Paterno’s family said in a statement that the sanctions “defame the legacy and contributions of a great coach and educator.” Echoing the complaints of many outraged and heartbroken Penn State fans, the family also criticized university leaders for accepting the punishment without insisting on a full investigation and hearing on the school’s handling of the sexual abuse allegations against former coaching assistant Jerry Sandusky.
“This is not a fair or thoughtful action; it is a panicked response to the public’s understandable revulsion at what Sandusky did,” the family said.
He said the NCAA considered imposing the so-called death penalty, or a complete shutdown of the football program for a season or more, but worried about the collateral damage.
“Suspension of the football program would bring with it significant unintended harm to many who had nothing to do with this case,” Emmert said. “The sanctions we have crafted are more focused and impactful than that blanket penalty.”
Gov. Tom Corbett expressed gratitude that Penn State escaped the death penalty, saying it would have had a “severe detrimental impact on the citizens of State College, Centre County and the entire commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”
A drop-off in attendance and revenue could damage both the university, where the powerhouse football team is a moneymaker that subsidizes other sports, and the region as a whole, where Saturday afternoon football at Penn State is an important part of the economy.
But given Penn State’s famously ardent fans and generous benefactors, the precise economic impact on Penn State and Happy Valley, as the surrounding area is known, remains unclear.
First-year coach Bill O’Brien, who was hired to replace Paterno, will have the daunting task of trying to keep returning players from fleeing the program while luring new recruits.
“I knew when I accepted the position that there would be tough times ahead,” O’Brien said. “But I am committed for the long term to Penn State and our student athletes.”
But even before the sanctions were even announced, Ross Douglas, a defensive back from Avon, Ohio, backed off his commitment. Douglas told Rivals.com on Monday: “We prepared ourselves for it, and today was just the icing on the cake. I love Penn State to death, but I have to do what’s best for me, and I’m going to look elsewhere.”
Separately, the Big Ten announced that Penn State will not be allowed to share in the conference’s bowl revenue during the NCAA’s postseason ban, an estimated loss of about $13 million.
Emmert fast-tracked the penalties rather than go through the usual circuitous series of investigations and hearings.
The NCAA said the $60 million is equivalent to the annual gross revenue of the football program. The money will go toward outside programs devoted to preventing child sexual abuse or assisting victims.
Penn State said it will pay the fine in five annual installments of $12 million but did not disclose where it will get the cash. The governor demanded assurances from Penn State that taxpayer money will not be used to pay the fine; Penn State said it will cover it with its athletics reserve fund and capital maintenance budget and, if necessary, borrow money.