NCAA Reduces Penalties for Penn State, Will Gradually Restore Scholarships to Football Program

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Bill O'BrienAfter more than a year of frustration, Bill O’Brien is getting some help from the NCAA.

A little over a year after imposing harsh penalties on the Penn State football program, the NCAA decided to ease up on some of the penalties. The NCAA announced on Tuesday that they would gradually restore scholarships to the school over the next three years.

In July 2012, the NCAA handed out severe penalties, including a four-year ban from postseason play, a $60 million fine and the loss of 10 scholarships per year for four seasons, bringing down the maximum amount of scholarship players on the roster annually from 85 to 65. The NCAA hasn’t reversed course on the ban or the fine, but it has decided to restore five scholarships to the school for the 2014-15 season, 25 for the 2015-16 season and will return to the full allotted amount of 85 for the 2016-17 season, which is one year earlier than originally planned.

The NCAA’s decision came after a careful review and recommendations of lobbyist George Mitchell, who is best known for his research into MLB’s steroid problem, known as the “Mitchell Report.”

Penn State has managed well under O’Brien, even without the full allotment of scholarship players. The Nittany Lions finished with a 8-4 record in O’Brien’s first season in Happy Valley, and they are off to a 3-1 start to the 2013 season.

When O’Brien took over the Penn State football program in January 2012, he understood that the storied college powerhouse would likely face some penalties for its connection to the Jerry Sandusky case. While he would likely appreciate the restoration of the school’s postseason eligibility even more, O’Brien will certainly accept the extra scholarships and the opportunity to continue moving forward with the future of the program.

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