The NCAA Executive Committee has released its decision to absolve Penn State of the remaining punishment levied due to the universities involvement in the Jerry Sandusky abuse scandal. The decision was based on report by George Mitchell in accordance with the Athletics Integrity Agreement among the NCAA, Big 10, and Penn State. The full report can be read here.
From the NCAA –
Due to Penn State University’s significant progress toward ensuring its athletics department functions with integrity, the NCAA Executive Committee today eliminated the school’s postseason ban, effective immediately, and will return the full complement of football scholarships in 2015-16.
The committee’s action endorses recommendations released today by George Mitchell, the university’s athletics integrity monitor, in his latest report.
In addition to the scholarship and postseason participation changes, Mitchell also recommended that if Penn State continues to make impressive progress at the conclusion of the 2015 report, Mitchell’s oversight may conclude substantially earlier than 2017, the date set forth in the original agreement between the NCAA and Penn State.
“Penn State’s commitment to the integrity of its athletics department and its progress toward meeting the requirements of the Consent Decree are clear,” said Northern Arizona President Rita Hartung Cheng, who chaired Monday’s Executive Committee meeting. “We thank Senator Mitchell for his meticulous and exhaustive work over the past two years. Mitchell’s efforts and the dedication of Penn State officials made today’s decisions possible.”
Executive Committee leadership met Monday with the NCAA Division I Board of Directors and presidents from the Big Ten Conference prior to taking a vote on the action. During these discussions, Mitchell briefed the group on his work to date and the university’s compliance with the athletics integrity agreement.
The Board of Directors also accepted Mitchell’s report and endorsed the Executive Committee’s action.
“Penn State has made remarkable progress over the past year,” said Harris Pastides, Board member and University of South Carolina president. “The board members and I believe the Executive Committee’s decision is the right one. It allows both the university and the association to continue to move toward a common goal of ensuring that educating, nurturing and protecting young people is a top priority.”
The Nittany Lions are 2-0 on the season and face only two ranked opponents the rest of the season. The lift of the ban would allow them to play in a bowl this season if they win the required six games to be bowl eligible. The decision is drawing both positive and negative responses.
Earlier this year the NCAA once again asked for the lawsuit filed by Joe Paterno’s estate against the NCAA and Penn State be dismissed. The Paterno estate attempts to invalidate the Consent Decree between the NCAA and Penn State in order to remove any responsibility in the case from the late coach. The suit alleges breach of contract, intentional interference with contractual relations, injurious falsehood and commercial disparagement, defamation, and civil conspiracy, and it seeks monetary damages. Scott Paterno spoke for the estate saying the lawsuit will continue despite the reduction in penalties.
More information to come as it is available.
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