Pat Haden responds to Penn State sanctions

In a statement Monday, USC Athletic Director Pat Haden urged all fans to remember the victims affected by the child sexual abuse scandal involving former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky, calling the ordeal “unfortunate and tragic.”

Earlier, the NCAA announced penalties against Penn State, including a $60 million fine and a four-year postseason ban, as a result of the school’s failure to report allegations against Sandusky that originated in 1998.

The punishment for the football program also includes a reduction of 10 scholarships each year over the next four years and a vacation of 111 wins from 1998-2011. As a result, Joe Paterno no longer stands as college football’s winningest head coach.

“We can’t speak to how these sanctions are going to impact the Penn State program,” Haden said. “At USC, we found that the most difficult part of our NCAA sanctions has been the reduction of scholarships.”

USC was hit with NCAA sanctions in June 2010 because of a “lack of instutitional control” after two former student-athletes, running back Reggie Bush and a basketball player, O.J. Mayo, received improper benefits. The program, as a result, suffered a loss of 30 scholarships over three years and must carry no more than 75 scholarship players beginning with the 2012 season through 2014. Teams are allowed to carry a maximum of 85 scholarship players per year.

“We are fortunate to have an outstanding group of coaches and a plan in place to deal with our sanctions,” Haden added. “You have to be very judicious in recruiting, you have to be lucky with injuries and you have to guard your roster from players being recruited by other schools. It is an inexact science and you have to do the best you can. Our coaches have handled these challenges extremely well.”

Like USC did in the months following sanctions, the Nittany Lions’ program now faces questions whether it can remain among college football’s elite programs.

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