College Sports

Trustees: PSU Faced 4-Year Death Penalty

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(credit: Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

(credit: Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

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(AP) – Penn State’s trustees may not like the NCAA’s unprecedented sanctions against the university’s football program, but they say the alternative – the so-called “death penalty” – would have been worse.

In their first joint statement since Penn State was hit with a $60 million fine, a four-year bowl game ban, reduced football scholarships and the forfeiture of 112 wins, trustees said Wednesday the NCAA punishment was “unfortunate” and “difficult.”

University spokesman David La Torre said the potential for a four-year ban on playing football was floated during discussions between Penn State President Rodney Erickson and NCAA officials.

The trustees met with Erickson on the subject at a State College hotel Wednesday and afterward issued their statement.

The penalty hasn’t been used since the NCAA suspended Southern Methodist University for the 1987 season. SMU then sat out the `88 season on its own and has never fully recovered its status in college football.

Reporters were barred from the conference room where the Penn State trustees met, and trustees avoided them after the meeting broke up.

The potential for a four-year ban, first reported by ESPN, showed how high the stakes were as college sports’ governing body considered how to respond to an internal school investigation by former FBI Director Louis Freeh that found former coach Joe Paterno and three other top college officials helped conceal reports that Jerry Sandusky, a former assistant coach, was abusing children.

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