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

Well

July 23rd, 2012
11:48 am

rivercard

A lot of athletes go on to lucrative careers in either pro sports, management or something else. It’s a two-way street and ALL of these athletes are grown ups who can either choose to play or not to play. When you turn 18 years old you’re an adult.

End of story.

Frank Lane

July 23rd, 2012
11:49 am

We should be in Happy Valley now talking to offensive linemen.

George Stein

July 23rd, 2012
11:50 am

Please. Who is being punished here, and what did he/she/they do wrong?

This article and the punishment are insults to my intelligence. They are essentially punishing child rape with scholarship reductions. All this culture change crap is absolute nonsense. Cultures will change when people stop turning on the tv, showing up at stadiums, and networks stop writing multi-billion dollar checks. Until then, the culture will remain the same.

rivercard

July 23rd, 2012
11:50 am

Tide Rising
“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.”

When your talking billions of dollars that equates to paying you minimum wage to perform heart surgery.

Tide Rising

July 23rd, 2012
11:50 am

“What we basically learned today is that the NCAA can punish any athletic program at any time for anything they want”

Nope. We learned a long time ago that the NCAA is a corrupt organization that sets out arbitrary and capricious judgements and punishments. In our case and in the case of Miss. State they had an investigator that was proven by court documents to manufacture evidence. And while folks think Jerry Tarkanian was a bad guy what they don’t realize is that Tark successfully sued the NCAA for millions and won big time. This is an organization that in their zeal to get Tark they threatened a transfered Sudanese player that if he didn’t go along with manufactured evidence that they would deport him and his family back to war torn Sudan where they would likely be killed. That’s how nasty and despicable the NCAA is. Not saying Penn St. didn’t deserve severe punishment. I’m just saying that the folks handing down the punishment aren’t exactly clean themselves. The NCAA is not an organization that would stand up to congressional nor public scrutiny.

DIT

July 23rd, 2012
11:51 am

George Stein – Great Post!

rivercard

July 23rd, 2012
11:52 am

Well,

If they could go directly to NFL from high school I might give your point more credence.

George Stein

July 23rd, 2012
11:54 am

Thanks, DIT.

alpha male

July 23rd, 2012
11:54 am

50 arrests in 4 years. Maybe Mr. Emmert should take a trip down to Butts-Mehre and hand out some penalties to the SEC’s most out of control program.

Big Crimson 75

July 23rd, 2012
11:55 am

Well — the idea that College Athletes, in particular Football or Basketball Players, are being “exploited” is 100% BS.
I don’t care how much money some liberal goon throws around in terms of how much $$ the University’s make “off” these players.
They get a free education(which btw, is better than 50% of the population), free meals, free housing……plus important development if in fact a Pro sports career is their future.
Take Rueben Foster(y’all already have!!) as an example — the guy has a 3 yr old daughter, he comes from nothing, football is the only chance he has to get an education & how He plays in College will determine his draft status in the NFL. The opportunity given to him to attend a university & play football is enough of a reward. College Athletes should not get paid & they are not being exploited.

Mike

July 23rd, 2012
11:55 am

But Jeff, I was think that this isnt over by a long shot besides NCAA and B1G throw down punishment, then there is a little matter called Department of Education and then there is the AAU as well, I dont think that they will be keeping that status. Its going to be dark days for PSU.

rivercard

July 23rd, 2012
11:56 am

Alpha Male-

Seems to me this type of overstepping of jurisdiction opens up those type of possibilities.

Well

July 23rd, 2012
11:57 am

“If they could go directly to NFL from high school I might give your point more credence.”

A lot of them get a free education. That alone is a nice tradeoff.

Tide Rising

July 23rd, 2012
11:57 am

rivercard,

The players get a fair share. What do you want? Do you basically just want to make them pro players and pay them? And how would you pay them. Do all the players get paid the same- the 4th teamer the same as a Trent Richardson? And how much? Kinda hard to tell a kid working part time or full time at McDonalds while going to school that not only does a football player get all his stuff paid for but also makes money playing ball but this kid has to work to pay for his school.

And do the players pay anything for all the professional instruction that they receive? The modern nutrition plans, the state of the art training facilities and team doctors? The free TV publicity via ESPN highlights? The massive stadium and its upkeep? How much is that PR worth from TV? How about that coaching instruction. If the players went off on their own could they afford to hire Nick Saban plus a position coach plus a strength coach to give them personalized training for the next level? How much is that worth? Add it all up and they get lots of benefits.

alpha male

July 23rd, 2012
11:58 am

In the case of UGA, it would be justified. Outlaw programs need to be reigned in from outside if the institution fails to do so itself.

