Former inmate exonerated in rape case joins pro football team
Brian Banks speaks at a press conference in Las Vegas on Thursday.
September 21st, 2012
08:08 AM ET

Former inmate exonerated in rape case joins pro football team

Brian Banks' professional football dream is one step closer to coming true.

A decade ago, Banks was a football standout at Long Beach Polytechnic High School in California and had been offered a scholarship to play at the University of Southern California.

Then he was accused of rape. Fearing a potentially long sentence, he followed the advice of his attorney and pleaded no contest to assaulting a classmate.

But he maintained his innocence throughout nearly six years of imprisonment, subsequent probation and registration as a sex offender.

And, according to the California Innocence Project, the woman later admitted that Banks had not kidnapped or raped her during a consensual encounter.

A judge in California tossed out his conviction in May.

On Thursday, Banks, 26,  had his first practice with the Las Vegas Locomotives of the United Football League, a four-team minor league circuit. He hopes to be on the field Wednesday in the Locos home opener against the Virginia Destroyers.

“There was a point in my life where I literally had to put football aside to survive in prison. I came home in 2007, went to junior college, and then had to wear a GPS tracking device and I could not play football. But I never lost faith, and I never lost that passion for it,” Banks said at a press conference on Thursday.

Locomotives coach and general manager Jim Fassel says Banks, a 6-foot-4, 245-pound linebacker, has the character to excel at professional football.

FULL POST

Post by:
Filed under: California • Football • Justice • Las Vegas • Nevada • Sports
NFL Films pioneer Steve Sabol dies at 69
Steve Sabol speaks on behalf of his father, Ed, in Dallas after the elder Sabol was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011.
September 18th, 2012
03:48 PM ET

NFL Films pioneer Steve Sabol dies at 69

NFL Films President Steve Sabol, who helped his father establish the Emmy-winning production company that changed the way people viewed professional football, died Tuesday after an 18-month battle with brain cancer, the NFL said.

He was 69.

NFL Films, which has filmed every NFL game since 1965, produced weekly highlight shows in the days before sports cable networks, breaking away from highlight reels of the past by showing action in slow motion with multiple ground-level cameras, with stirring music and sound from the sidelines.

The company was founded by his father, Ed Sabol, but Steve was with the outfit from the beginning and took it over in 1987, helping it become a business with revenue of tens of millions of dollars, with programs on several networks.

“Steve Sabol was the creative genius behind the remarkable work of NFL Films,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell said in a statement. “Steve’s passion for football was matched by his incredible talent and energy.”

FULL POST

Post by:
Filed under: Football • Pro football • Sports • Uncategorized
Sandusky could be sentenced on October 9
Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky leaves court in handcuffs after his conviction.
September 17th, 2012
11:39 AM ET

Sandusky could be sentenced on October 9

Former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky may be sentenced on October 9 after a hearing to determine if he's a sexually violent predator, according to court documents.

After a three-week trial featuring emotional and often graphic testimony from eight of the former Penn State assistant football coach's victims, a 12-person jury convicted him on 45 of 48 counts. There were convictions related to all 10 victims alleged by prosecutors, with the three not-guilty verdicts applying to three individuals.

The verdict prompted people in central Pennsylvania to breathe a sigh of relief, believing a man many called a "monster" would pay the price for his crimes and their impact on his victims, as well as the Penn State community.

Jurors did hear from eight young men who testified that as boys, Sandusky forced them to engage in sexual acts in showers in Penn State's athletics facilities, hotel rooms, the basement of his home and other places. The abuse spanned at least 15 years.

More on the Penn State scandal:

Forging a new meaning for the rally cry 'We Are...Penn State' 

Penn State scandal: Where things stand 

'Victim 1' sues Penn State over Sandusky abuse 

Jerry Sandusky brick removed from State College walkway 

Penn State to give back trophies because of NCAA sanctions 

Reaction to the Sandusky verdict 

Penn State alum: 'We are more than this tragedy' 

Post by:
Filed under: Jerry Sandusky • Penn State
When football, same-sex marriage and politics collide
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo is becoming well-known off the field for his support of same-sex marriage.
September 8th, 2012
02:48 PM ET

When football, same-sex marriage and politics collide

In his 10th NFL season, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo is catching more attention for his political views than his special teams talents. And after a Maryland politician slammed his views on same-sex marriage, other NFL players are stepping up to defend Ayanbadejo's freedom of speech.

