Penn State had severe sanctions levied against them this morning in response to the Jerry Sandusky child sex scandal, including a $60 million fine, a four-year postseason ban, the loss of 40 scholarships over four years and a limit of fielding a team of just 65 players. However, the NCAA has enabled all Penn State players to be eligible to transfer freely and play immediately, and are still determining whether or not to consider them to be amnestied players, meaning they would not count the receiving school’s scholarship count.
On the surface, that’s a major potential win for both USC and Ohio State, who are both saddled with scholarship restrictions and their own sanctions. However, according to the NCAA, players from Penn State would only be amnestied from the scholarship count for one season, as the scholarship count would have to reflect that change in the next season.
Additionally, the NCAA is considering waiving scholarship limits for programs to which these football student-athletes transfer, provided they reduce proportionately in the next year. For example, the limit is 25 new scholarships per year to a total of 85 scholarships. If the limits are waived in 2012-13 to accommodate one Penn State student-athlete who wishes to transfer to a particular school already at the limits, in 2013-14 the school will be limited to 24 new scholarships and 84 total scholarships.
Not only does it make it hard for the Trojans to go after a junior like star running back Silas Redd, but even a senior with only one year of eligibility would count against the following year’s scholarship count.
Essentially, it’s not an amnesty, but a parlay.
With USC stuck with a 75-man scholarship limit, bringing one PSU player would force the Trojans to have a limit of 74 scholarships the following year, and it’s hard to say that’s worth it.
Consider that if USC could add any one player to the fold, it would likely be a running back, hence the mention of Silas Redd. However, is adding Redd worth losing a scholarship for the Class of 2013?
To put it in perspective, if the Trojans took on Redd, they would be adding three running backs to the roster in 2013, considering that Ty Isaac and Justin Davis are committed to the Class of 2013. But given the NCAA decision on the matter, a scholarship would have to be accounted for somewhere within the Class of 2013.
But where? Would the Trojans essentially end the Class of 2013 at 17 players instead of the now possible 18? Or would USC have to decide that it’s more valuable to have one or two years of Silas Redd than a full career of Isaac and Davis?
Lane Kiffin won’t be pulling a scholarship to Isaac or Davis anytime soon, that’s preposterous. But he has to be trying to gauge just how dire a need for another running back is.
What’s riskier? Relying on a thin backfield with Curtis McNeal, an unproven D.J. Morgan and a rookie Buck Allen? Or going hard after a proven commodity to aid McNeal, but having to pay the scholarship forward a year?
Whatever the answer is, we’ll have to wait until the NCAA decides whether or not the scholarship limit will be able to be circumvented. As of 7:57 am this morning, as mentioned by ESPN’s Joe Schad, the NCAA is still holding firm to the limits.