NCAA hits Penn State hard, but ‘death penalty’ appropriate (UPDATED with video)

Mark Emmert moved fast and hit Penn State for their actions (and inactions). (AP photo)

Mark Emmert moved fast and hit Penn State for their actions (and inactions). (AP photo)

(See video blog with CineSports’ Noah Coslov below)

(Updated at 6:40 p.m. with comment from Penn State president that school accepted penalties to avoid death penalty)

Let’s start with this: NCAA president Mark Emmert acted swiftly and justly. That’s a rarity for the NCAA.

Emmert didn’t need a 17-month investigation by an overworked and underpaid staff to unearth something that we didn’t already learn from prosecutors and witnesses in the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse trial, or from the exhaustive, 267-page Freeh Report, conducted by a former director of the FBI. Anybody who believes Emmert moved too quickly on Penn State without the NCAA doing its own leg work must not having been paying attention for the past several decades, when policing college athletics became far too big of a job for that relative mom-and-pop organization.

The NCAA appropriately slammed Penn State Monday for its perceived enabling and cover-up of Sandusky. Emmert referenced an athletic culture “that went horribly awry” and a misguided “hero worship” that led to it. He didn’t bury the lead.

The penalties will double-over every blinded school official, player, fan, alum and misguided individual who hugged and tried to protect the Joe Paterno statute. The school was hit with a $60 million fine, equivalent to one year’s gross revenue for the football program (the money will fund an endowment that will fight child sexual abuse).

There’s also a four-year bowl ban; the loss of 40 scholarships over four years; the freedom for existing Penn State players to transfer to another school without having to sit out a year; the vacating of all victories since 1998, a symbolic punch to the gut for the memory of Joe Paterno. (The quarterback for Paterno’s last official win in 1997: Mike McQueary, whose eyewitness account of seeing Sandusky in the shower with a young boy was ignored years later.)

The sanctions will cripple the football program. But Emmert still fell short.

The NCAA, as I’ve written previously, should have gone one step further and shut the program down for one to two years. It would’ve been more than just a symbolic hit.

There is a need for a cultural change at Penn State, as Emmert himself said frequently Monday, and the “death penalty” would have increased the likelihood of that happening.  It would have prompted anybody who ever took part in a cover-up or ignored whispers about Sandusky to reflect during Saturdays in the fall when football wasn’t being played at Penn State. Beaver Stadium could have been used for weekly prayer vigils for the victims.

Penn State officials need time to process this. They need to consider where, when and why they jumped the rails on their mission. While there’s no question the NCAA’s punishment will make them feel the pain of their actions, nothing can equal the silence of an empty stadium, the absence of weekly pep rallies. No program in history deserves to be shuttered as much as the Penn State football team. We send criminals to jail. We don’t tell them, “OK, you can still go back to that bank that you robbed, but now you’ll have to take the bus, and just don’t do it again.” Penn State needed to lose its freedoms, its privileges.

For some reason, the NCAA apparently gave Penn State a choice. President Rodney Erickson told the Centre Daily Times the school accepted the sanctions to avoid the death penalty: “We had our backs to the wall on this. We did what we thought was necessary to save the program.”

Some believe the death penalty would have been a softer punishment than what Penn State received. I don’t get that. Has anybody seen SMU since the death penalty?

Emmert believes the death penalty would’ve caused “unintended harm” to those who were innocent in this mess. That’s true. Unfortunately, the innocent always get hurt in NCAA probation. New players and often new coaches are in place when sanctions hit for past misdeeds.

Those who believe Sandusky’s crimes didn’t warrant any sanctions because they did not give the school a competitive advantage are missing the big picture. Question: If Jerry Sandusky was a chemistry professor and not a former high profile football coach, do you believe he would’ve been protected? Of course not. Penn State’s actions and inactions were about preserving the competitiveness, image and profitability of the football program.

Even without the death penalty, however, it was encouraging to see Emmert take charge. The NCAA has needed somebody with logic and courage to run things. The hope is that this won’t be an isolated case, because the leaders of college athletics have long since lost perspective.

Emmert said the Penn State case “involves tragic and tragically unnecessary circumstances. One of the grave dangers coming from our love of sports is that the sports themselves can become too big to fail, too big to even challenge. The result can be an erosion of academic values that are replaced by hero worship and winning at all costs. In the Penn State case, the results were perverse and unconscionable.”

They were the perfect words to punctuate the punishment and begin the process of closure. Going one step further would have made it just a little better.

By Jeff Schultz

Here’s my chat with CineSports’ Noah Coslov on the NCAA’s sanctions against Penn State.
Yes, first you read me, now you can see me in living color!



