Mark Emmert, Hypocrite

It doesn’t require much more digging than is possible with a cheap computer and an Internet connection to find a plethora of reference points calling out Mark Emmert’s hypocrisy.

Take Ken Armstrong’s op-ed in the Seattle Times, for example. In essence, he opined that the culture at the University of Washington that Emmert walked into was just as corrupt, as would be just about any big-time football school.

Then, there was Emmert’s famous quote, “Simply put, success in LSU football is essential for the success of Louisiana State University.”

In 2010, Mark Emmert called Joe Paterno “the definitive role model of what it means to be a college coach.” He sang a much different tune on July 23 this year.

Then, there’s Ty Duffy’s piece, in which he states:

The punishment and the manner of its delivery, though, still carry the whiff of catering to the prevailing wind and charging triumphantly into an already razed village to plow salt into the fields. The true work has been and is being done and this distracts from it. The NCAA piled on, largely because it can right now with impunity.

Or, Bob Kravitz, of the Indianapolis Star:

It’s as if the NCAA looked in the mirror, didn’t like what it saw and reacted by lashing out at Penn State.

Of course, an equal number of writers have excoriated Penn State for its transgressions, stating that the penalties were deserved and appropriate. It is hard to fight public opinion where child victims are involved, where rationality and reason often take a backseat to emotion. Who can argue with the fact that children were mistreated and nobody did anything about it? Anything up to and including revocation of Penn State’s charter is on the table when child protection hysteria sets in.

Mark Emmert viewed this emotional climate as the perfect opportunity to pile on in order to show that the NCAA was “doing something” about the ignominious influence of football over academics, exceeding his authority by making Penn State the poster boy for all formerly good universities that have become vacuous football factories. If he could, by virtue of the unfortunate Sandusky scandal, make a negative example of Penn State, a purported paragon of athletic cleanliness and academic excellence, then other institutions would quake in their boots. No one was safe. Moreover, the public’s thirst for blood would be assuaged and the NCAA would be viewed as the hero.

A hero hiding a dirty not so little secret: that it actively promotes the football culture it condemned so visibly with Emmert’s Penn State grandstand play. To paraphrase Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel: never let a good crisis go to waste. Emmert hopped onto Penn State; it was his perfect “wag the dog” opportunity.

One problem with this approach, aside from its dishonesty, vindictiveness, and inappropriateness, is that throwing all the heavy artillery fire Penn State’s way left the ammunition locker empty. Having described Penn State’s issues as “unprecedented”, calling for maximum punishment, Emmert gave himself no leeway for penalizing schools that transgress in the areas of his purview, the confluence of athletics and academics.

That leads us to the University of North Carolina, a classic case of a big-time athletic program making a mockery of the so-called student-athlete. As you may recall, an internal audit revealed 54 ghost classes that never met yet yielded credit-hours and grades for the lucky students, most of whom were athletes steered to them by academic advisers. The university has expressed a reluctance to dig deeper, afraid that what its investigation revealed is only the tip of the iceberg. Chancelor Holden Thorp is hoping this will all go away, but he is pledging his support to whomever cares to get involved. He has now asked for a former state governor and a national management consulting firm to investigate the scandal.

But where is Mark Emmert? Having lunch with Vicky Triponey?

The NCAA has been mum on the subject.

Isn’t this the type of scandal that is completely under the NCAA’s purview? When will we see some action on this, Emmert? I want to know when the NCAA takes on the basketball and football culture at UNC. Shadenfreude perhaps, but I’m willing to bet that UNC gets off easy.

What’s your next move, Mark? The clock is running.


  1. BigAl says

    Great summary of the issues. You should send it to the clowns at ESPN as an example of what a well written column looks like.

    • says

      Flattery will get you nothing, except more spewing from my keyboard. Thanks, though. It is always good to feel appreciated.

      Being a blogger, I write what’s on my mind, not what my editor tells me to write. That’s worth a lot to me. I feel that I have more journalistic freedom than the big boys, but, alas, far fewer resources.

      I’m not so much of a megalomaniac as to think that my efforts, along with the concerted efforts of the broad collection of bloggers, could bring down the NCAA Goliath, but it’s fun to think that maybe we all can find a chink in the armor.

      Enjoy the weekend.


  2. Rick says

    Emmert and his cronies are too busy patting each other on the back for slamming PSU to get involved. There’s nothing worse than a double standard. Especially one that speaks to the culture of an institution. Doesn’t this situation scream lack of institutional control if counselors and department heads were involved??

    • says

      Yes, it does.

      So, why is the NCAA laying back on the UNC scandal? Because without UNC, March Madness loses a lot of fanatical appeal, which translates to a lot of lost revenue for the NCAA?

      Or, to take a walk on the wild side, is it that Vicky Triponey’s boss is a UNC alum and just co-endowed a chair there? The Triponey Axis is getting a little bit over the brink into black helicopters when it is this far off base, but someone has to show me that all the connections involving Vicky are merely coincidental.

