Penn State is taking the correct steps to implement changes outlined by the NCAA last summer, according to the latest report from former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell, the independent athletics integrity monitor assigned to the school. Mitchell also writes that the school is making progress to implement recommendations from Louis Freeh following the release of the Freeh Report.
Colleague Gene Wojciechowski writes that the NCAA should reduce some of the severe penalties it imposed on the Penn State football program. He notes that the consent decree Penn State signed last summer "may be modified or clarified by mutual written consent of the parties."
The sanctions, which went into effect in 2012, are harsh: a four-year bowl ban, four years of scholarship reductions and a $60 million fine. The Big Ten added its own penalties, declaring the program ineligible for the conference championship game and bowl-related revenue until 2016.
But as the mileage between then and now grows larger, so does the context and perspective of the situation. And with that context comes the realization that Penn State deserves a parole hearing.
He goes on to write:
Do something like this: If Penn State continues to get high marks from Mitchell in 2013, then eliminate the sanctions in 2014. If Penn State does the same in 2014, then eliminate the final year of sanctions in 2015.
In this scenario Penn State still will have suffered two years of crushing competitive and financial penalties, as well as feel the residual effects of those sanctions in seasons to come. But the scenario also incentivizes the university, rewards change and shows compassion. And here's guessing the Big Ten, which followed the NCAA's lead relative to a postseason ban and loss of revenue, would adjust its penalties accordingly.
You can read the entire column here.