525 comments Add your comment

VINCE

July 23rd, 2012
11:27 am

UGA should go after some of these players. Hope Richt hasnt promised scholarships to Billy Joe walk-on from Harira. What a joke

eaglenationrising

July 23rd, 2012
11:27 am

No college program can literally call Penn State players. These player have to go through the transfer process, which includes the player seeking transfers. They must be allowed to transfer. An institution can deny a transfer and most do within the conference. Big 10 programs (i.e. Wisconsin) have blocked up to 20 programs in the past. Georgia has to reach the players high school coaches who can then get the word to the players. Georgia can not speak to any player on the Penn State roster until they are “permitted” to speak to Georgia. My guess is Penn State will grant all transfers…even within the conference.

PLEASE GET TO WORK MARK RICHT!!! We need experienced offensive linemen, depth on defense and another RB.

rivercard

July 23rd, 2012
11:28 am

GTBOB – Absolutely correct.

Bob in Buford

July 23rd, 2012
11:29 am

This was not worse than the death penalty, that’s just a catch phrase for the media. I would have thought 15 scholarships over 4 years would have been better. I’m glad they gave current and incoming players a free pass out. This situation involved the entire school, the culture as Emmert put it. Vacating the wins were a nice cherry on top of the humble pie. However, this situation was worse than that at SMU. I don’t think we’ll ever see the death penalty again. Those people who said they couldn’t get penalty because games have already been scheduled are missing the point. Football is not the end all be all.

Mike

July 23rd, 2012
11:29 am

So here the final count if you combined what the NCAA and B1G did to them

73 mil total GONE(From NCAA and Big 10 Bowls)
Up to 40 schol gone
Cant go over 65 schol in four years (all sports), D-IAA cant go over 63 schol
5 years prob
4 years Bowl and B1G Champ Game Bowl
Immediate transfers for players to different place and dont have to sit a yaar

Death Penalty it is not but when you added on the lawsuit that PSU is going to get and they are going get hammered with that. This isnt a death penatly at all but its going to feel like one for PSU.

Heisenberg

July 23rd, 2012
11:29 am

Wonder what Bill O’Brien is thinking now? Hello Coach Belichek? Can I have my old job back?

Buckeye

July 23rd, 2012
11:29 am

You dogs crack me up inquiruing about any Penn State players coming to GA.

The Big 10 is slow, remember. You need somebody fast to have any chance against Clowney let alone Vanderbilt.

Tide Rising

July 23rd, 2012
11:29 am

“These kids gravitate to top programs.”

Then what makes you think Penn St. players would transfer to UGA?

Herschel Talker

July 23rd, 2012
11:30 am

Obama will blame George Bush for this.

Joey

July 23rd, 2012
11:31 am

Boy, in year 3 of these penalties, Penn St will have to field a team with as few scholarship players as UGA has for this season . . .

Well

July 23rd, 2012
11:32 am

“Jeff do you think Georgia will go after any of the players ?”

1: Why would UGA get any of those players?

2: Why would those players not transfer to other Big10 schools?

Tide Rising

July 23rd, 2012
11:32 am

This is weird. All the dawg fans can do is crow about getting some Penn St. players to possibly transfer to UGA. Dawg fans are like scavengers. Kinda sick.

Mike

July 23rd, 2012
11:33 am

edit, not all sports only football.

rivercard

July 23rd, 2012
11:33 am

If the NCAA now wants to open the morals and honesty door, maybe they ought to look at the way they have been exploiting college athletes for their own personal gain for all these years.

Well

July 23rd, 2012
11:33 am

Jeff,

PSU got hit with a 60 million dollar fine. That right there IS the death penalty on top of all the lawsuits that are beginning to pour in from kids who were raped by Sandusky. Penn State, as a University, may not survive this at all.

Hap Hines

July 23rd, 2012
11:34 am

Had Penn St. gotten the death penalty Shultz would be writing that it was too harsh. This idiot is so predictable. Sorta makes me miss Terence Moore’s racist ramblings.

Well

July 23rd, 2012
11:34 am

” Dawg fans are like scavengers. Kinda sick.”

Yeah, that’s exactly like like politicians who are calling for more gun control after a madman shot up a theater full of people.

Ray

July 23rd, 2012
11:35 am

LOL @ the fact NCAA thinks this is any kind of punishment okay okay looking at this step by step.

1. $60 mil fine on PSU that’s the equivalent of an NBA player paying $100,000 fine in my eyes. What makes it worse some rich donor/alums might pay that for them.

2. 4 year postseason ban okay I don’t agree with the length thought maybe more like 8 years would be better.

3. Scholarship reductions okay that’s cool, but again should be much worse.

4. Vacated wins from 1998-2011 this didn’t do anything to me in my eyes they may have changed it, but it still stands Joe Pa was still winningest coach in D1. Especially now that he’s dead.

For all it’s worth they could have done much better then this.

