Penn State coach Bill O’Brien will soon have a few more scholarships to offer when he hits the recruiting trail.
On Tuesday, the Nittany Lions got some rare good news from the NCAA, which will restore some of the scholarships taken from the school as part of the punishment over the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Five will be reinstated next year, and more will be phased in until the school reaches normal totals in 2016-17.
“We have to keep doing what we’re doing,” O’Brien said, “which is work extremely hard to do what’s right for our football program here, for our players, our student-athletes, and most importantly, for the university.”
The NCAA credited the school for making significant improvements to its athletic programs after the Sandusky scandal. The scholarship number will continue to increase until Penn State reaches the full allocation of 25 initial football scholarships in 2015-16 and 85 total in 2016-17.
While the surprising reversal won’t help this season’s Nittany Lions (3-1), O’Brien was pleased the sanctions were eased for the long-term health of the program.
“It’s more about the future,” the second-year coach said.
Even better for Penn State, the NCAA said it also may reduce the postseason ban – currently a four-year bowl ban that expires after the 2015 season – depending on the university’s future progress.
The NCAA said the unanimous decision by its executive committee was based on the recommendation of former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell, who has been serving as Penn State’s athletics integrity monitor.
“We’ve made mistakes and we’ve owned up to those,” O’Brien said. “Like, if we sent an improper text or made an extra phone call, we’ve tried to report that right away. We try to do things the right way. We’re certainly not perfect.”
The NCAA’s decision to ease the scholarship restrictions won’t appease critics who questioned whether the organization had the authority to punish the football team over the Sandusky scandal. Former coach Joe Paterno’s son Jay, a former assistant coach, and ex-cornerback Stephon Morris were among those ripping the NCAA on Twitter on Tuesday.
EX-LSU COACH DIES AT 89
Paul Dietzel, who led LSU to its first national title, in 1959, has died at age 89.
LSU spokesman Kent Lowe said Dietzel died early Tuesday after a brief illness but didn’t provide any other details. The Dietzel family also posted an online notice of his death.
Dietzel coached LSU from 1955 until 1961, and later Army and South Carolina. He was the last living member of the staff that guided LSU to an undefeated season and national championship in 1958. The Tigers beat Clemson in the 1959 Sugar Bowl.
ASU OFFICIAL RESIGNS
Arizona State assistant athletic director for football recruiting Sherman Morris has resigned, several weeks after being arrested in an alleged domestic-violence incident.
Morris, who has been on administrative leave since early September, was arrested by police in suburban Chandler, Ariz., on one count of aggravated assault-serious physical injury and one count of aggravated assault-strangulation on Aug. 29.
Court documents say Morris allegedly grabbed his wife from behind and lifted her off the ground while choking her at their home. Police say Morris’ wife had bruises on her arm, broken teeth and a laceration that was still bleeding when officers arrived.
Morris was hired by ASU in March after six seasons at Louisiana State, where he was director of player personnel.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney says starting receiver Martavis Bryant will have his playing time reduced against Wake Forest for making unacceptable throat-slashing gestures following a touchdown catch against North Carolina State last week. Also, Clemson will be without reserve offensive lineman Isaiah Battle, who was suspended by Swinney after punching a Wolfpack player late in the game. … East Carolina coach Ruffin McNeill suspended two-year starting nose tackle Terry Williams indefinitely for a violation of team policy.