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NCAA announces it has restored Penn State's bowl eligibility


Early Monday afternoon, the NCAA announced that the controversial $60 million fine levied against Penn State following the eternally ugly Joe Paterno/Jerry Sandusky can stay within the state of Pennsylvania. An hour later, the NCAA unveiled even bigger news, at least within the realm of college football: 

Additionally, the NCAA also announced that the Nittany Lions will be allotted "the full compliment of scholarships" in 2015-16. The Big Ten has revoked its postseason ban as well. 

Essentially, Penn State has been let out of its sanctions early with good behavior following an audit by George Mitchell.

"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 and NCAA executive committee chair Rita Hartung Cheng. "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."

In a completely unprecedented decision, NCAA president Mark Emmert stepped outside his organization's disciplinary process to levy Penn State with a $60 million fine, a four-year bowl ban, and a cap of 15 scholarships from 2013-16. 

The leadership in Happy Valley has completely changed hands since the ugly revelations surrounding Sandusky and Penn State leadership in the fall of 2011. The football program is now on its second head coach.

This entire saga has been a mess for all involved - what sense does it make to take away education opportunities from teenagers who had affiliation to Penn State's previous regime? - and now, at least on-the-field football terms, it is over.

"Penn State has made remarkable progress over the past year,” said South Carolina president and NCAA board memeber Harris Pastides. "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."

That sound you hear is James Franklin celebrating like he just beat Savannah State 83-9.

"We are very appreciative of the opportunities the NCAA and Big Ten have provided with today's announcement," Franklin said in a statement. "This team plays for each other. We play for Penn State, our families, the former players, our students, alumni, fans and the community. We are so proud to represent Penn State and the Big Ten Conference and are working hard to prepare for our Big Ten opener at Rutgers."