As Penn State prepares to open training camp for the 2013 season on Monday, Bill O'Brien and the coaching staff (and players) will have one less thing to worry about starting today. Today marks the expiration date for one part of the NCAA sanction terms levied against Penn State last summer. The free transfer option made available to all players under scholarship last summer is officially over today, according to the Associated Press. According to the NCAA sanction terms, any player under scholarship was allowed to transfer to another program accepting them without having to sit out a season under typical NCAA transfer rules.
''Emotionally, that's a big chunk out of the way,'' athletic director Dave Joyner said Wednesday. "Preseason, the beginning of August, and the transfer rule is not there, so that's one piece done.''
Penn State has three more years of a postseason ban, scholarship reductions and to pay off a $60 million fine (a quarter of that has already been paid). Penn State will be eligible for postseason play again in the 2016 season barring any unforeseen changes from the NCAA, which are not really expected despite O'Brien's discussions suggesting a hope to at least open a discussion with the NCAA.
The Nittany Lions did lose a good handful of players during the free-transfer period. Running back Silas Redd to USC was the most notable, but the loss of Anthony Fera to Texas may have actually cost Penn State more in the win column in 2012. Justin Brown left for Oklahoma and tight end Kevin Haplea moved to Florida State. Quarterback depth took a blow with the preseason move of Rob Bolden to LSU and the in-season departure of Paul Jones to FCS Robert Morris. The Nittany Lions also lost some recruits to other programs in the aftermath of the NCAA sanctions and with only 15 scholarships to offer to a recruiting class, O'Brien and his staff have been somewhat hampered in what they can do. In spite of the uphill battle, Penn State has been doing a pretty commendable job in recruiting under O'Brien. Since day one of the NCAA sanctions, O'Brien has remained focused on moving forward and working with what he can.
''You know, a lot of things that we talked about last year when I was here, it's water under the bridge,'' O'Brien said at Big Ten media days in Chicago. ''But at the same time I've said this over and over again, our staff, myself - we're thankful for our players. Our players are tough. They're resilient. They're good kids.''
Penn State kicks off the 2013 season in MetLife Stadium against new ACC member Syracuse on August 31.