The NCAA announced unprecedented sanctions Monday against Pennsylvania State University, including fining the school $60 million and banning it from bowl games for four years in response to the child-sexual-abuse scandal involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association, college sports’ governing body, stopped short of a full suspension of the school’s football program.
“The Penn State case has provoked in all of us a deeply emotional response and shaken our confidence in many ways,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said at a press conference. He said the sanctions were intended to help Penn State “rebuild a culture that went terribly awry.”
The sanctions also included vacating all of Penn State’s wins from 1998 to 2011 and reducing scholarships at the university. Mr. Emmert said Penn State will need to work with an athletic-integrity monitor and that the NCAA could impose further sanctions following the resolution of ongoing criminal proceedings against former university administrators.
The $60 million fine will be used to create an endowment to try to help prevent child sexual abuse. The amount is equal to a one year’s gross revenue of the football team, Mr. Emmert said.
The moves, which were expected to deal a serious blow to one of the nation’s best-known college sports teams, follow a report this month from former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Louis Freeh and commissioned by trustees that found longtime Head Football Coach Joe Paterno and other university officials didn’t act on allegations of sexual abuse involving Mr. Sandusky.
Mr. Sandusky was convicted in June on 45 counts related to abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period, starting in 1994.
On Sunday, Penn State removed a seven-foot statue of the late Mr. Paterno outside the school’s Beaver Stadium. The 900-pound bronze artwork came to be an “obstacle to healing,” the university’s president said.
A Penn State spokesman couldn’t immediately be reached to comment on the NCAA sanctions. Rodney Erickson, who took over as Penn State’s president after Graham Spanier was ousted in November, opted to remove the statue of Mr. Paterno, over the objections of many alumni, because it had become a “lightning rod of controversy,” he said in a statement.
Mr. Paterno’s family also couldn’t be reached to comment on the NCAA sanctions. The family said Sunday that removing the statue “does not serve the victims of Jerry Sandusky’s horrible crimes or help heal the Penn State Community.”
“This case involves tragic and tragically unnecessary circumstances,” Mr. Emmert said. He said a “grave danger” of university sports programs is that they “can become too big to fail, indeed too big to even challenge.” The NCAA is a private, member-based organization and has wide latitude to mete out punishment.
Penn State’s football program has had a broad economic and cultural impact beyond the university and the rural center of Pennsylvania for decades. The program began more than a century ago. Under Mr. Paterno, the Penn State Nittany Lions won two national championships, three Big Ten titles and 24 bowl games.
Penn State alumni travel from around the country to attend games at Beaver Stadium on campus in State College, Pa., which seats 107,000 fans and is one of the biggest stadiums in the nation.
In 2009, the Penn State football program spurred $161.5 million in economic activity statewide, according to a report commissioned by the university several years before the child-sexual-abuse scandal. That included $70.2 million in direct economic activity, such as ticket and merchandise sales.
That year, the program directly supported 1,130 jobs, including office administration, coaching staff and assistants, box office, concessions, ushers and parking attendants, the report found.