Well

July 23rd, 2012
11:59 am

Big Crimson 75

I 100% agree with you. I’ve never thought that athletes were exploited in any ways. How many kids has football/baseball/basketball turned poor kids into rich kids?

Answer: A LOT.

Jefferson Davis Hogg

July 23rd, 2012
11:59 am

@ GTBob…..I think the NCAA has every right to step in here..The cover up was for the purpose of protecting their precious fooball program of which the NCAA oversee’s. …Also there is a term that they use called ” lack of institutional control”….Thats the big one and its obvious from top to bottom there was lack thereof

Well

July 23rd, 2012
12:00 pm

The one thing I’ll never understand is how a kid gets a full ride to a major university and then throws it all away due to stupid actions.

gomdawg

July 23rd, 2012
12:02 pm

Ok I was one that suggested that we check in to some of the player fro Penn St. First some of these players will be leaving , second we do have scholarships open and last any of you that don’t like that can kiss my azzz.

rivercard

July 23rd, 2012
12:03 pm

Tide,

If they would let players have a choice of going to NFL at any time I could be swayed to your view.

Although I still think players should be compensated for anything sold using their name or image.

Well

July 23rd, 2012
12:05 pm

“Although I still think players should be compensated for anything sold using their name or image.

Why?

Stinger2

July 23rd, 2012
12:06 pm

Some of the reactions here are not realizing the fact that the actual guilty
parties to this tradgedy have been (Sandusky) or will be punished by the law and spend many years in jail. For this reason, the NCAA action was harsh enough from that Body. In addition Penn State will be punished for years to come in other ways that we con`t know about yet.

alpha male

July 23rd, 2012
12:06 pm

This is a second chance for the players at Penn State to get it right. Don’t magnify their first mistake (going to PSU) by bringing them into an anything goes program like UGA.

Tide Rising

July 23rd, 2012
12:07 pm

rivercard,

Just think about the personalized instruction of the coaching staff, the team doctors, the facilities the players have to train, etc. But to make the math easy lets look at the professional coaching instruction that these players benefit from.

Let’s take Bama for example. Take Nick Saban’s 4 million dollar salary plus Kirby Smart’s salary plus all the other assistants. Without adding it up I’m thinking the total salaries are probably around 8 million. Divided by 85 scholly players that comes out to $94,000 worth of free instruction per year per player that they don’t have to pay for. And that’s coaching alone and not including all the other benefits of the program not to mention the free education, room and board, etc. Add in all the tangible benefits and you’re probably looking at a minumum of $150,000 worth of economic benefit that each player is getting per year when you add in the rest of the staff, the facilities, medical care, room and board, education, etc. And as I said that doesn’t even include the PR benefit and television exposure of playing for a big time collegiate athletic program. How much would it cost if you’re a premier player and you had to pay on your own for the television exposure that ESPN highlight reels give you for the next level? You can’t even calculate that its so high.

GTBob

July 23rd, 2012
12:08 pm

Also there is a term that they use called ” lack of institutional control”….Thats the big one and its obvious from top to bottom there was lack thereof

That is the big joke in this. The lack of institutional control clause basically gives the NCAA free reign on anything they feel like. Anything can fit in that clause. Would you be ok with it if the NCAA gave UGA the death penalty for their recent discipline problems? Would that not fit into lack of institutional control? The NCAA should have well defined bylaws that schools adhere to. They shouldn’t be able to give any random punishment they feel like for anything they feel deserves it. Any organization that makes up rules as they go is a bit of a joke.

Baddabing

July 23rd, 2012
12:12 pm

The Death Penalty would have been cleaner and more appropriate but I understand the NCAA’s thoughts about all the little people who would have been affected. The grounds people, vendors, staffs who had nothing to do with this will take a hit but hopefully most will have jobs. The wounds of this story will take a long time to heal and every game that is played there will have a pall on it. If it serves to remind not only colleges with big league athletic programs but everyone about the tragedy of child abuse and doing the right thing then some good will come of it.

alpha male

July 23rd, 2012
12:12 pm

Would you be ok with it if the NCAA gave UGA the death penalty for their recent discipline problems?

why not? It’s a public safety issue.

BobDawg

July 23rd, 2012
12:12 pm

GTBOB, I like the fact that the NCAA “nudged” PSU after they would do it themselves… As Christine Brennan said, they are living in the Bronze Age…. It also tells schools that live in the Bronze Age that those statues can come down pretty quickly if programs go awry…..

Tide Rising

July 23rd, 2012
12:12 pm

“Although I still think players should be compensated for anything sold using their name or image.”

Premiere players are compensated. