Report: NCAA In Talks to Restore Paterno Victories
The controversial NCAA sanctions against Penn State, at long last, could soon be eliminated entirely. According to a Philadelphia Inquirer report, which sources people familiar with the discussions, the NCAA, state officials, and Penn State are in discussions for a possible plea bargain of sorts that would result in Joe Paterno’s 111 vacated wins being restored to the record books.
The brief report says that “details of the negotiations were unclear” but that the $60 million fine would still remain to be used for child protection initiatives inside Pennsylvania. After previous sanction rollbacks last year, the fine and the vacated wins are among the few Penn State penalties still remaining, along with the implementation of an academic integrity monitor and other binding Freeh report recommendations.
The agreement is the result of State Sen. Jake Corman and Treasurer Rob McCord’s lawsuit against the NCAA, which has resulted in a plethora of bad press for the organization in the last few months. E-mails released as part of the lawsuit discovery process have painted the NCAA as a PR-hungry organization with questionable processes, including the revelation that it was trying to “bluff” Penn State into taking the sanctions (it worked!) and that it was potentially colluding with the Freeh investigation for months before the report was released.
After a short delay, that lawsuit is set to go to trial next month — which could result in embarrassing testimony from NCAA leaders and the few powerful members of the Penn State Board of Trustees and administration who made the decision to accept the sanctions without protest — and this agreement would likely make that unnecessary.
News of a possible settlement broke this afternoon when trustees Anthony Lubrano and Al Lord released an e-mail sent to Board Chairman Keith Masser, which he refused to answer. The two alumni trustees, who were predictably not informed about the details of a potential settlement by the board power circle, wanted more transparency among all board members about settlement discussions with the NCAA. Masser responded to the email in a vague statement — neither confirming nor denying the settlement talks specifically — saying that the “suppositions that [are presented] in your letter are incorrect” and that any settlement possibility would be brought before the entire board.
The number 409 has become something of a symbol at Penn State during the last few years. Any sanction rollback would be welcomed by Nittany Nation, but for many, anything short of a full apology and repudiation from the NCAA and Board leadership, along with a total disassociation from the Freeh report conclusions, will not be enough. Whether this plea bargain includes remedies that far-reaching, we will have to wait and see.