Ayanbadejo is a vocal supporter of same-sex marriage. He filmed video shorts for Equality Maryland and even wrote about same-sex marriage for the Huffington Post in 2009.

State lawmaker and minister Emmett C. Burns Jr. is a self-described Ravens fan, but in a letter sent to team owner Steve Bisciotti, Burns said it was "inconceivable" that Ayanbadejo was publicly endorsing same-sex marriage.

In the letter, written on August 29 and obtained by Yahoo! Sports, Burns wrote, "Many of my constituents and your football supporters are appalled and aghast that a member of the Ravens Football Team would step into this controversial divide and try to sway public opinion one way or the other. Many of your fans are opposed to such a view and feel it has no place in a sport that is strictly for pride, entertainment and excitement.

"I am requesting that you take the necessary action, as a National Football Franchise Owner, to inhibit such expressions from your employee and that he be ordered to cease and desist such injurious actions. I know of no other NFL player who has done what Mr. Ayanbadejo is doing."

In March, Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley legalized same-sex marriage in Maryland, but the law doesn't take effect until 2013.

Amid the political convention-themed tweets filling his profile, Ayanbadejo responded on his Twitter page with this: "Football is just my job it's not who I am. I am an American before anything. And just like every American I have the right to speak!"

FULL POST

Post by:
Filed under: Football • Politics • Pro football • Same-sex marriage • Sports
Art Modell, former NFL owner, dies at 87
Art Modell, 87, was an NFL owner for 43 years, during which his teams won two Super Bowls.
September 6th, 2012
07:32 AM ET

Art Modell, former NFL owner, dies at 87

Former Baltimore Ravens owner Art Modell died Thursday, the team reported on its website.

Modell, 87, was an NFL owner for 43 years, during which his teams won two Super Bowls.

He died peacefully of natural causes at Baltimore's Johns Hopkins Hospital, the team said.

"'Poppy' was a special man who was loved by his sons, his daughter-in-law Michel, and his six grandchildren," Modell's son, David Modell, said in a statement released by the team. "Moreover, he was adored by the entire Baltimore community for his kindness and generosity. And, he loved Baltimore. He made an important and indelible contribution to the lives of his children, grandchildren and his entire community. We will miss him."

FULL STORY
Post by:
Filed under: Football • Obituary • Pro football • Sports
August 31st, 2012
10:19 PM ET

Penn State scandal: Where things stand

The Penn State football team started its first season since former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was found guilty of sexually abusing 10 boys over 15 years.

The Nittany Lions' home game against Ohio University also will be the first time since 1966 that the team starts a season without Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno, who died in January, two months after the board of trustees fired him for allegedly failing to take his knowledge of the scandal to appropriate authorities.

Though Sandusky was convicted in June, many parts of the Sandusky matter have not been resolved. Here is where things stand in the scandal:

FULL POST

Post by:
Filed under: College football • Courts • Crime • Football • Jerry Sandusky • Joe Paterno • Justice • Lawsuit • Penn State • Pennsylvania
Jerry Sandusky brick removed from State College walkway
The brick bearing Jerry Sandusky's was removed on Thursday after photos posted online sparked complaints.
August 30th, 2012
03:05 PM ET

Jerry Sandusky brick removed from State College walkway

A brick bearing Jerry Sandusky's name and that of his Second Mile charity has been removed from a walkway in downtown State College, Pennsylvania.

The brick is one of nearly 3,000 along Centennial Walkway in the downtown part of campus. The bricks bear the names of many notable figures from Penn State, including former President Graham Spanier and his wife as well as other alumni.

