In what could be a tacit admission that the NCAA had gone too far in the Penn State child abuse scandal, the governing body has announced that it will start restoring scholarships to Penn State as a result of ""continued progress toward ensuring athletics integrity."
While Beaver Stadium has not attracted that many fans since the Penn State sex abuse scandal broke out, fans have a glimmer of reason to rejoice as the NCAA is lifitng some of the sanctions on the school's football program.
Five scholarships will be restored in 2014, then more scholarships will be phased in until the program reaches its limit of 85 in 2016-2017, one full season earlier than what was stipulated in the deal agreed upon the school and the NCAA. Penn State's four-year postseason ban will still be in effect, but with a relatively decimated lineup still toiling in the shadow of the scandal, it appears that the Nittany Lions will not be going to a bowl game anytime soon anyway.
"This action provides an opportunity to recognize Penn State's significant momentum, while also providing additional opportunities for student-athletes," said NCAA Division I chair Nathan Hatch, also the president of Wake Forest University in North Carolina.
Penn State President Rodney Erickson welcomed the news, promising to continue the reforms set in place in 2012.
The family of the late Penn State coach Joe Paterno also praised the NCAA's decision. Paterno died of lung cancer weeks after he was forced to resign after he was alleged to have covered up assistant coach Jerry Sandusky's sexual abuse scandal in 2001. It was a particularly bitter pill to swallow for Paterno, who had coached at Penn State from 1966 to 2011, winning two national championships and 18 bowl games. Of the 298 games he won as head coach, 111 were vacated.
A lawsuit filed by his surviving heirs against the NCAA is now pending in court. Sandusky is currently serving a 30- to 60- year prison sentence for sexually abusing 10 young boys, some of which happened inside Penn State's athletic facilities.
Penn State is currently 3-1 in the 2013-2014 season after going 8-4 in 2012-2013.
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