NCAA President Mark Emmert announced the staggering sanctions Monday at a news conference in Indianapolis. Though the NCAA stopped short of imposing the "death penalty" - shutting down the Nittany Lions' program completely - the punishment is still crippling for a team that is trying to start over with a new coach and a new outlook.
Sandusky, a former Penn State defensive coordinator, was found guilty in June of sexually abusing young boys, sometimes on campus.
The NCAA announcement came shortly after Penn State took down its famed statue of Paterno, six months to the day since his death from lung cancer. The university said leaving it up would be a "recurring wound" for Sandusky's victims. An accomplished defensive coordinator, Sandusky was convicted of molesting young boys over more than a decade.
New Penn State coach Bill O'Brien says he's committed to the school despite the harsh sanctions imposed Monday by the NCAA, including a four-year postseason ban and a big loss in scholarships.
Coach O'Brien: Stay Despite Sanctions
School President Rodney Erickson says Penn State accepts the penalties. He says the NCAA sanctions will help the school "define our course."
Emmert's moves were aided by the July 12 release of the report by former FBI director Louis Freeh and what it said about Paterno and the rest of the Penn State leadership.
READ THE FREEH REPORT
Hear the NCAA News Conference
The investigation focused partly on university officials' decision not to go to child-welfare authorities in 2001 after a coaching assistant told Paterno that he had seen Sandusky sexually abusing a boy in the locker room showers. Penn State officials already knew about a previous allegation against Sandusky by that time, from 1998.
The leaders, the report said, "repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky's child abuse from authorities, the university's board of trustees, the Penn State community and the public at large."
Sandusky is awaiting sentencing after being convicted last month of sexually abusing 10 boys over 15 years.
Emmert had warned Penn State last fall that the NCAA would be examining the "exercise of institutional control" within the athletic department, and said it was clear that "deceitful and dishonest behavior" could be considered a violation of ethics rules. So, too, could a failure to exhibit moral values or adhere to ethics guidelines.
The Freeh report also said school had "decentralized and uneven" oversight of compliance issues - laws, regulations, policies and procedures - as required by the NCAA.
Callers to WBEN's Bauerle program Monday morning reacted to the Penn State announcement, including Mike from Williamsville, who says he played defensive back for the Nittany Lions in the 1988 and 1989 seasons before transferring to the University at Buffalo. He summed up his current feelings about the school for co-host Ron Dobson.
"At the end of the day what it means for me is it's something that I was a part of, and it's much bigger than one individual," he says.
He reacted to the sanction saying, "The football program has definitely been tarnished, but we have to do what's best now for the victims and pull together."
He thinks it could take Penn State a decade to recover from the punishment.