      Minor players aside, it all falls back on the NCAA, the organization that brought us “student-athletes for fun and profit.”


    • says

      Forsooth! This is taking on the characteristics of a Shakespearean tragedy. It would be right up Joe Paterno’s alley.

      Interesting how this whole college football thing has destabilized since JP died. I do believe that he was one of the constants that reeled things in when they got too wild. His influence on the sport as an elder statesman was not bounded by the Penn State campus.

      Sure, he was a miserable, stubborn curmudgeon sometimes, but he cared about the sport and the so-called student-athletes. Without him, the NCAA is flexing its muscles, as is the Big Ten.

      Interesting post in BSD today. The poster thinks that Delany is up to something in given that sanctions against PSU and OSU will cut into B1G revenues. To cut a long story short, the conjecture is that once the Pac-12 TV network gets going, the PAC-12 and the B1G will be able to pull out of the NCAA to form their own association, negotiate their own TV contracts, etc. They would keep the Rose Bowl, and so on, and so on, and so on.

      I applaud that guy for his ability to think outside the box. I’d never considered anything like that. What I do think, however, is that the NCAA is at a critical juncture, and by exceeding its presumed authority with Penn State, it has pissed a lot of people off. I’d love to see the seeds of sedition sewn against this “voluntary” organization. I think it is vulnerable right now. The UNC thing might be what it takes to get the ball rolling.

      Emmert sure as hell went “a bridge too far.”


  3. Artificially Sweetened says

    Maybe Emmert is waiting for the results of the investigation. UNC may take heed and not pay for its own petard.

    • says

      The NCAA recently investigated UNC, resulting in coach Butch Davis getting the axe. I suppose they’re embarrassed that the investigation missed this egregious collection of long-term sins. The precedent is set. If Emmert can base PSU penalties on the Freeh report, he can use UNC’s internal report similarly.


  4. Deshaun says

    I’m curious as to what possible motivation UNC has to find and/or self-report anything with this “investigation.” It seems Mark Emmert has effectively removed any motivation for any school to do so with his Penn State decision.

    • says

      Lots of reasons come to mind. With the NCAA, it appears that the punishment is not necessarily fitted to the crime.

      Perhaps UNC thinks that with the scandal having been blown by the media and by NCSU fans, they better act like they are doing something about it or they’ll make matters worse if Emmert ever gets around to penalizing them. Or if I crank up my paranoia, maybe UNC made a backroom deal with the NCAA to make a big show of it so the NCAA wouldn’t be put in a position to sanction the Tar Heels right out of the big dance for a couple of years, which would be cutting off its nose to spite its ugly face. Because of the Peppers involvement, basketball is in play for sanctions.

      Most of the NCAA’s annual revenues emanate from the basketball tournament, to the tune of $777 million last year, and the Tar Heels are perennially a big draw. Multi-year sanctions could potential depress tournament revenues, although most of the income is from TV rights, which were awarded to Turner Broadcasting for $10.8 billion for 14 years.

      I could be way off base here, but I think we’ll see unequal treatment of UNC and Penn State, if the NCAA even gets around to dealing with UNC again. PSU’s sins, as perceived by the public and catalyzed by the ever helpful sports media, can never be exceeded, which Emmert can use to moderate the penalties to other institutions for mere academic/athletic issues.


    • says

      It just occurred to me that Syracuse, another perennial major force in March Madness, seemed to have escaped the PSU Punishment Paradigm even though they had a sex scandal in the BBall program. Will they get away with just firing an assistant coach? Furthermore, Syracuse also reported repeated drug policy violations in the basketball program over a 10 year period. That was last year.

      In an article about the Syracuse situation, Dan Wetzel wrote:

      The NCAA will fall when the public is able to open its eyes. They need to free themselves from the NCAA tunnel vision that something such as the Syracuse story is about what the possible punishment might be. They need to think that if school after school keeps violating the rules, maybe it says more about the rules than the schools. Then they need to ask why those same schools keep writing more rules.

      They need to understand what each one of these scandals is really about: not some unnamed Syracuse players, but one more brick falling in the NCAA’s charade.

      It shouldn’t be that confusing.

      No, it shouldn’t. And if you follow the money, it isn’t.


  5. lawrence hamilton says

    What will happen to the NCAA sanctions if by some possiblity one or all of the PSU officers are found not guilty? The allegations made against them are hard to prove so this is a possibility. I’ve read Emmert was PSU’s “friend” during this episode? This whole thing is like Don Corleone’s thugs making a movie producer an offer he could not refuse.

    • says

      I’ve characterized the extortion Emmert pulled on Erickson exactly that same way. Not only did Emmert threaten PSU with the death penalty (supposedly) but also he told Erickson to tell no one about their deal before Emmert announces it. That sure seems like the Mafia silencer to me. Omerta.

      The trials of Curley and Schultz won’t start until January. Not only do we see a rush to judgment of Paterno and PSU, but also a tacit denial of a speedy trial for the other two. The problem with that is that Curley is very ill with lung cancer. If he doesn’t last until January, then doubts will continue to exist.


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