The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

July 23, 2012

O'Brien scrambling to keep recuits

The Associated Press

Bill O’Brien, who was hired to replace Joe Paterno at Penn State, now faces the daunting task of building future teams with severe limitations, and trying to keep current players from fleeing to other schools. Star players such as tailback Silas Redd and linebacker Gerald Hodges are now essentially free agents.

“I knew when I accepted the position that there would be tough times ahead,” O’Brien said. “But I am committed for the long term to Penn State and our student athletes.”

Penn State’s season starts Sept. 1 at home against Ohio University.

The sanctions came a day after the school took down the statue of Paterno that stood outside Beaver Stadium in State College, Pa., and was a rallying point for the coaches’ supporters throughout the scandal.

NCAA President Mark Emmert had earlier said he had “never seen anything as egregious” as the horrific crimes of Sandusky and the cover-up by Paterno and others at the university, including former Penn State President Graham Spanier and athletic director Tim Curley.

The investigation headed by former FBI Director Louis Freeh said that Penn State officials kept what they knew from police and other authorities for years, enabling the abuse to go on.

There had been calls across the nation for Penn State to receive the “death penalty,” and Emmert had not ruled out that possibility as late as last week — though Penn State did not fit the criteria for it. That punishment is for teams that commit a major violation while already being sanctioned.

Penn State has already agreed to not fight the sanctions.

Emmert said the university and the NCAA have signed a consent decree, essentially a pact signing off on the penalties.

“This case is obviously incredibly unprecedented in every aspect of it, as are these actions that we’re taking today,” he said.

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