Who knew? The NCAA has a heart. And a brain.
The organization that attempted to cripple the Penn State football program with sanctions that were outrageously unfair over a scandal in which it had no previous jurisdiction has taken a step back from its insanity.
Claiming the decision had nothing to do with the unfairness of its decree, the NCAA announced today that the scholarship ban on Penn State football, levied in reaction -- actually, in enormous overreaction -- to the Jerry Sandusky scandal, will be gradually reduced and that other aspects of its overly harsh penalties will be reviewed.
This is nothing less than a victory for common sense and decency.
NCAA president Mark Emmert claims the move was made because of the steps Penn State has taken to live up to the recommendations of the Freeh Report. That and also this: The coming to his senses of Emmert, whose muscle flexing was totally inappropriate for this situation.
The people involved in the Sandusky scandal are in the criminal justice system, which is where this matter belongs. Sandusky is in jail and will die there. The fates Penn State administrators facing charges likely will be determined by a jury of their peers.
The jury long ago came in on Emmert's deplorable actions. He attempted to cripple what had been an exemplary football program for the heinous crimes of a man no longer involved with the program. Yes, there was an overspill and, yes, Penn State deserved some sort of penalty. But not the Draconian measures handed down by Emmert and which Penn State, facing the Death Penalty -- the shutting down of the football program -- accepted.
Emmert said, ``The executive committee's decision to restore football scholarship opportunities for more student-athletes at Penn State is an important recognition of the university's progress -- and one I know it was pleased to make.''
The scholarship reduction were at the heart of the attempt to ruin the Penn State program. In addition, Penn State was fined $60 million, wins from 1998 to 2011 were vacated and the team was prohibited from playing in bowl games from 2013-16.
There is speculation that the bowl ban might be relaxed for the 2015 season.
Penn State faced a cap of 65 scholarships starting in 2014 but will now instead have 75 scholarships in 2014, 80 in 2015 and will return to the full allotment of 85 in 2016.
Bravo for this.
George Mitchell, the athletics integrity officer who monitored the university's adherence to the sanctions. said, ``Penn State has consistently demonstrated a strong commitment to fulfilling the requirements of the athletics integrity commitment. The amount of time, energy and resources devoted to these efforts have been notable."
Bill O'Brien, Paterno's successor, has done a remarkable job in maintaining the program in light of the potentially crippling sanctions and the news today should help even more.
First Published September 24, 2013 7:15 PM