On the eve of its season opener in Ireland with the University of Central Florida, Penn State football appears to be in its best shape of recent years: A new report suggests that a reduction of its four-year NCAA bowl ban now seems likely. That would make this season the last without the possibility of a postseason appearance.
Two sources within the NCAA say Penn State, if it continues to “reach and go beyond” benchmarks set by the NCAA in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, will have a “strong case” to get its final year of postseason probation lifted.
As early as next week, George Mitchell, Penn State’s athletics integrity monitor, will release his second annual report on the state of the university’s athletics programs. The NCAA last year restored some scholarships after Mitchell’s first report that, according to one NCAA source, “reached well beyond expectations.”
And reduction of the bowl ban increasingly seems to be the consensus viewpoint. Slate on Thursday ran an opinion column saying “it’s time for the NCAA to end its pointless punishment of the Penn State football program.” But the scars left from the Sandusky era remain, as well: The Wall Street Journal this week called the Penn State program the most “embarrassing” in the country.