The Sandusky brick had gone mostly unnoticed as students passed through McAllister Alley, not far from the school's Old Main building, until it was noticed on Wednesday by the student-run independent Penn State blog Onward State and photographed by others, including a CNN journalist in State College.

The photo prompted calls for it to be pulled up, considering the school had torn down a statue of legendary former coach Joe Paterno in the wake of a scandal that has left Sandusky jailed for sexually abusing 10 boys over a period of 15 years. The school had no authority to remove the brick, many mentioned, since it wasn't on Penn State property.

Pat Daugherty, owner of the Tavern, a restaurant located along the walkway, said he received a call from State College Borough Manager Thomas J. Fountaine II on Thursday morning saying he had received calls after the photos circulated online.

"We honestly were not aware the brick was there until a day or two ago," Fountaine said.

He said it took a couple days to figure out whether officials could remove the brick, because ownership of the pedestrian walkway was unclear, but it wasn't specifically borough property.

That's when Fountaine called Daughterty, who offered to remove the brick.

"There was some vandalism that was occurring as well," Fountaine said. "Because of that and other issues, we thought it was appropriate to remove it."

Daugherty said he would probably return the brick to the borough because somebody had probably paid to have it put there during the school's centennial celebration.

Penn State to give back trophies because of NCAA sanctions
Penn State's trophy for their win in the 2006 Orange Bowl game is one of several they will return because of NCAA sanctions.
August 29th, 2012
04:27 PM ET

Penn State to give back trophies because of NCAA sanctions

Penn State will have to return all of the football trophies they won during a 14-year span as a result of sanctions handed down by the National Collegiate Athletic Association for school's role in the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal, a school official said on Wednesday.

The move is another blow to the State College community, which has been plagued by the scandal for nine months.

Earlier this summer the NCAA fined Penn State $60 million, banned the football program from bowl games for four years, stripped scholarships and vacated the team's wins from 1998 to 2011 following the Freeh Report, which issued a scathing statement about how much the university knew and when.

"Per the NCAA consent decree, all football team trophies won from 1998-2011 are to be returned to the awarding authority and we plan to do so," said Jeff Nelson, assistant athletic director of communications for football at Penn State.

Some of the trophies that the school will have to return include their bowl game wins. Penn State won the Outback Bowl in 1999 and 2007, the Alamo Bowl in 1999 and 2007, the Orange Bowl in 2006 and the Capital One Bowl in 2010.

While those residing in Happy Valley are still trying to resurrect their image in the wake of the scandal and show they still back their team, they do have one thing to smile about this week as they head into their first football game without famed coach Joe Paterno in more than four decades.

Their spirit has won them $10,000 for the school's general scholarship fund after they beat out more than 200 other schools in a voting campaign hosted on ESPN.com, according to a press release sent out by the school.

Penn State led the competition from start to end, the release said.

“We are elated to see this incredible expression of Penn State pride, spirit and support demonstrated by our students, alumni, faculty and staff, and friends and fans in winning the Pledge Your Allegiance contest,” Roger Williams, executive director of the Penn State Alumni Association, said in a statement. “This national victory is what Nittany Nation is all about. We know Penn Staters everywhere will join us in celebrating by wearing their blue and white with great pride.”

No 'Sweet Caroline' at Penn State games, no public allowed in most athletic facilities
The Penn State football team takes the field against Alabama on September 10, 2011.
August 28th, 2012
10:50 AM ET

No 'Sweet Caroline' at Penn State games, no public allowed in most athletic facilities

Penn State football fans will no longer be singing "Sweet Caroline" while cheering on their Nittany Lions, according to university officials.

Neil Diamond's classic song, often sung at sporting events and particularly at Boston Red Sox baseball games, has been rotated out of the playlist for Beaver Stadium this year.

Chatter quickly began building on the State College campus and on social media platforms after the Altoona Mirror newspaper reported that officials were concerned about the lyrics to the song, in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

Sandusky, a former assistant football coach at the university, was convicted in June of sexually abusing 10 boys over 15 years. He continues to maintain his innocence.

The song, said to be written about Caroline Kennedy, contains the lyrics: "Hands, touching hands, reaching out, touching me, touching you."

