Penn State has been making enough progress since the Jerry Sandusky sex scandal that starting next year it gradually will be able to offer football scholarships that the NCAA had banned, college sports’ governing body announced Tuesday.
A four-year postseason ban will remain in effect, though officials hinted that penalty, too, could be modified.
The NCAA made the announcement 14 months after its president, Mark Emmert, levied a series of unprecedented sanctions that included the loss of scholarships. The university was looking at a cap of 65 scholarships in 2014, but now will be able to offer 75. Penn State will be allowed 80 scholarships in 2015 and a full allotment of 85 the following year, according to ESPN
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“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,” ESPN quoted Emmert as saying.
Besides losing its scholarships, Penn State was forced to forfeit all its victories from 1998 to 2011, it was fined $60 million, and it was banned from the postseason through 2015.
The restoration of scholarships was made on the recommendation of the college’s athletics integrity monitor, former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell, The Washington Post said
“The action taken today by the NCAA, following its review of the positive report issued this month by Sen. George Mitchell, recognizes the significant efforts over the past year to make Penn State a safer, stronger institution,” Penn State President Rodney Erickson said in a statement released by the college
. “The news is certainly welcome to our University community, particularly the student athletes who may want to attend Penn State and will now have the means to do so. As we promised throughout this process, we are committed to continuing to improve all of our policies, procedures and actions.
The university’s investigation into the scandal was led by former FBI Director Louis J. Freeh, who set out 119 recommendations in a report to the school. ESPN said that more background checks, further employee training and records retention were among the changes Penn State has implemented thus far.
Sandusky was convicted on 45 counts of sexually abusing 10 boys. He is serving a sentence of 30 to 60 years in state prison.
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