“It was kind of just like a head shaker,” said Matt Bray, an 18-year-old freshman from West Chester, Pa. “You knew it was coming, but it was hard to hear.”

Emmert had earlier said he had “never seen anything as egregious” as the horrific crimes of Sandusky and the cover-up by Paterno and others at the university, including former Penn State President Graham Spanier and athletic director Tim Curley.

The Penn State investigation headed by former FBI Director Louis Freeh said school officials kept what they knew from police and other authorities for years, enabling the abuse to go on.

There had been calls across the nation for Penn State to receive the “death penalty,” and Emmert had not ruled out that possibility as late as last week — though Penn State did not fit the criteria for it. That punishment is for teams that commit a major violation while already being sanctioned.

“This case is obviously incredibly unprecedented in every aspect of it,” Emmert said, “as are these actions that we’re taking today.”

Penn State football under Paterno was built on — and thrived upon — the premise that it did things the right way. That it was not a football factory where only wins and losses determined success. Every major college football program tries to send that message, but Penn State built its brand on it.

Paterno’s “Grand Experiment” was about winning with integrity, graduating players and sending men into the world ready to succeed in life, not just football. But he still won a lot — a record-setting 409 victories.

The NCAA had never sanctioned, or seriously investigated Penn State. Few, if any, national powers could make that claim.