But those words, and the scandal, have nothing to do with removing the song from the game day playlist, Penn State spokesman David La Torre told CNN.

"Absolutely no song changes were made based on lyrics. This song has come up on the list in recent years because it happens to be played in so many other professional and collegiate venues and has no real origination here at Penn State," he said. "So while wholesale changes to what happens on game day are not in store, some 'updating' is going to occur, including the music playlist."

La Torre said the updating happened to include "Sweet Caroline" and noted that these changes happen "each year for both recorded music and the Blue Band," which plays at the games. The Altoona Mirror has recently updated its story to reflect that the choice was not made because of song lyrics.

While the playlist update may not be a result of the scandal, there has been one change that grew out of the Sandusky incident.

The numerous athletic facilities around Penn State will no longer be available to the public, a decision that Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers tells CNN was made as a result of several factors.

FULL POST

Autopsy: No apparent damage to Seau's brain
Junior Seau committed suicide May 2 in his Oceanside, California, home.
August 21st, 2012
07:56 AM ET

Autopsy: No apparent damage to Seau's brain

The brain of  former National Football League star Junior Seau showed no apparent signs of damage from Seau's years in professional football, according to an autopsy report released Monday.

Seau's death on May 2 in his Oceanside, California, home was classified as a suicide the next day by  the San Diego County medical examiner.

The autopsy results released Monday showed Seau shot himself in the chest with a hollow-point bullet from a .357-caliber revolver. The bullet hit Seau's heart, spleen and left lung.

He had used zolpidem, a sleep aid sold under the brand name Ambien among others, and naproxen, a pain reliever sold under the brand name Aleve among others, but there were no signs of alcohol, "common drugs of abuse," or other medications, according to the report by deputy medical examiner Craig Nelson.

Seau's suicide came on the heels of the suicides of other former NFL stars, including former Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson just over a year earlier.

FULL POST

Post by:
Filed under: Football • Health • Pro football • Sports
LSU: Heisman hopeful Mathieu, aka 'Honey Badger,' dismissed for breaking team rules
LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu speaks to the media before the BCS championship in January.
August 10th, 2012
03:10 PM ET

LSU: Heisman hopeful Mathieu, aka 'Honey Badger,' dismissed for breaking team rules

It's been said that Honey Badger don't care, but what may be more accurate is that Honey Badger don't play - at least not for the LSU Tigers.

The team, which played in last year's national college football championship game, announced this afternoon that their top player and arguably the nation's best cornerback, Tyrann Mathieu, has been dismissed for violating team policy.

“This is a very difficult day for our team,” head coach Les Miles said. “We lose a quality person, teammate and contributor to the program. However, with that being said, we have a standard that our players are held to and when that standard is not met, there are consequences."

Miles added, “It’s hard because we all love Tyrann. We will do what we can as coaches, teammates, and friends to get him on a path where he can have success. We are going to miss him.”

LSU did not say which team rule Mathieu broke. The 20-year-old All-American ran into trouble last year when he and two other players violated the team's drug policy. ESPN reported at the time that the trio tested positive for synthetic marijuana.

Mathieu and the others were suspended for their team's game against Auburn.

Despite missing the game, Mathieu was still a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, awarded to college football's best player, as a sophomore. In addition to winning the Chuck Bednarik Award, given to the top defensive player, he came in fifth in Heisman voting with 34 first-place votes and was the only defensive player among 10 finalists.

According to LSU, the Columbus, Ohio, native who attended high school in New Orleans, has registered 133 tackles - 16 for a loss - in 26 games for the Tigers. He also has four picks, 11 forced fumbles and eight fumble recoveries, as well as four touchdowns, two on punt returns and two on fumble returns.

The 5-foot-9, 175-pound Mathieu got his nickname for his fearlessness on the gridiron. Honey badgers are known to scrap with animals many times their size, including lions, and even tangle (successfully) with poisonous snakes.

Said the Dallas Cowboys' Morris Claiborne, a former teammate of Mathieu's: "Tyrann deserved the nickname ... because the honey badger takes what it wants, and Tyrann takes what he wants on the field," ESPN reported today in a profile.

