NCAA trying to unring sanction bell

September, 24, 2013
9/24/13
5:07
PM ET


NCAA president Mark Emmert can explain until he turns Nittany Blue that the NCAA eased its sanctions against Penn State as a reaction to the university's good behavior. And on its face, that's true. Penn State has begun implementing the change in athletic culture that the NCAA demanded when it threw the Nittany Lions under its jail for the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

The decision to begin restoring football scholarships, Emmert said in a hastily called teleconference Tuesday, is "solely a recognition of the very good work that has been done by the Penn State leadership and their willingness to drive change."

But the decision to begin restoring football scholarships to head coach Bill O'Brien is a tacit acknowledgment that the NCAA sanctions constituted an overreaction that diminished the organization in the eyes of its member schools and the public. That sound coming from University Park, Pa., is a bell unringing.

Here's the meat and potatoes: instead of three more years of granting 15 initial and 65 total scholarships, O'Brien will be allowed to restore five per year in each category. Penn State will return to the NCAA maximum of 25 initials in 2015-16, and a team limit of 85 the following year. The other sanctions -- the $60 million fine, four-year postseason ban and the five-year probation -- remain intact.

NCAA president Mark Emmert said the decision followed the recommendation made by former U.S. Senator George Mitchell, the Independent Athletics Integrity Monitor appointed by the NCAA to oversee a change in the Penn State athletic culture.

The decision is, Emmert said, "solely a recognition of the very good work that has been done by the Penn State leadership and their willingness to drive change."

To read the rest of the story from Ivan Maisel, click here.

Ivan Maisel | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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