Penn State could have its ban on postseason football lifted by next year if it receives a favorable report on how it has complied with recommendations made in the Freeh report in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual-abuse scandal, the Sporting News reported Wednesday.
The Sporting News quoted two sources within the NCAA as saying that the university would have a "strong case" to get the probation lifted if it continues to "reach and go beyond" benchmarks set in the NCAA sanctions following release of the Freeh report, which investigated Penn State's response to Sandusky's crimes.
Former Sen. George Mitchell, Penn State's athletics integrity monitor, is expected to issue his second annual report on the state of the athletic program, perhaps as early as next week.
Mitchell's initial report last year prompted the NCAA to restore scholarships. The Nittany Lions have 75 total scholarships for this season and 80 next year. Under the initial sanctions from July 2012, they were supposed to have 65 each year, 20 fewer than the maximum. Penn State will be allowed to have 85 again for the 2016 season.
One NCAA source told the Sporting News that Mitchell's first report "reached well beyond expectations."
The original sanctions saddled Penn State with a four-year postseason ban beginning with the 2012 season. The team is not allowed to play in the Big Ten championship game or a bowl.
Nittany Lions coach James Franklin, who is in Ireland and was unavailable Wednesday for comment, has said he is aware of the coming report but admitted that he did not want to get the hopes up of anyone within the program, and was not focused on it.