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PSU needs this year as head start on $60 million fine

July 25, 2012
By Michael Boytim ( , The Altoona Mirror

If you believe NCAA president Mark Emmert, Penn State avoided the death penalty Monday because PSU president Rod Erickson and the Board of Trustees have made moves in the right direction toward fixing what went wrong during the university's handling of the Sandusky scandal.

One look at the $60 million fine tells a different story.

Emmert made sure to point out that Penn State is not allowed to pay off the fine through academic cuts or by trimming other sports programs.

So where is the money going to come from? It will come from where most of the money does at Penn State, the football program.

That is why Emmert, Erickson and the rest of the NCAA didn't agree to shut down football operations for a year or longer.

This season will be an important one for Penn State in regards to paying off its debt.

The season tickets and donations to the program are already paid for and sent in for 2012.

Fans who are outraged by the scandal and/or don't want to see what basically amounts to exhibition games since Penn State has no chance of winning the Big Ten championship or participating in a bowl game don't have a choice on whether they want to pay for tickets.

They already did.

If Emmert would have suspended Nittany Lion football for this upcoming season, Penn State would have been forced to refund ticket sales and possibly donations of up to $600 per seat.

Granted, the money is going to a good cause. Emmert declared it will aid external programs preventing child sexual abuse and helping victims of abuse.

Emmert claimed Penn State football became bigger than the university, yet in his time as the NCAA president, college football has been built as a money-making cash cow more than during any other president's reign.

When the recently announced college football playoffs begin, the highest bidding city will host the biggest games. That will open the financial floodgates.

A year ago, Penn State offered its season ticket holders an opportunity to transfer tickets from one family member's name to another. The cost of that was $1,500 per seat.

If a grandfather passed his four tickets to his grandson, the fee was $6,000. If the four seats were in the highest donation area in the new STEP program, the total fee for donations that season would have been $2,400. Without even accounting for the actual price of the tickets ($55 per game) and parking, that family of four would have paid $8,400 that season for four tickets per game to seven home football games.

That donation process isn't likely to change.

But next year, people will have a choice. They can continue to pay up to $600 a seat donation to see a team that may be starting walk-ons with no opportunity to go to a bowl game, or they can give up their seats.

As much as the area loves Penn State football, it's hard not to expect a significant season-ticket holder dropoff if the STEP program remains the same.

That's why Penn State will be playing football this season - the last one in which fans paid to see the Nittany Lions before knowing of the current sanctions.

Michael Boytim is a sportswriter for the Mirror and a Penn State season-ticket holder. He can be reached at or 946-7521.

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