The sports network had to add an editor's note, saying, "This story was published prior to Tyrann Mathieu's dismissal from LSU's football program on August 10."

Post by:
Filed under: College football • Football • Louisiana • Sports • U.S.
July 26th, 2012
10:36 AM ET

Report: Penn State faced 4-year 'death penalty'

Penn State faced a multiyear shutdown of its football program had it not agreed with the sanctions imposed by the NCAA earlier this week, university President Rodney Erickson told ESPN.

The football program at Penn State faced a four-year "death penalty," a complete cessation of football activities, Erickson said, according to the ESPN report, as well as fines well in excess of the $60 million levied.

The four-year death penalty option was confirmed by NCAA President Mark Emmert, who said in a separate interview with ESPN that what the network termed "a core group of NCAA school presidents" had agreed on the unprecedented sanctions.

Once Penn State learned of the NCAA intentions, school officials engaged in five days of secret discussions with the NCAA that resulted in the penalties announced Monday, ESPN reported. Those include the record $60 million fine, a four-year postseason ban, a four-year reduction in football scholarships and five years of probation. Penn State also was forced to vacate its football victories since 1998, including 111 by the late coach Joe Paterno.

FULL POST

Post by:
Filed under: Crime • Football • Jerry Sandusky • Joe Paterno • Penn State • Sports
Penn State alum: 'We are more than this tragedy'
An image of a Nittany Lion with the message of "Rise" has been popular on Twitter among Penn State alums and supporters.
July 25th, 2012
01:15 PM ET

Penn State alum: 'We are more than this tragedy'

The Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal that rocked Penn State University and football fans across the nation culminated this week in an unprecedented fine of $60 million against the school and severe sanctions for the Division I football program. The Nittany Lions are banned from the postseason for four years, will lose 20 football scholarships a year for four seasons and had 14 seasons of football victories from the late coach Joe Paterno vacated.

There's been no shortage of commentary on the issue: Was the NCAA too quick to make the decision? What will it mean for football? What does it mean for the legacy of Paterno?

But there's also the issue of how the Penn State community will now come together. Alums have responded in force, tweeting, posting photos and defending their school - not for the actions that occurred - but to show the rest of the world they won't let this scandal be their school's best known chapter.

Some have posted photos with the "WE ARE" Penn State chant but somewhat altered. One said: "Don't let people who don't know who 'we are' ... tell us who WE ARE." It has been a rallying cry of sorts, joining together alums from long ago with recent graduates. Many have been tweeting with the hashtag #WeAreAndAlwaysWillBe. Groups on Facebook have been created so alums and current students can share their views, including one called "We Are (still) Penn State."

"This is a group dedicated to healing the scars of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, recognizing and honor the victims and rebuilding the reputation of Penn State University and its football team as one of the premier institutions of higher learning and athletic tradition not only in the country but in the entire world," the group's page said. "We still believe that 'Success With Honor' is who we are, and that Coach Bill O'Brien is the best man to carry on that tradition on and off the field. The actions of an evil man and those that enabled and apologized for him do not define us, and it is our responsibility to write the next chapter in the history of Penn State."

Patterson Weaver, a lawyer who graduated from Penn State in 2001, posted a lengthy note on Facebook describing how he cannot reconcile what happened with the school he knows. Weaver said the world should know the actions of the few responsible should not define the culture of the university as a whole.

Weaver has given CNN permission to post his note in entirety below:

"Apparently, Sports Illustrated will run a cover this week that reads 'We Were Penn State.' Sports Illustrated and so many others clearly have no understanding of who We are. As a second-generation Penn State grad, I have grown up idolizing Penn State, Joe Paterno, and the excellent institution of higher learning that Penn State was, is, and will always be. I am one of hundreds of thousands that consider the Penn State community something unique and special. This goes beyond a football field. This goes beyond school pride. The culture at Penn State, in no small part because of Joe Paterno, taught all of us how to be better people, better friends, and better members of our families and our community.

