US & Canada

Penn State Sandusky sex abuse sanctions eased

College football fans watch an NCAA college football game between the Penn State and the Akron at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania 6 September 2014 Image copyright AP
Image caption The university's football team will be eligible to participate in a postseason bowl game this year

The body governing US collegiate sport has eased the punishment against a university where a football coach was convicted of sexually abusing children.

Penn State will be eligible to compete in a postseason "bowl" game this year, and its football scholarships will be fully reinstated next year.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association credited Penn State's "significant" progress toward reform.

In 2012 Jerry Sandusky was convicted of abusing 10 boys, some on campus.

He met the boys through a charity he ran.

After the assistant football coach's conviction, the NCAA banned Penn State from competing in collegiate football's celebrated postseason bowl games for four years, and reduced the number of football scholarships it could offer prospective players by 10 places per year for four years.

The school was also ordered to pay a $60m (£37m) fine and was stripped of more than 100 wins from the record books.

'Ethical culture'

The scandal damaged the university's reputation and led to the firing of veteran coach Joe Paterno and the resignation of university president Graham Spanier, as well as criminal charges against three senior university administrators, including Mr Spanier.

Monday's decision to halve the length of the university's banishment from postseason play and end the reduction in its football scholarships came after a positive report by former US Senator George Mitchell, who was appointed to monitor the university's response.

Mr Mitchell reported the school had made progress towards a new hiring system, "fostering an ethical culture", and improving security at its facilities.

"Penn State's commitment to the integrity of its athletics department and its progress toward meeting the requirements of the consent decree are clear," said NCAA executive committee chairwoman Rita Hartung Cheng.

The university's new president Eric Barron, who began work in February, said, "The actions taken by the NCAA today are a recognition of the hard work of many over the past two years to make Penn State a stronger institution."

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