It sounds like Penn State is going to get hit hard by the NCAA, but when the dust clears, the PSU football team will be playing this year:
NCAA president Mark Emmert has decided to punish Penn State with severe penalties likely to include a significant loss of scholarships and loss of multiple bowls, a source close to the decision told ESPN’s Joe Schad on Sunday morning.
But Penn State will not receive the so-called “death penalty” that would have suspended the program for at least one year, the source said.
The penalties, however, are considered to be so harsh that the death penalty may have been preferable, the source said.
The term “death penalty” in NCAA sports says a whole lot about NCAA culture. When being unable to play something as peripheral to the mission of a university as a single college sport is considered “death”, you see the mismatch between the expectations of fans and those of us who don’t care about college athletics. After reading about the decade or so that Penn State sheltered a criminal child rapist, shutting down the football program for a year or two, then letting it start again as, say, a Division III program on probation for a few more, seems to me like a pretty reasonable way to punish all of Sandusky’s enablers. Instead, it was an open question whether the NCAA would do anything (since, technically, no NCAA rules were violated — apparently child rape is outside the purview of the NCAA charter), and almost anything they do today, even though it approaches nothing like the life altering damage of child abuse, will be considered a jaw-dropping, unprecedented, draconian punishment.
I realize some semi-pro PSU athletes will have their careers damaged by whatever sanctions come down, but their careers were already damaged before this happened, since the next few years of semi-pro freshman classes don’t have any intention of being recruited to PSU if they can avoid it.
Update: As predicted, no death penalty, but a $60 million fine to endow external charities dealing with child abuse, no bowl games for 4 years, and all wins since 1998 are vacated. I’m sad to say that last bit will probably hurt fans the most.