"So how do I reconcile that with the allegations that a few individuals, including Joe Paterno, remained silent about the terrible actions of Sandusky? Honest answer is I can’t. The allegations do not gel with what each of us learned from our university, and yes, from Joe Paterno. Penn State has always been a beacon of how to do things the right way. Of putting academics and building quality young men and women ahead of fame and wins. I cannot reconcile these allegations with the culture that helped mold who I am. The culture that helped teach me that success is only sweet when done right. That a loss with integrity is better than a win without it. That who we are as men and women is more important than fleeting glory. I cannot reconcile what people are saying of my school with the school I lived and experienced.

FULL POST

NCAA clarifies transfer rules for Penn State football players
A player exodus is widely expected in the wake of harsh sanctions against Penn State.
July 24th, 2012
09:31 PM ET

NCAA clarifies transfer rules for Penn State football players

The NCAA on Tuesday spelled out how it is relaxing some rules to allow Penn State football players to transfer to other schools after the governing body of college athletics announced unprecedented sanctions Monday.

The Penn State football program, one of the top programs in the NCAA's major-school division, may be crippled by the sanctions announced Monday in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal and subsequent cover-up. The program is losing 20 scholarships a year and cannot play in postseason bowl games for the next four years, which is expected to drive many of its best athletes to other schools.

"The NCAA recognizes that current football student athletes will be negatively impacted by the Penn State sanctions," said Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president for academic and membership affairs. "We want to allow those eligible student athletes as much flexibility as possible while still being mindful of some of the transfer safeguards our membership has put in place." FULL POST

Post by:
Filed under: College football • Jerry Sandusky • Penn State • Sports
Former Penn State president: I was abused as kid, wouldn't ignore Sandusky allegations
Graham Spanier was fired from his position as president of Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
July 24th, 2012
10:00 AM ET

Former Penn State president: I was abused as kid, wouldn't ignore Sandusky allegations

Former Penn State President Graham Spanier said he would never have ignored accusations of child sex abuse on campus because, among other things, he "personally experienced massive and persistent abuse as a child," according to a letter he sent to the school's board of trustees.

"It is unfathomable and illogical to think that a respected family sociologist and family therapist, someone who personally experienced massive and persistent abuse as a child, someone who devoted a significant portion of his career to the welfare of children and youth... would have knowingly turned a blind eye to any report of child abuse or predatory sexual acts directed at children," Spanier said in the letter - which was dated Sunday and obtained by CNN Tuesday.

While Spanier has not been criminally charged in the case, an investigation by ex-FBI chief Louis Freeh concluded that he helped university officials conceal allegations of sexual abuse against the former assistant football coach.

Spanier disputes these findings in his letter, saying "at no time during my presidency did anyone ever report to me that Jerry Sandusky was observed abusing a child or youth or engaged in a sexual act with a child or youth."

Sandusky was convicted in June of sexually abusing young boys over a 15-year period.

More on the Penn State scandal:

Paterno loyalists: Sanctions excessive

Ex-Penn State pres: I was abused

History books, Paterno's legacy altered?

Penalties won't be school's final payout

Opinion: Will players stick around?

Post by:
Filed under: Jerry Sandusky • Penn State
Ochocinco becomes Johnson again
Chad Johnson and Evelyn Lozada, shown here in February 2011, have an upcoming reality show on VH1.
July 24th, 2012
08:33 AM ET

Ochocinco becomes Johnson again

Ochocinco is a fine last name for a bachelor but apparently not a married man, so the Miami Dolphins wide receiver who had legally changed his name to match his uniform number is back to Johnson again.

"Ocho-cinco" represents Johnson's number, 85, in Spanish.

"Chad Ochocinco has officially changed his name back to Chad Johnson," says a posting on Johnson's website, ocnnreport.com.

Johnson made the name change official at the Broward County Courthouse in Florida on Monday, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

FULL POST

Post by:
Filed under: Celebrity • Football • Pro football • Sports
July 23rd, 2012
05:04 PM ET

Do sanctions alter history books on Penn State and Paterno's legacy?

