Penn State University was close to getting a more serious penalty from the NCAA over the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, the school said Wednesday.

PSU's Board of Trustees met Wednesday to discuss the recent sanctions levied against the school in the aftermath of the Sandusky scandal, ultimately deciding against fighting the punishments.

Penn State's football program was fined $60 million -- which must go to charities-- as well as a four-year bowl game ban, reduced football scholarships and the forfeiture of 112 wins under head coach Joe Paterno dating back to 1998.

"The Board finds the punitive sanctions difficult and the process with the NCAA unfortunate," the board said in a statement. "But as we understand it, the alternatives were worse as confirmed by NCAA President Mark Emmert’s recent statement that Penn State was likely facing a multi-year death sentence."

The Board of Trustees met to discuss whether Penn State President Rodney Erickson violated protocol by agreeing to the sanctions without consulting them. The sanctions have the potential to cost PSU upwards of $500 million.

But Penn State was facing another investigation by the NCAA, just after one lead by former FBI director Louis Freeh concluded, and it could've gotten worse than that.

Emmert and Erickson told ESPN there was the discussion of Penn State being completely banned from NCAA football for four years. A majority of NCAA school presidents was pushing for the four-year ban, Emmert told Erickson in a July 17 conversation.

University spokesman David La Torre confirmed the school could've been banned for four years, in a punishment commonly referred to as the "death penalty."

"If the death penalty were to be imposed," Emmert said earlier this week, "I'm quite sure that the executive committee and I ... would not have agreed to just the death penalty. It would have included other penalties as well."

The U.S. Department of Education is also investigating Penn State to verify whether it violated the Clery Act. The university also faces civil lawsuits.

Read the full statement from the Board of Trustees, issued Wednesday evening:

The Penn State Board of Trustees met for a discussion tonight. A vote was not required and none was taken. The Board finds the punitive sanctions difficult and the process with the NCAA unfortunate. But as we understand it, the alternatives were worse as confirmed by NCAA President Mark Emmert’s recent statement that Penn State was likely facing a multi-year death sentence. The University and Board resolve to move forward together to recognize the historical excellence in Penn State’s academic and athletic programs. We anticipate and look forward to demonstrating our outstanding performance in complying with the sanctions. We continue to recognize the important role that intercollegiate athletics provides for our student athletes and the wider University community as we strive to appropriately balance academic and athletic accomplishments. Penn State will remain a world-class educational institution of which our students, faculty, staff and alumni can be justifiably proud. The commitment demonstrated by our student athletes in recent days embodies all that is good about Penn State and we look forward to unprecedented support by the Nittany nation when we take the field this fall.

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  • Workers handle the statue of former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno before removing the statue Sunday, July 22, 2012, in State College, Pa. The famed statue of Paterno was taken down from outside the Penn State football stadium Sunday, eliminating a key piece of the iconography surrounding the once-sainted football coach accused of burying child sex abuse allegations against a retired assistant. (AP Photo/John Beale)

  • State College and Penn State University police form a line in front of Beaver Stadium moments after the statue of former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno was removed Sunday, July 22, 2012, in State College, Pa. The famed statue of Paterno was taken down from outside the Penn State football stadium Sunday, eliminating a key piece of the iconography surrounding the once-sainted football coach accused of burying child sex abuse allegations against a retired assistant. (AP Photo/John Beale)

  • FILE - The statue of former Penn State University head football coach Joe Paterno stands outside Beaver Stadium in State College, Pa., in this July 13, 2012 file photo. Police and construction workers have barricaded both sides of street and the sidewalks near the Joe Paterno statue at Penn State University Sunday July 22, 2012. A chain-link fence has been erected around the perimeter surrounding the statue.(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

  • FILE - A statue of former Penn State University head football coach Joe Paterno stands outside Beaver Stadium on in this July 12, 2012 file photo. Police and construction workers have barricaded both sides of street and the sidewalks near the Joe Paterno statue at Penn State University. A chain-link fence has been erected around the perimeter surrounding the statue. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

  • Signs of support are displayed at the base of the statue of Joe Paterno located outside Beaver Stadium in State College, Pa., Friday, July 20, 2012. Paterno's statue stands outside the stadium even as his reputation has swiftly fallen following a scathing special investigative report that found he helped cover up child sex abuse allegations against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. (AP Photo/John Beale)

  • Jenni Kahler

    Jenni Kahler, right, holds her daughter, Emma, 4, as they have a photo taken with the statue of Joe Paterno located outside Beaver Stadium in State College, Pa., Friday July 20, 2012. Paterno's statue stands outside the stadium even as his reputation has swiftly fallen following a scathing special investigative report that found he helped cover up child sex abuse allegations against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. (AP Photo/John Beale)

  • Fans wait to have a photo taken with the statue of Joe Paterno located outside Beaver Stadium in State College, Pa., Friday July 20, 2012. Paterno's statue stands outside the stadium even as his reputation has swiftly fallen following a scathing special investigative report that found he helped cover up child sex abuse allegations against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. (AP Photo/John Beale)

  • Kim Ranck touches the arm on the Joe Paterno statue as she walks away in tears Wednesday, July 18, 2012. Ranck, a 2006 Penn State University graduate and current Penn State employee, was out of town when the controversy surrounding the statue broke and came to visit before something happened to it. The Joe Paterno statue, on the Penn State campus, in State College, Pa., has become a highly debated topic since the release of the Louis Freeh report. (AP Photo/Centre Daily Times, Nabil K. Mark) MANDATORY CREDIT

  • A plane flying the Penn State University campus in State College, pulls a banner reading "Take the statue down or we will" on Tuesday, July 17, 2012. The Paterno statue outside Beaver Stadium has been a point of much contention. Critics have called for the statue to be taken down after the Freeh report concluded that Paterno was aware of a 1998 allegations against Sandusky _ in contrast to his grand jury testimony and an interview given after his firing _ and that he was involved in the decision to not report a 2001 incident to the authorities even after his superiors had decided to. (AP Photo/Centre Daily Times, Nabil K. Mark) MAGS OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT

  • Signs and flowers lie at the foot of a statue of former Penn State University head football coach Joe Paterno outside Beaver Stadium in State College, Pa., Friday, July 13, 2012. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

  • Megan Toth

    Megan Toth of State College, Pa., climbs on a statue of former Penn State University head football coach Joe Paterno outside Beaver Stadium in State College, Pa., Friday, July 13, 2012. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

  • A young boy places a yellow rose at the foot of a statue of former Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno outside Beaver Stadium in State College, Pa., Thursday, July 12, 2012. After an eight-month inquiry, former FBI director Louis Freeh's firm produced a 267-page report that concluded that Paterno and other top Penn State officials hushed up child sex abuse allegations against former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky for more than a decade for fear of bad publicity, allowing Sandusky to prey on other youngsters. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

  • Gina DiJohnson

    Gina DiJohnson, who will graduate from Penn State University in three weeks, poses for a picture with a statue of former Penn State Football coach Joe Paterno outside Beaver Stadium on the Penn State campus Wednesday, July 11, 2012. The Freeh Report on the Jerry Sandusky child sex scandal at Penn State will be released Thursday morning. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)