What if Penn State didn't have football? The question seemed silly a year ago, but now it's possible if the NCAA hands down its harshest penalty following the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal: a shutdown of the Penn State football program.
State College business leaders said Happy Valley without football would be like a summer at the New Jersey shore without beaches.
Studies show that upwards of $70 million are generated during the seven Saturday home games each fall. Restaurants, hotels, shops, transportation and even the cleanup crews rely on Penn State football, not only in State College and Centre County, but in surrounding counties as well.
To punish the program would also punish all Penn State sports and 790 student-athletes. Football, by far, rakes in the money – $53 million last year – and a sizeable portion helps to pay for scholarships, travel, uniforms, and equipment for 27 other Nittany Lion teams.
The NCAA is investigating whether Penn State lost control over its athletic program and violated ethics rules. An internal investigation headed by former FBI director Louis Freeh found that late football coach Joe Paterno and three other top officials buried allegations against Sandusky to protect the university's image.
Sandusky, a former assistant football coach, is awaiting sentencing on 45 counts related to the sexual abuse of 10 boys over a 15-year period.