The NCAA's actions on Monday seem to be about more than just punishing Penn State's future football teams for the school's role in the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

In addition to the fines, bans and other sanctions it handed down that will hurt the storied program for a long time, in some eyes, the NCAA has wiped out almost all of the success of teams under coach Joe Paterno starting the moment he learned about Jerry Sandusky's actions but didn't do anything about it.

"Obviously, the 1998 date was selected because that's when the first reported incidents of abuse occurred and that's when the failure to respond appropriately began," NCAA President Mark Emmert said during a news conference on Monday. "And that was the point of time from which one could make an argument, of course, that the failures began inside the institution, so it seemed to both me and the executive committee that that was the appropriate beginning date."

Emmert's message was clear: The NCAA was choosing to punish a culture of silence, a culture that protected the program above all moral obligations and those responsible for making it that way.

Vacating wins has long been a debate in all sports. And so there is no surprise that the NCAA's ruling on Monday sent the debate over the decision to vacate the wins into a tailspin. But it raised questions about the implications the sanctions will have on past and current players, Paterno's legacy and ultimately Penn State's place among the best football programs.

Some say you can erase the wins, but it is an empty punishment that does nothing to move the university forward and doesn't ultimately change the facts. Others say it is the best way to punish a school: by wiping out a massive chunk of its history.

ESPN analyst and lawyer Jay Bilas told CNN that while the Penn State situation is egregious, the NCAA failed in doling out the penalties to the right people.

He believes the NCAA hammered the institution but failed to really hit those he believes are responsible, including former President Graham Spanier, former Athletic Director Tim Curley, former Interim Senior Vice President for Business and Finance Gary Schultz and Paterno.

“All any of them had to do was communicate (the Sandusky reports) to someone else. And all of them chose to be silent,” he said. “That’s unforgivable and unconscionable. The suggestions or implication that the football culture made them abandon their human decency is kind of offensive. Football didn’t do that; that was done by four individuals in positions of authority that could not be counted upon to do the right.”

And the message sent by the NCAA and Penn State based on the consent decree, Bilas believes, is that the culture of football was at fault, and so that institution should be punished. But Bilas believes that message neglects to get at the really heart of the issue.

“Putting this off on football just glosses over the fact that individuals were at a fault here, and they are not being held to account,” he said.

Bilas said he understood the frustration and anger of current and former Penn State players who say that by punishing the institution, the NCAA was punishing them, too.

FULL POST

Five experts: What happens to Penn State football?
Large crowds and Penn State victories at Beaver Stadium may be a thing of the past, college football experts say.
July 23rd, 2012
01:29 PM ET

Five experts: What happens to Penn State football?

Saying it is "a stark wake-up call to everyone involved in college sports," the NCAA announced a $60 million fine against Penn State University on Monday and took away 14 seasons of football victories from the late Joe Paterno.

The school's football team was also banned from the postseason for four years and will lose 20 football scholarships a year for four seasons, NCAA President Mark Emmert said.

Emmert said the unprecedented fine will be paid over five years to fund programs that serve the victims of child sexual abuse.

The Big Ten Conference also acted Monday, ruling Penn State ineligible for its conference title football game and saying the Nittany Lions' share of bowl revenues for the next four seasons - approximately $13 million - will be donated to charities that "protect children."

So what does that mean for the future of Penn State football? Five experts weigh in:

Yahoo! Sports' Dan Wetzel says a year of the "death penalty," a complete ban on football, would have been preferable to the sanctions Penn State received.

"It could've been abolished for a year, continued mostly business as usual and been back long before these recruiting sanctions will endure," Wetzel writes of Penn State football.

"It's nearly impossible to recruit a great or even good player when he knows he can't participate in the postseason until he is, at best, a senior. Any player worth his scholarship wants to compete for championships. Penn State players can't. So why wouldn't recruits just go to Michigan or Alabama or wherever?"

Dan Levy, national lead writer for the Bleacher Report, calls the sanctions "murder by suicide, college football style."

"Make no mistake: The NCAA sanctions are a death knell for Penn State football," Levy writes.

