Penn State football now ‘irrelevant,’ experts say

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Penn State football now ‘irrelevant,’ experts say

STATE COLLEGE, Pennsylvania - The governing body of U.S. college sports refrained from delivering the “death penalty” to Penn State’s storied football program on Monday, but it effectively put it into a coma that will last half a decade or longer, college football experts said.

“They don’t matter anymore after these sanctions today,” said Jed Donahue, owner of The Pennsylvania Sports Network and a radio sports talk-show host for 20 years.

In an unprecedented rebuke to the university and its football program for failing to stop one-time assistant coach Jerry Sandusky’s sexual abuse of children, the NCAA fined Penn State $60 million to be used to fund a foundation to help victims of child sex abuse, voided 14 seasons of victories, slashed the number of football scholarships it may hand out and banned it from playing in post-season bowl games.

The penalties fell short of an all-out suspension of the football program, referred to in college sports circles as “the death penalty.” But it could have roughly the same effect on the near-term vitality of the Penn State program.

The current Nittany Lions team is coached by Bill O’Brien after the late Joe Paterno, a once-towering figure in college sports, was fired last year because of the scandal. O’Brien’s biggest challenge now is likely the loss of bowl appearances, followed by the reduced number of scholarships.

“Any four- or five-star player is not going to come to Penn State because you can’t compete for Big Ten championships and you can’t compete for a national championship and you can’t go to a bowl game,” Donahue said.

The NCAA also removed 20 of Penn State’s 85 scholarships over the life of the ban. “The depressed scholarships mean that this is going to be, essentially, a Division 1-AA team,” said Devon Edwards, a recent Penn State graduate.

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