At dawn Sunday morning, the statue honoring Joe Paterno was removed from outside of Beaver Stadium in State College, PA. The status has been moved into storage inside of the stadium for the time being. Penn State also announced that Paterno's name will remain on the campus library, though the statue has been removed.
Shortly afterwards, the NCAA announced an 8 am central time press conference on Monday morning to reveal sanctions against Penn State. ESPN's Joe Schad reports that Penn State will not be hit with the "death penalty" that would shut down the football program entirely. CBS' Armen Keteyian reports that the sanctions will be "unprecedented"; his source saying that "I've never seen anything like it."
This process is unprecedented in terms of the NCAA. Typically, the NCAA does a complete investigation and gives the school a chance to respond before finally issuing sanctions. It's a process that typically takes months. In this situation, the NCAA appears to be using the Jerry Sandusky trial and the Freeh report in lieu of the investigation.The penalties appear to revolve around a bowl ban and a loss of scholarships. If this is to be truly "unprecedented", then the penalty will be multiple years. One year bowl bans are fairly common, so it's obviously a multiple-year ban. My guess is that we are looking at three to five years. Scholarship reductions would have to be greater than the 31 scholarship reduction that Miami faced in 1995. USC is coming off a 2 year bowl ban and a 30 scholarship reduction.
The NCAA says that these measures will be both "corrective" and "punitive". So expect an NCAA probation of an extended period - perhaps as long as ten years. That would be "corrective" as the NCAA would want to take an active role in changing the culture in Penn State's athletic department.
I can only speculate on other sanctions that would be "unprecedented" and "punitive". Other items that would be punitive would be banning Penn State from holding home football games for a season or more. It might be too late to cancel Penn State's home games for this season; tickets have been sold and schedules are set. But in 2013 and beyond, the Big Ten could be ordered to revise the schedule so that the Lions would only play games on the road. No home games would have a significant financial impact on the entire athletic department. Some have suggested that Penn State be banned from television, but that has collateral damage to the teams that play Penn State. In this era where every game is on television, that's an unfair penalty on twelve other teams.
Putting on my prediction hat, here's what I think might happen to Penn State:
- 40 scholarship reduction over the next four years.
- Five year bowl ban beginning this season.
- No home football games in 2013 and 2014.
- 15 years of NCAA probation
- All current scholarship players have the opportunity to transfer to another school and become immediately eligible.
- 10 years show-cause penalty on all coaches on the Penn State staff from 1998 until last season.
That's pure speculation, but allow players to transfer minimizes the impact on the student-athletes that had nothing to do with this scandal. But it's severe, and frankly, might be worse than the death penalty on Penn State University.