State College, PA (Sports Network) - The NCAA announced on Tuesday that it has agreed to start restoring scholarships to the Penn State football program that were lost as punishment following the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal.
Beginning next academic year (2014-15), five additional initial scholarships will be restored to Penn State's football team with the amount continuing to increase until they reach the full allocation of 25 initial in 2015-16 and 85 total football scholarships in 2016-17.
"The goal has always been to ensure the university reinforces clear expectations and a daily mindset within athletics that the highest priority must be placed on educating, nurturing and protecting young people," said NCAA President Mark Emmert. "The Executive Committee's decision to restore the football scholarships provides additional education opportunities and is an important recognition of Penn State's progress."
This action is based on the recommendation of former U.S. Senator George Mitchell, the independent Athletics Integrity Monitor for Penn State, and was endorsed by the Division I Board of Directors. Because the Big Ten signed the Athletics Integrity Agreement, the Executive Committee sought the conference's input.
"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."
Penn State is also serving a five-year postseason ban and was fined $60 million by the NCAA for the administration's alleged part in the Sandusky scandal. While the Executive Committee can decide to reduce the postseason ban, the $60 million fine will create an endowment to help fund child abuse prevention programs and assist victims of child abuse and likely will not be reduced.
The Executive Committee expressed its appreciation of Mitchell's oversight of the process.
"We would like to thank Senator Mitchell for his meticulous oversight and guidance throughout this process," said LouAnna Simon, chair of the Executive Committee and president of Michigan State University. "His dedication, as well as Penn State's commitment to improvement, has paved the way for continued improvement for the university."