"The NCAA stepped in to make it virtually impossible for Penn State to field a competitive team this year, next year or any year in the next half decade," Levy says. "If that's not death, what is?"

Fox Sports' Jason Whitlock lines up with Wetzel and Levy.

"The sanctions cripple Penn State football. The four-year bowl ban, four-year scholarship reductions and the freedom granted to current players to transfer immediately without penalty or simply decline to play while maintaining their scholarships will make Penn State the Vanderbilt of the Big Ten," Whitlock writes. (Vanderbilt is a longtime doormat in the powerhouse Southeastern Conference.)

FULL POST

Post by:
Filed under: College football • Football • Joe Paterno • Penn State • Sports
Big Ten adds to NCAA sanctions
Students at Penn State react to the NCAA announcement of sanctions against their school's football program.
July 23rd, 2012
11:53 AM ET

Big Ten adds to NCAA sanctions

Editor's note: The National Collegiate Athletic Association announced a $60 million fine against Penn State University on Monday and banned its football team from the postseason for four years. The school will also forfeit all football wins from 1998, NCAA President Mark Emmert said. That decision strips the late Joe Paterno of the title of winningest coach in major football college history.

[Updated 10:53 am ET] The Big Ten conference added its own sanctions against member Penn State after the NCAA announced its penalties on Monday.

Penn State will not be allowed to participate in the Big Ten conference title game for the same four years in which it is banned from post season bowl games by the NCAA. Penn State will also not be allowed to share in the conference's bowl revenues for those four years, about a $13 million hit, according to a Big Ten press release. That money will be donated to children's charities, the release said.

[Updated 10:36 am ET] The NCAA sanctions against Penn State include the following restrictions on scholarships it can offer:

"Penn State must also reduce 10 initial and 20 total scholarships each year for a four-year period."

That means the football program can only offer the equivalent of 15 full scholarships to incoming freshmen or transfer students per year for four years beginning with the 2013-14 academic year and can only offer 65 full scholarships total each year beginning with the 2014-15 academic year. Scholarships may be divided among players as partial scholarships.

Former Penn State player Derek Moye says the vacating of victories ordered by the NCAA can't erase his memories of what he has been a part of:

[tweet https://twitter.com/dmoye6/status/227410096861372416%5D

Former Penn State player A. Q. Shiplet tweets a picture of rings he won at Penn State:

[tweet https://twitter.com/aqshipley/status/227414666773667841%5D

[Updated 10:20 am ET] Former Penn State quarterback Daryll Clark tweets on his reaction to the NCAA sanctions:

[tweet https://twitter.com/CaptainClark17/status/227392203893395456%5D

[Updated 10:03 am ET] A statement from current Penn State head football coach Bill O'Brien on the NCAA sanctions:

"Today we receive a very harsh penalty from the NCAA and as Head Coach of the Nittany Lions football program, I will do everything in my power to not only comply, but help guide the University forward to become a national leader in ethics, compliance and operational excellence. I knew when I accepted the position that there would be tough times ahead.  But I am committed for the long term to Penn State and our student athletes.

I was then and I remain convinced that our student athletes are the best in the country.  I could not be more proud to lead this team and these courageous and humble young men into the upcoming 2012 season. Together we are committed to building a better athletic program and university."

[tweet https://twitter.com/PeteThamelNYT/status/227403294006456320%5D

Do you think the NCAA penalties against Penn State were fair? Share your view with CNN iReport.

FULL POST

July 23rd, 2012
07:37 AM ET

Monday's live events

The race to the presidency now turns toward the general election in November.  CNN.com Live is your home for all the latest news and views from the campaign trail.

Today's programming highlights...

9:00 am ET - NCAA announces Penn State sanctions - One day after the Joe Paterno statue was removed outside Beaver Stadium, the NCAA will reveal "significant, unprecedented" penalties against Penn State University over the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

FULL POST


Filed under: College football • Football • Jerry Sandusky • Joe Paterno • On CNN.com today • Penn State • Politics
« older posts
newer posts »