Not to be outdone by the NFL's jaw-dropping news, the NCAA has restored Penn State's football postseason eligibility in an unexpected announcement Monday.
Due to Penn State’s progress in ensuring athletics dept functions with integrity, NCAA immediately restores football postseason eligibility.— Inside the NCAA (@InsidetheNCAA) September 8, 2014
BREAKING: NCAA: Penn State to be bowl-eligible this season, will get all scholarships back next year.— The Associated Press (@AP) September 8, 2014
The move, which brings both football scholarships and bowl eligibility back to the Nittany Lions, comes nearly two years after former longtime assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was sentenced to prison for charges of child sexual abuse.
The NCAA stated the decision came as a result of former U.S. Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell's report lauding the school for its efforts in improving accountability after the Sandusky case. The report was Mitchell's second annual review of Penn State's compliance with the Athletics Integrity Agreement established in 2012.
Below is the full statement from the NCAA:
Due to Penn State University's significant progress toward ensuring its athletics department functions with integrity, the NCAA Executive Committee today eliminated the school's postseason ban, effective immediately, and will return the full complement of football scholarships in 2015-16.
The committee's action endorses recommendations released today by George Mitchell, the university's athletics oversight monitor, in his latest report.
In addition to the scholarship and postseason participation changes, Mitchell also recommended that if Penn State continues to make impressive progress at the conclusion of the 2015 report, Mitchell's oversight may conclude substantially earlier than 2017, the date set forth in the original agreement between the NCAA and Penn State.
'Penn State's commitment to the integrity of its athletics department and its progress toward meeting the requirements of the Consent Decree are clear,' said Northern Arizona President Rita Hartung Cheng, who chaired Monday's Executive Committee meeting. 'We thank Senator Mitchell for his meticulous and exhaustive work over the past two years. Mitchell's efforts and the dedication of Penn State officials made today's decisions possible.'
Executive Committee leadership met Monday with the NCAA Division I Board of Directors and presidents from the Big Ten Conference prior to taking a vote on the action. During these discussions, Mitchell briefed the group on his work to date and the university's compliance with the athletics integrity agreement.
The Board of Directors also accepted Mitchell's report and endorsed the Executive Committee's action.
'Penn State has made remarkable progress over the past year,' said Harris Pastides, Board member and University of South Carolina president. 'The board members and I believe the Executive Committee's decision is the right one. It allows both the university and the association to continue to move toward a common goal of ensuring that educating, nurturing and protecting young people is a top priority.'