By Zack Needles
Of the Legal Staff
The National Collegiate Athletic Association has announced it will begin gradually restoring the football scholarships Penn State lost as part of the sanctions related to the Jerry Sandusky sex-abuse scandal, allowing the university to return to the full complement of 25 initial and 85 total scholarships two years earlier than originally planned.
As part of the sanctions the NCAA imposed in July 2012, Penn State was originally required to reduce its annual scholarships to 15 initial and 65 total scholarships for four years, beginning with the 2014 season.
But in a statement released Tuesday, the NCAA said it would be easing back on those sanctions due to the university’s “continued progress toward ensuring athletics integrity.”
“Beginning next academic year (2014-15), five additional initial scholarships will be restored to the university’s football team,” the NCAA said in the statement. “This amount will continue to increase until they reach the full allocation of 25 initial in 2015-16 and 85 total football scholarships in 2016-17.”
The NCAA added that “the existing postseason ban, $60 million fine to help fund child-abuse programs and other sanctions outlined in the consent decree will remain in effect.”
“However, the group may consider additional mitigation of the postseason ban in the future depending upon Penn State’s continued progress,” the NCAA said.
According to the NCAA’s statement, George Mitchell, the independent athletics integrity monitor for Penn State, had recommended that the scholarship sanctions be relieved.
Mitchell said in the statement that doing so “will give more student-athletes an opportunity to attend Penn State on athletics scholarship while also creating an incentive for the university to continue its progress under new leadership” following the retirement of Penn State President Rodney Erickson in June 2014.
Zack Needles can be contacted at 215-557-2493 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ZNeedlesTLI.