Apr 20, 2013; University Park, PA, USA; A general view of Beaver Stadium prior to the Penn State spring game. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O

Penn State Football-Breaking Down Possible Sanction Reductions

Last Friday, reports surfaced that Bill O’Brien had met with a closed executive session of the Penn State Board of Trustees.  The subject of that meeting? A possible proposal from the University to the NCAA to reduce at least a portion of the sanctions.  On Monday, Paul Silvis, and Board Chairman Keith Masser met with the USA Today editorial board, and both stated they would like to see at least some of the sanctions on the football program relaxed.  There has been no comment from the NCAA or Mark Emmert since March, when he stated he didn’t envision any changes.  With that in mind, everything that follows could very well be an exercise in futility.  But, it will also be fun.  Here are some possible ways the sanctions could be amended:

  • The biggest on field effect was always going to be the scholarship losses.  Both the limit of 65 over 4 seasons, as well as 4 recruiting classes with a maximum of 15 players.  In short, depth is going to be an issue now, and going forward.  Even a slight increase in both the overall number of scholarship players and scholarships available in each class (say 70 total and 17-18 per class) would be a significant improvement.  Indications from Friday’s meeting  were this was a key point of O’Brien’s presentation, and the USA Today interview brought up scholarships as well.
  • It would seem unlikely that anything changes for the 2013 post season, and with a trip to Ireland i 2014, it’s not a huge leap to say a bowl trip that season may not necessarily be high on PSU’s wish list.  Ultimately, unless you are making a trip to a BCS game, or starting in 2014, the new playoff, a bowl game is a glorified exhibition, and holiday vacation for fans. About the only redeeming quality is a tad more exposure on TV, and additional practices.  The PSU fans have the chance to head to Ireland, which sounds a whole lot better than Dallas in January, and the Lions aren’t exactly hurting for media attention.  Sure, practices are great, but if it comes down to more scholarships or that, I know which way the football program wants to go.
  • With apologies to various legacies and record books, the vacating of any wins from 1998-2011 is not blip on my radar.  For one, we all watched those games, and we all know what happened.  Not reading about the 29-27 come from behind win over Ohio State in 2001, or, well, almost everything in 2005, in the official PSU media guide is not exactly high on my “must remedy” radar.  The pictures on my wall from those years mean a heck of a lot more than what Wikipedia says.
  • Oh yeah, that $60 million fine.  Sure, it’s a lot of money, and it is most definitely effecting the University and the Athletic Department.  I also think it is the least likely thing to be changed.  For one, that money is going to help victims of child abuse, and I’m not sure anyone at Penn State or the NCAA is too keen on being seen as drawing back that contribution.  Secondly, it’s very much a symbol of what PSU is trying to do, as a school, to combat the issue of child sexual abuse. Regardless of how the institution ended up in this boat, it’s an issue that needs addressing, and seeing my alma mater do what it can to take the lead is admirable.

Keep in mind that this is just mindless speculation.  Aside from a “secret” meeting with O’Brien, and comments to the media by two trustees, there has been no indication that Penn State intends to pursue this, nor that the NCAA is even open to listening.  But, as long as there’s a chance, what’s the harm in a little speculation?

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