(State College) -- The NCAA gradually restore Penn State football scholarships that were taken away as part of the sanctions handed down against the Nittany Lions in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky case.
Penn State will be allowed to offer five additional football scholarships starting with the next academic year.
The NCAA Executive Committee has decided to restore the scholarships based on the university's continued progress toward ensuring athletics integrity. The decision follows the recommendation of the university's Independent Athletics Integrity Monitor, former US Senator George Mitchell.
``While there is more work to be done, Penn State has clearly demonstrated its commitment to restoring integrity in its athletics program," Mitchell says.
The gradual increase will continue until the program has a full complement of 85 scholarships in the 2016 - 2017 school year.
Coach Bill O'Brien says he's happy for the players, staff and fans.
"I feel good for our student body," O'Brien explained on a conference call this afternoon. "You know they've been so supportive of this football program since the day I walked in here, I just can't say enough about them. On a day like this when some of the scholarships are restored, I think it's a good day for all of those people."
Penn State President Rodney Erickson says today’s action recognizes the significant efforts over the past year to make Penn State a safer, stronger institution.
All other sanctions levied in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case remain in place -- including a 60 million dollar fine.
However, the NCAA suggests continued progress could lead it to lighten the football program's five year ban on post-season play.
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