For Penn State, it’s a living death.

The NCAA didn’t kill the football program, but it stripped most of the life and vitality out of it.

It is breathing ­and gasping for air. It will likely survive but with a noticeable limp for years.

The penalties for allowing a sexual predator (former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky) on campus for more than a decade, then covering up his misdeeds at almost every turn, are aimed right at the heart: $60 million fine, no bowls for four years, a scholarship cap of 65 for four years beginning in 2014 and 111 of Joe Paterno’s victories (from 1998-2011) vacated.

That means that according to NCAA records, Paterno’s wins for 14 years (in which he apparently looked the other way or allegedly blocked the investigation) go kapoof. Never officially happened.

In addition to the bowl ban, Penn State cannot share in any of the Big Ten’s bowl revenue, which could amount to about $14 million. That’s on top of the $60 million fine. And no telling how much the further financial penalties will be, pending the results of legal action by Sandusky’s victims. You may see tattered Penn State officials with tin cups on a sidewalk near you.

The cap of scholarship players at 65 means the Nittany Lions will be playing with 20 fewer for four years than their opposition. In that regard, Penn State is effectively an FCS team playing in a BCS conference. NCAA Football Championship Series institutions, such as the University of Central Arkansas, have a football scholarship cap of 63 in any given year.

With no postseason or title prospects for four years, Penn State players will be playing only for funsies and to restore the program’s dignity, which it has very little right now.

Mark Emmert, the head of the NCAA, whose inconsistencies in rules enforcement have been widely criticized, sent a message that there is apparently a new standard — or maybe an age-old standard (the do-right rule) needed sharper teeth. He said he intends to change the culture about putting winning and image and institution above human values.

According to damning charges out of a private investigation by former FBI director Louis Freeh, somewhere in the last two decades, Penn State’s leaders and the king of its kingdom (the late coach Joe Paterno) lost their moral compass.

When you build your program on the motto, "Winning With Honor," you better mean it. You better live it.

And it goes beyond building libraries.

The Penn State program is now on life support.

It will only survive with a transfusion of character and ethics.

(Sports columnist David MCCollum can be reached at 505-1235 or