Big Ten Announces Championship Eligibility for Penn State
Watch out, Big Ten: The NCAA’s playoff ban removal and scholarship additions aren’t the only pieces of great news today.
After the NCAA made its announcement, the Big Ten announced that the Nittany Lions will also be eligible to compete for the Big Ten Championship this season, while the $60 million fine and the win vacations from 1998-2011 will remain in place. Here’s the Big Ten’s statement in full:
The Big Ten Conference, through its Council of Presidents and Chancellors (COPC), has agreed today to restore Penn State’s eligibility for the Big Ten Football Championship Game. The agreement follows the announcement today, by the NCAA, to further modify sanctions set forth in the Consent Decree entered into with Penn State on July 23, 2012, including the elimination of Penn State’s postseason football ban, effective immediately, and the restoration of its full complement of football scholarships beginning with the 2015-16 academic year. As a result of the announcement, based strongly on recommendations by Independent Athletics Integrity Monitor Senator George Mitchell, Penn State will be eligible to compete in both the Big Ten Football Championship Game and a bowl game, beginning with the current season.
The $60 million fine, vacation of wins from 1998-2011, Athletics Integrity Agreement (AIA), and five-year probation initially imposed by the NCAA will remain in effect, as will the official censure, five-year probation and monetary fine equal to Penn State’s Big Ten bowl revenue share during the probationary period initially imposed by the Big Ten COPC.
The NCAA’s decision to modify the Consent Decree was based on recommendations by Senator Mitchell, who has been serving since August 2012 as the independent Athletics Integrity Monitor responsible for overseeing Penn State’s implementation of the reforms set forth in the AIA. The AIA was entered into on August 29, 2012, by the NCAA, the Big Ten and Penn State as one of the requirements of the Consent Decree.
As a party to the AIA, the Big Ten COPC met with Senator Mitchell on Monday, September 8, and received his report on Penn State’s progress. Senator Mitchell’s briefing included a recommendation that the NCAA reduce the postseason ban effective immediately and restore full scholarship availability beginning with the 2015-16 academic year. Mitchell’s recommendation was based on the significant progress Penn State has continually made in its compliance and reform efforts over the last two years and focused exclusively on NCAA penalties that directly impacted student-athletes.
“Following our briefing with Senator Mitchell, the COPC reached consensus agreement to support his latest recommendation and also agreed to restore the school’s eligibility for the Big Ten Football Championship Game, which ran concurrently with the NCAA postseason bowl ban” said COPC Chair and Iowa President Sally Mason. “We support the NCAA announcement acting on that recommendation, thank Senator Mitchell for his dedicated service and appreciate Penn State’s ongoing commitment to improvement.”