The NCAA has backed off on some of its sanctions against Penn State. The Nittany Lions are getting back some of their football scholarships.
The sanctions last year were the stiffest in NCAA history, pounding Penn State for the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal but now the NCAA says the school has made a lot of progress.
We talked with Penn State fans about this NCAA about face.
Many experts expected the NCAA sanctions against Penn State to cripple the football program for nearly a decade and a big part of that was the restriction on scholarships the university could offer to players: 15 fewer per year for four years.
But now, the NCAA is giving back five scholarships a year. The team has 70 total scholarship players now. By 2016, PENN state will be back to the normal 85 scholarships a year.
We shared news of the NCAA change of heart with Penn State fans at the Bloomsburg Fair. Blue and white faithful were easy to spot.
“They shouldn’t have taken them away to start out with,” said Dean Miller of Montandon.
“I’m glad to see this, plus I think O’Brien is doing a great job with the whole program and I think this has got to help him a little bit,” said Craig Hort of Danville.
Craig and Vickie Hort of Danville say they were stunned at the original sanctions last year.
“I think the wrong people are being punished and I think they should reward more than that number of scholarships and I don’t think you can take away a record of wins and say they don’t exist,” Vickie Hort said.
The NCAA sanctions also stripped Joe Paterno and Penn State of all victories since 1998.
It imposed a $60 million fine and banned the Nittany Lions from the post season.
For now, only the scholarship limits are changing.
“Somebody just robbed them. That’s what it was and it was terrible. Now they’re starting to come back. The coach has got a good team,” said Donald Guida of Lake Wallenpaupack.
“I think it’s good because it’s no fault of the people that are there now. Initially it was kind of shock that it was that severe,” said Mark Zefran of Harrisburg.
With a little Lion fan on his shoulders, alumnus Mark Zefran hopes this helps the school move forward.
Since the sanctions, shirts like “we are still proud” have been popular.
Many fans at the fair were happy hearing the NCAA acknowledge progress, but want more.
“I hope this is the beginning of that, that they realize they did act in haste,” Vickie Hort added.
The NCAA executive committee said it would consider changes to the ban on bowls and postseason play if Penn State continues progress restoring integrity to the school and athletic program.