After recommendations from George Mitchell — apparently the go-to guy for sports investigations — the NCAA decided to reduce some of the harsh sanctions levied at Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky molestation charges. The football program will be given back scholarships until they are fully restored in 2017. The postseason ban is still in place, but the NCAA reserved the right to review that decision should Penn State continue to make progress.
There really isn't any need to go back over what happened, in part because the two viewed as most responsible — Joe Paterno and Sandusy — aren't around to perpetuate or ignore the problems that existed. Paterno passed away with his name in ruin, loved only by Penn State students and fans who seemed unable to realize the damage caused by his inaction. Sandusky rots in a cell, and although he'd like an appeal he isn't likely to get one (and it's even less likely to be successful).
Essentially, those remaining at Penn State didn't have much, if anything, to do with the unforgivable crimes that took place in Happy Valley. Mitchell and the NCAA indirectly acknowledge this while praising the university's efforts at preventing future problems.
“While there is more work to be done, Penn State has clearly demonstrated its commitment to restoring integrity in its athletics program,” said Mitchell. “The university has substantially completed the initial implementation of all the Freeh Report recommendations and its obligations to the Athletics Integrity Agreement, so relief from the scholarship reductions is warranted and deserved."
"Providing relief from the scholarship restrictions will give more student-athletes an opportunity to attend Penn State on athletics scholarship while also creating an incentive for the university to continue its progress under new leadership after President Erickson’s impending departure,” said Mitchell.
Though some question the merit of a hefty punishment if it is only to be rescinded later, the NCAA's habit of punishing kids for the crimes of adults gives it a bad name and hurts the people who make the NCAA what it is — the student-athletes.
No amount of punishment could undo or even out the damage caused by Sandusky and Paterno, but this decision at least makes it easier to start moving on.