More like $600 mil fine, 8 year ban like I said earlier, football shut down for 2 years entirely, scholarship reduced to only a few, and 10 year probation.

Big Crimson 75

July 23rd, 2012
11:35 am

Bob — the NC2A is the governing/ruling body over 1200 Institutions including Penn St.
Yes, they had every right to hand down punishment against one of their member Institutions that broke the law.
No, I don’t think they wanted any of this to happen just so they could get some “head-lines” in the paper.

a country boy can survive

July 23rd, 2012
11:36 am

uga better reign in these rogue professors or they will be next..

Well

July 23rd, 2012
11:36 am

“exploiting college athletes for their own personal gain for all these years.”

How does one “exploit” college athletes?

It'sallaboutwins

July 23rd, 2012
11:36 am

You’ve got to bne amazed with the bulldog nation response. How can this benefit us. Can we get some of their players. Really sad.

Well

July 23rd, 2012
11:37 am

“$60 mil fine on PSU that’s the equivalent of an NBA player paying $100,000 fine in my eyes.”

No wonder the state of GA leads the nation in people who suck at math.

Tide Rising

July 23rd, 2012
11:38 am

Ray,

The vacated wins puts Bobby Bowden way ahead of Paterno so Bowden will now be the winningest coach in ncaa history at the D1 level.

Well

July 23rd, 2012
11:38 am

“More like $600 mil fine, 8 year ban like I said earlier, football shut down for 2 years entirely, scholarship reduced to only a few, and 10 year probation.”

That makes no sense.

Dawggirl

July 23rd, 2012
11:38 am

Looking at the bigger picture when considering the Death Penalty…if they’d completely shut down the football program, local businesses would’ve suffered even more than they will now. Gotta figure there will be a lot of lost ticket sales as a result of these sanctions, but at least the locals will have some business boost from football Saturdays…even if it’s the Penn State fans crying in their beers. With the economy where it is, every little bit helps.

Falls City Bulldawg

July 23rd, 2012
11:38 am

Right behind you, Jeff. For victims, you either shutter the program that empowered pedophilia or you don’t. Anything less is considered a slap on the wrist.

Well

July 23rd, 2012
11:39 am

I know a lot of people on this blog are not smart. What you goofballs don’t understand is that there are a lot of lawsuits headed PSU’s way via rape victims. That alone will most likely shut the school down in a few years. Enrollment will also go down due to this event.

Macon Mike

July 23rd, 2012
11:39 am

Why would a Penn State player transfer to UGA? A downward move..lateral move would be to Indiana…upward move to LSU, Bama, USC.

Well

July 23rd, 2012
11:40 am

“Why would a Penn State player transfer to UGA?”

red panties.

It'sallaboutwins

July 23rd, 2012
11:40 am

One has to be amazed at the bulldog nation response. How can we benefit from the mess at Penn State. Sa, really sad.

Tide Rising

July 23rd, 2012
11:40 am

“How does one “exploit” college athletes?”

By giving them a free education with free room and board, professional coaching, training, and nutrition to train for making millions at the next level, and by making them objects of adulation on college campuses so that they are exploited into having to date the hottest women on campus amongst other fringe benefits.

Heisenberg

July 23rd, 2012
11:40 am

So that would make Bobby Bowden the coach with the most wins all time. Probably not the way he would have wanted that distinction to be his, but there it is anyway.

RakkasanDawg

July 23rd, 2012
11:41 am

Jeff,
While I still struggle with the enormity of the sanctions, I take to task your argument of penalties against professors and such. Two case and points were the UGA professors, one who cross-dressed to illicit sex, and the other who tried to purchase sex. In either case neither offender was really sanctioned. In fact, one will be allowed to finish his tenure WITH full pay. Well you can argue that it is the result of a signed contract or union dealings, however you and I both know that it is bogus. More case and point the failing APS schools and cheating. While some administrators were fired, a good number are still employed and will never be touched.
In your field, do we fire journalist who make false comparisons i.e. ABC’s Brian Ross’s idiotic link of the Tea Party to the Aurora shooter or CNN’s link of Sarah Palin or Talk Radio to the Arizona shooter? No I think not. You journalists and your pontificating fall on deaf ears as you guys rarely self-sanction nor stick your neck out to call out miscreants within your profession.
I get the pile on. Penn State acted in a horrible way. After all these sancions, the NCAA might as well have given the institution the death penalty. You and I can agree to disagree on that point however falsely comparing sanctions against other public institutions and coaching is a stretch.

Well

July 23rd, 2012
11:41 am

“The vacated wins puts Bobby Bowden way ahead of Paterno so Bowden will now be the winningest coach in ncaa history at the D1 level.”

That is true.

