NCAA Levels Penn State With Heavy Fines and Sanctions

The football program will be banned from the postseason for 4 years and fined $60 million.

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The NCAA announced Monday that the Penn State University football team will be banned from postseason play for four seasons and fined $60 million, a fee that will go towards a national endowment that serves child sexual abuse victims.

The sanctions come after former defensive coordinator and assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was found guilty of 45 charges of sexual abuse in June, and 10 days after the findings of an investigation led by FBI director Louis J. Freeh were made public.

The Freeh report found that former head coach Joe Paterno and three other top Penn State administrators had concealed allegations of Sandusky's actions, and concluded their motive was to protect the football program and the school from negative publicity.

In addition, Penn State will lose 10 football scholarships for the next four years, will have all wins from 1998 to 2011 vacated, and will serve a five-year probationary period that will be overseen by an academic integrity monitor. The vacated wins means Paterno will no longer be the winningest coach in college football history.

Due to the length and severity of the punishment, the NCAA is granting all current and incoming Penn State players the option to transfer to another school immediately.

"Football will never again be placed ahead of educating, nurturing and protecting young people," Emmert said during a press conference Monday in Indianapolis.

Though the NCAA stopped short of imposing the "death penalty"—shutting down the Nittany Lions' program completely—the punishment is still crippling for a team that is trying to start over with a new coach and a new outlook.

Emmert fast-tracked penalties rather than go through the usual circuitous series of investigations and hearings.

[YOUR OPINION: Did the NCAA Do Enough to Punish the Penn State Football Program?]

Emmert had earlier said he had "never seen anything as egregious" as the horrific crimes of Sandusky and the cover-up by Paterno and others at the university, including former Penn State President Graham Spanier and athletic director Tim Curley.

"I think every major college and university needs to do a gut check" on the balance between athletics and academics, Oregon State president Ed Ray said. Ray also serves as the president of the NCAA's executive committee.

The NCAA also announced that it will reserve the right to conduct further investigations and punish individuals as needed after the conclusion of criminal proceedings related to the case.

 Later Monday, the Big Ten Conference, the league in which Penn State plays in, announced it was imposing additional sanctions.  Over the course of the NCAA’s penalties, Penn State football will not be allowed to play in the Big Ten championship game, and its share of bowl revenue over a four-year span-$13 million-will be donated to charities within the geographical boundaries of the conference. 

 Penn State could still face further punishment from the Department of Justice and the Department of Education, which are conducting their own investigations related to the scandal.

"There's nothing in this situation that anyone should feel good about," Emmert said. "No one feels that this is a positive situation in any sense. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Greg Otto is the News Editor at U.S. News & World Report. You can contact him at gotto@usnews.com, and or follow on Facebook and Twitter.

Corrected on : UPDATE: 07/23/12, 11:07 a.m.: This story was updated to reflect the sanctions imposed by the Big Ten Conference.