Be worried. Be very worried.
From the rumors that have been flying around the Internet, NCAA President Mark Emmert will come down hard on Penn State at 9:00 AM ET when he announces “corrective and punitive measures” against the institution for its lack of oversight and leadership during the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
You’re all aware of the dog and pony show put on by Penn State yesterday with the removal of the Joe Paterno statue, which might have been conceived as window dressing for the NCAA, in view of the impending action and in line with showing that organization the intent by present Penn State leadership to implement positive changes. I suppose disenfranchisement of Paterno was the most visible symbolic grandstand play the university could complete in the short time frame available; however, in this Turkey’s considered opinion, it looked just like what it was. If the NCAA doesn’t see through this gratuitous gesture, I’ll be glad to eat my one remaining PSU cap in Joseph A. Danks’ window.
It would have been much better to have spent the time rushing into force the required Clery Act compliance protocols, don’t you think?
The preliminary consensus, fueled by leaks, logical extrapolation of past penalties to other schools, and just plain wild-assed guesses, contends that punishment could possibly include:
- A ban on post-season play. This is almost assured, but the question is for how long. Penn State will presumably join Ohio State, presently in the NCAA doghouse, thus putting one-third of the Big Ten Leaders Division out of contention for the conference championship and any bowl games.
- A loss of scholarships. USC set the precedent in this area for their transgressions with respect to Reggie Bush. They lost 10 scholarships. Pseudo-wonks are suggesting that Penn State could be docked at least 10 scholarships per year for three years, which would severely cripple the program, making recruiting difficult if not impossible. If the NCAA were to take away more than 10 per year, it would be tantamount to the much bandied about “death penalty.”
- A ban on TV broadcasts. This would hurt Penn State in the wallet and recruiting. The television revenue loss would hurt not only PSU but also its opponents for each of the non-televised games. Recruiting would suffer because recruits want visibility to their families and to the NFL.
- A large fine. Wiseguys are tossing around numbers in the seven digit range. Presumably, the proceeds would be channeled to charities supporting sexually abused children.
- A reduction of Joe Paterno’s victories. There hasn’t been much discussion of this one in public, but you can bet that there are lots of rumblings from the Bowden and Robinson camps. How the number of victories to be vacated would be decided is anybody’s guess, particularly because the transgressions in this case cannot be directly related to a competitive advantage in football games.
- The “death penalty”. A complete shut-down of the football program for one or more years.
Emmert could surprise us in either direction, but most of us are girding for the worst based on comments made by the NCAA leader, who described the Penn State scandal as an “unprecedented problem” that calls for consideration of meting out any or all of the penalties enumerated above plus the possibility of the “death penalty.” “I’ve never seen anything as egregious as this in terms of just overall conduct and behavior inside a university,” remarked Emmert in a PBS interview.
Penn State will, of course, appeal whatever is meted out. Michael L. Buckner, a lawyer who blogs about college and high school sports legal issues, thinks that the NCAA is overstepping its bounds, specifically:
- The conduct of Penn State and its employees, no matter how egregious, is not a violation of an existing NCAA rule. In fact, according to available information, the NCAA has never interpreted, or issued sanctions under, existing rules to address only criminal violations (or the cover-up of criminal violations). Further, the NCAA has chosen to make criminal activity an NCAA rules-violation in limited circumstances (i.e., Bylaw 10.2 (Knowledge of Use of Banned Drugs) and Bylaw 188.8.131.52 (Banned Drugs))—and the activities described in the report by former FBI director Louis J. Freeh are not addressed in the NCAA Division I Manual.
- The NCAA did not establish and publish a process and procedure to address the issues relevant in Penn State’s case. Instead, the NCAA is utilizing an ad-hoc process that has not been explained fully to the membership or the public.
- The NCAA is not adhering to its existing enforcement processes and procedures.
- The NCAA is treating Penn State differently than other schools that were involved in sexual assault scandals or other serious criminal misconduct.
- The NCAA failed to provide Penn State: (a) a written notice of allegations; (b) an opportunity to respond to the notice of allegations; (c) a hearing before an NCAA infractions committee to address the allegations; and (d) a process for an appeal of NCAA findings and sanctions.
Thanks to Mike Robinson for bringing this post to our attention.
On the other hand, we have John Infante, a former compliance officer at two NCAA schools and an expert on the organization’s disciplinary system. He maintains that the NCAA is a private, member based organization that has wide latitude to mete out punishment. “The NCAA is not required to hold to the due process we think of in the criminal justice system,” said Infante.
Now, we wait. This will hurt us fans, no doubt, but even worse pain will be suffered by the Penn State football related businesses in Central Pennsylvania: the restaurants, the hotels, the PSU merchandise stores, and the gas stations. The loss or diminishing of football in the area will create a mini-recession within a long-term national economic slump.
The NCAA is moving swiftly due to criticism of that organization’s long delays in deciding punishment for recent issues at Auburn, Ohio State, and USC, among others. The decision will be announced just 11 days following the issuance of the Freeh Report.
We’ll discuss this some more after we digest the 9 AM announcement.