NCAA reinstates Penn State’s postseason eligibility

The Nittany Lions could appear in a bowl game this season.

Sam Kraemer

The NCAA restored Penn State University’s football postseason eligibility Monday, lifting one of several sanctions it handed down in 2012 after finding that the school had mishandled the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

Beginning next season, Penn State will have all of its scholarships reinstated, and starting this year, the school is eligible to play in a bowl game if the team qualifies.

The sanctions also included a $60 million fine, vacation of victories from 1998 to 2011 and five-year probation. Those sanctions, however, remain intact.

Minnesota doesn’t play the Nittany Lions this season, but Gophers head coach Jerry Kill said he was on board with the decision.

“I always go by what’s best for the players and what’s fair,” Kill said.

Sandusky, 70, was a former defensive coordinator at Penn State. He was convicted of sexual abuse in 2012, and he is currently serving a prison sentence of 30 to 60 years.

Monday’s decision was based on the recommendations of former Sen. George Mitchell, who was hired after Sandusky’s case to monitor Penn State.

“In light of Penn State’s responsiveness to its obligations and the many improvements it has instituted, I believe these student-athletes should have the opportunity to play in the postseason should they earn it on the field this year,” Mitchell wrote in a September report that outlines the school’s progress.

In a teleconference Tuesday, Penn State head football coach James Franklin said his players heard of the news through social media.

“Although we had the team meeting and brought everybody together, I’d say 99 percent of the whole team knew already,” he said.

Franklin also said the change in scholarships would not affect his recruiting.

Penn State is 2-0 this season and likely on track for a bowl game.

 

Jack Satzinger contributed to this report.