Shortly after another glowing report from former senator George Mitchell, the most crippling of the sanctions the NCAA unjustly levied on Penn State’s football program in July 2012 are over. The NCAA also said it will not fight Pennsylvania to keep the $60 million fine in state anymore. There was no mention of the vacated wins from 1998-2011, but that fight will still forge on. And be won. It’s only a matter of time.
The NCAA lifted them Monday, saying that because of Penn State’s “significant progress toward ensuring its athletics department functions with integrity” the Nittany Lions will be eligible for postseason play this season and will be back to a full complement of 85 scholarships in 2015. Here’s the NCAA’s full statement.
The wording of the statement still makes my blood boil. There was never a problem with Penn State’s integrity. Never. Those who think differently bought into a false narrative that was set immediately after the grand jury presentment of Jerry Sandusky was released and furthered by Louis “Fact” Freeh’s shoddy report. It’s just another case of the NCAA sitting on its high horse like its lacky president Mark Emmert did two summers ago, but they needed to do that.
See, there are several lawsuit against the NCAA regarding the sanctions and the last thing they wanted was to have to go through a discovery phase. That would be crippling and embarrassing. They knew it. And those who have followed this case closely knew it, too.
Same thing with Freeh. When he got in his “car accident” recently, I saw that some people on social media were disappointed he wasn’t hurt further. I was shocked by that. I want that guy 100 percent healthy, mind and body, so he has to sit on a stand and testify under oath. I have a feeling we’ll be hearing a lot of “I invoke my fifth amendment right,” though. That’s another discussion for another day.
The end of the worst of the sanctions is fantastic news for Penn State and awful news for everyone else.
Even with no postseason play until the 2016 season to pitch, James Franklin still had a top-five recruiting class lined up for 2015. He didn’t have 85 scholarships to work with either. Not until 2016. Both of those things are now back in play.
The fact that he was able to sell top recruit after top recruit on Penn State without those promises is amazing. Now that he can use that as part of his reasons why a young man should come to Happy Valley should scare the hell out of opponents, especially in the Big Ten.