Penn State Penalties Mean Pollard, Other Players Now Free Agents
The NCAA will allow Nittany Lions football players to transfer out and play immediately in the wake of major sanctions against the university.
In the wake of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal, West Deptford lineman Jamil Pollard never wavered in his desire to be a Nittany Lion after high school.
Despite being recruited by everyone from Rutgers to Florida, and with a serious push from Boston College into the fall before he re-committed to the Nittany Lions, Penn State was always No. 1.
“Things happen,” Pollard said earlier this year. “But Penn is still a good school, no matter what. My recruiting class will be the recruiting class that will help guide the comeback of Penn State, although Penn State wasn’t going to change anyway.
“It’s still a great school and a great program, no matter if one guy leaves or the whole coaching staff leaves.”
But with an axe slamming down on the program from the NCAA Monday, if Pollard changes his mind, the NCAA has given him—along with the rest of the program—the opportunity to jump ship and not lose any eligibility, and even play football elsewhere as early as this fall.
The punishments levied against Penn State—a $60 million fine, loss of scholarships, a four-year bowl ban, five years of probation and the forfeit of 111 wins dating back to 1998—are a heavy blow to a university known for its football program.
If Pollard sticks with the team, it would mean he might never have a shot at a national championship—or even just the Music City Bowl or one of the other nearly three dozen postseason games.
Pollard told the Philadelphia Inquirer heading into Monday morning’s announcement the incoming class was under a gag order from head coach Bill O’Brien, and declined to talk about the situation.
“I'm deferring all comment to Coach O'Brien,” Pollard told the Inquirer.
O’Brien released a statement via Penn State’s athletics office Monday, and said he's still committed to building the program back to prominence.
“I knew when I accepted the position that there would be tough times ahead,” O’Brien said in the statement. “But I am committed for the long term to Penn State and our student-athletes. I was then and I remain convinced that our student athletes are the best in the country.”
Even before the announcement was made, Penn State was taking hits—Timber Creek’s Greg Webb dropped his commitment Saturday and announced a decision to go the University of North Carolina instead.
For players like Pollard, who are already signed to scholarships, the NCAA has announced a provision to allow them to transfer to any other school and play immediately, without the normal one-year waiting period, and has also waived scholarship limits for any school they transfer to for this year.
Any teams taking current Nittany Lions that goes over the scholarship limit of 25 players for this year’s class would have to make up the difference next year.