“This is a very distinct and very unique circumstance,” Emmert said.
By issuing the penalties in this way, Emmert and the NCAA bypassed the tedious and often years-long infractions process — forgoing a formal NCAA investigation into Penn State in favor of swift action.
Penn State players will be allowed to transfer immediately and be eligible elsewhere. The vacation of wins also means that former famed Penn State football coach Joe Paterno is no longer the winningest coach in the major college football history.
Emmert’s actions come less than two weeks after the school’s internal investigation led by former FBI director Louis Freeh determined that Penn State leaders, including Paterno, former Athletic director Tim Curley, former President Graham Spanier and ex-Vice President Gary Schultz, agreed to cover up Sandusky’s abuses.
Sandusky, a longtime Paterno assistant, was found guilty on 45 counts involving 10 boys.
The penalties were not as severe as the “death penalty” that the NCAA issued against Southern Methodist in 1987, which included a one-year ban on the program’s football team for a litany of violations, largely involving payments to players by boosters.
Those penalties crippled SMU for decades.
But the sanctions are considered to be by far among the harshest the NCAA has handed down in its history and certainly among its harshest since issuing USC’s football team in 2010 a two-year postseason ban and the loss of 30 scholarships over three years.
The NCAA hit USC with those penalties in response to allegations that star tailback Reggie Bush and his family had received improper benefits from would-be marketing agents, including living rent-free in a house near San Diego.