DIT

July 23rd, 2012
11:41 am

“All the dawg fans can do is crow about getting some Penn St. players to possibly transfer to UGA. Dawg fans are like scavengers. Kinda sick.”

Please don’t put MOST of the UGA people under your “All” at the begining of your statement. If you don’t know the difference between a couple and “All” I suggest you go back to 1st grade!

Tide Rising

July 23rd, 2012
11:41 am

“One has to be amazed at the bulldog nation response. How can we benefit from the mess at Penn State. Sa, really sad.”

Like I said earlier. Its kinda sick.

South Ga Gold

July 23rd, 2012
11:41 am

I think the NCAA over reaches its boundries with this. If I were Penn State, I would appeal and bring about a law suit, following seeking a injuction. The NCAA is suppose to regulate atheletic programs to ensure a level playing field. This case or the cover up, has nothing to do with giving Penn State a unfair competitive advantage. So now that the NCAA is imposing sanction in criminal and civil cases then any coach, player, athletic program employee who is charged with a DUI, or sexual assualt, or whatever, now the NCAA can remove scholarships and sanction the school? Everyone wants something done, mostly because you dont know where to direct your anger, but this is not and should not be within the NCAA’s power. The sad part is Penn State probably wont fight it because they simply want all the bad press to go away and for the story to die. I cry foul. The NCAA is wrong in this case.

Well

July 23rd, 2012
11:42 am

Tide Rising

EXACTLY!!!!! I like your style even if I do hate your school. War Eagle/Roll Tide!

Dr. Welby will see you now

July 23rd, 2012
11:44 am

UGA fanbase already picking the bones from the corpse. If your sainted coach Richt were doing his job, you wouldn’t have to depend on the misfortune of others. Pathetic staff, pathetic fanbase.

OleBallCoach

July 23rd, 2012
11:45 am

Yep, UGA should go after the cream of the crop at PSU so those fellows can also follow the footsteps and careful guidance provided to Crowell, Ealey, King, to name a few.

So any of the PSU players that want to jump to UGA can plan on similar guidance and career path, lol.

scholarships?

July 23rd, 2012
11:45 am

Can someone explain the scholarships deduction. I keep hearing different numbers. Is PSU losing 20 scholarships per season? For some reason others keep saying 40 over year years.

GTBob

July 23rd, 2012
11:45 am

Yes, they had every right to hand down punishment against one of their member Institutions that broke the law.

I disagree completely. The NCAA is not the law, and Penn State did not violate any NCAA bylaws. What we basically learned today is that the NCAA can punish any athletic program at any time for anything they want. If Nick Saban runs a red light, the NCAA can punish Alabama for it. The punishment for breaking the law should not randomly from from an athletic association who is just making up penalties that they think will look good.

Tide Rising

July 23rd, 2012
11:45 am

DIT,

Maybe not all dawg fans. But sadly the first thing you see from not one but several dawg fans on here is “Can we get some of their recruits to transfer here”. Penn St. has just been kicked in the gut, their whole fan base and players are demoralized, and all several of the dawg posters on here can think about is scavenging their players.

rivercard

July 23rd, 2012
11:46 am

Well-
Start with this

“The conditions of the athletic scholarship and transfer rules, prohibitions against agents, limits on due process, failure to deliver on the promise to educate, the unobstructed selling of athlete images, and the like are tools of exploitation that benefit college sport leaders while oppressing those who perform on the field.”

Try a book titled “the Shame of College Sports” by Taylor Branch or a book by ex NCAA exec Walter Byers. You may not see it that way, but plenty of people do.

DIT

July 23rd, 2012
11:46 am

Tide Rising – again there are a couple… not all. However, I agree any of them that are more concerned about how to “benefit” from this situation are idiots. I know that most Dawgs don’t feel that way.

DP

July 23rd, 2012
11:47 am

Jeff, I believe Emmert’s comment would be “horribly awry” instead of “horribly array”, at least I hope so.

a country boy can survive

July 23rd, 2012
11:47 am

@South Ga Gold

they probably won’t go after uga’s rogue professors….but they should.

snellville jacket

July 23rd, 2012
11:48 am

Jeff I appreciate your comments, but is not the best way to get the attention is to close down all of the sports programs for a period of years. The administration runs the entire sports program and make it such a penalty that no one would ever forget.

waynester

July 23rd, 2012
11:48 am

It’s not enough. The penalty could never match the crime, but should be so harsh that it puts the “Fear of G-d” into every athletic program in the country and will be looked back on as a constant reminder of what happens when $$$ are placed above kids’ lives.
ps
Every other school in the country knew these Penn players would be transferring–it’s not just UGA fans that are looking greedily at the PS roster–the ‘Bama fan who posted earlier is being hypocritical as hell, considering how aggressive Saban is when it comes to player acquisition….