The NCAA Executive Committee on Tuesday released plans to gradually restore football scholarships to Penn State that were lost due to sanctions connected to the Jerry Sandusky sexual assault scandal.
Beginning with the 2014-15 academic year, five additional initial scholarships will be restored to the Penn State football team each year through 2017-18.
According to the NCAA, the return of the football scholarships is a response to Penn State's continued progress toward ensuring athletics integrity. The changes were endorsed by the Division I Board of Directors and are based on the recommendation of George Mitchell, the independent Athletics Integrity Monitor for Penn State and former U.S. Senator.
From the NCAA:
“While there is more work to be done, Penn State has clearly demonstrated its commitment to restoring integrity in its athletics program,” said Mitchell. “The university has substantially completed the initial implementation of all the Freeh Report recommendations and its obligations to the Athletics Integrity Agreement, so relief from the scholarship reductions is warranted and deserved.”
The NCAA, per Mitchell's recommendation, agreed to maintain the existing postseason ban, $60 million fine to help fund child abuse programs and other sanctions, pending Penn State’s continued progress.
In a statement released by Penn State, president Rodney Erickson thanked coach Bill O'Brien for his leadership and Penn State players for their work on and off the field during the sanctions:
"The resiliency displayed by those young men, as well as our entire student body is something of which we are proud," Erickson said. "I would also like to thank the literally hundreds of University administrators, faculty, staff and students whose hard work over the past 15 months helped lay the groundwork not only for this action by the NCAA but, even more importantly, for a better Penn State."