Penn State’s other sports will survive
Sanctions levied Monday by the NCAA against Penn State’s disgraced football program will not put the university’s fledgling hockey teams on ice.
Nor will the other 26 programs that comprise Penn State’s athletic department be negatively impacted by punishments against the football program that include scholarship reductions, disqualification from bowl games, vacated victories and a $60 million fine.
“People are going to see that figure and be wowed by it, but it’s not a significant number considering the ability of that program and that institution to generate money,” said Daniel Fulks, a professor at Transylvania (Ky.) University.
Penn State football has faced intense public scrutiny in the wake of a child sexual assault scandal. NCAA president Mark Emmert said the governing body of collegiate athletics set new precedent to punish the program because of findings from the trial of former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky and the university-commissioned Freeh Report that alleges a cover-up by four high-ranking university officials, including late ex-coach Joe Paterno.
The fine will go to a fund for external programs preventing child sexual abuse or assisting victims.
“Those dollars will come from the institution in a way that doesn’t undermine the funding of Olympic sports programs or scholarships in those programs,” Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said.
Fulks served as lead accountant for a 2010 report commissioned by the NCAA that analyzed revenue and expenses for Division I athletic programs. The report found that 60 percent of college football programs made money from 2004-09. Few were more profitable than Penn State, which made $53.2 million in 2010.
After football profits paid for non-revenue programs, the Penn State athletic department netted $19 million.
The non-revenue programs — commonly called “Olympic sports” and a group that excludes men’s basketball — are funded by the financially successful football program, which generates profits primarily from home football games and alumni/booster contributions, Fulks said.
“And I don’t think football will suffer financially because those fans will continue to fill that stadium every weekend, and we already know that fundraising since November is higher than it was from the same previous period,” Fulks said.
Since a 2001 Beaver Stadium expansion that set seating at nearly 107,000, the smallest crowd for a Penn State home football game was 95,636 on Sept. 24, 2011. During four of five losing seasons from 2000-04, the smallest home crowd was 94,296 on Sept. 2, 2000.
Fundraising for 2011-12 increased to $208.7 million, reported Penn State’s division of development/alumni relations.
Penn State president Rodney Erickson and athletic director David Joyner declined comment other than statements released through the university’s communications department. Both men have previously expressed a desire for Penn State to be known for more than its once iconic football program.
Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at [email protected] or 412-380-5635.