SBD/July 25, 2012/Colleges

Emmert Claims Penn State Scandal Demanded That NCAA Act In Some Way

Emmert will have to ask for power similar to that used against PSU
NCAA President Mark Emmert said as the facts in the Penn State scandal began to unfold "both in the media but also during the criminal trials and then of course through the Freeh Report, it became clearer and clearer that this really demanded -- not called for -- but demanded a role from the NCAA." Emmert discussed the sanctions put on the PSU football team with ESPN's Bob Ley and said, "It wasn't completely clear until that Freeh Report came out that was so exhaustive and so thorough that it was obvious.” Ley asked Emmert whether he still had the power from the NCAA Exec Committee to singularly enforce discipline on schools or whether it is "back up on the shelf and you'd have to reapply and have another meeting” with the Exec Committee. Emmert said he asked the Exec Committee “to look at this in a very different light, and to do as they've done in other cases in the past." Emmert: "This isn't the first time this has happened, but to give me the authority for just this case in a very prescribed, very narrow fashion ... it's very confined. It's just this one act. If we were to do it again, we’d have to go back and start all over again.” Ley asked Emmert, “Was it a case for Penn State basically, 'Sign that document, accept what we are telling you are the penalties, or there will be a death penalty of multiple years?'” Emmert: “No, it wasn't that at all.” Ley interjected and said that PSU President Rodney Erickson “pretty well suggests that, doesn’t he?” Emmert: “You'd have to talk to President Erickson about that.” Emmert said the death penalty was "unequivocally on the table and it was widely discussed” between himself and the Exec Committee. Emmert: “There was a lot of sentiment that that ought to be one of the variables in a package of penalties. There was never a consideration that it would be by itself" ("Penn State: The Price of Scandal," ESPN, 7/24).

THEY GOT IT WRONG
: In Baltimore, Chris Korman writes the NCAA's "unprecedented sanctioning of the football team -- doled out by president Mark Emmert himself -- solves nothing." If anything, it "reinforces the wrong message: that football matters." Emmert "came to the NCAA throne seeking a signature decision to mark him as a man who cares about the sanctity of so-called amateurism in college athletics." But if he is "of the honest belief that hurting Penn State's chances of winning football games for a few years somehow solidified his role as the true enforcer of what the NCAA stands for, he has apparently missed the whole point entirely" (BALTIMORESUN.com, 7/24). ESPN.com's Tim Keown wrote there is "only one honest way to look at the punishments slapped on Penn State: The NCAA set out to create a losing program, and it went about the task systematically, with all the subtlety of a watermelon being tossed from the back of a moving pickup." This "wasn't reform; this was after-the-fact, frontier-style revenge." It would have been "neater and more humane to have imposed a one-year death penalty on the Penn State program -- and that's exactly why the NCAA didn't do it" (ESPN.com, 7/24).

HAD TO DO SOMETHING: CBS' Jim Rome said, “There are plenty of things that the NCAA has gotten wrong, but this is not one of them. There was no way the NCAA could sit this one out.” Rome said if the NCAA did not levy penalties against PSU, the organization “would have even less credibility and legitimacy" than they have now (“Rome,” CBS Sports Network, 7/24). ESPN’s Rod Gilmore said, “The NCAA’s very relevance was somewhat at stake here.” Ley said to Gilmore, “Are you saying in ... a very perverse sense this is almost a good opportunity for the NCAA to stand up and take an uncontroversial position ... to the benefit of our image?” Gilmore: “Yes it is” ("Penn State: The Price of Scandal," ESPN, 7/24).

THE SLIPPERY SLOPE: In L.A., Baxter Holmes writes, "The NCAA has done more than hammer the Penn State football program with crippling sanctions. It has entered the crime business." In past situations in which athletics and criminal activity "intertwined, the NCAA got involved only after its rules had been violated." Whether the NCAA "overstepped its bounds in the Penn State case has been debated." Florida-based attorney Michael Buckner, who has represented schools in infractions cases, said that the NCAA's actions with Penn State "mark a 'slippery slope' and that clients have already raised concerns" (L.A. TIMES, 7/25).
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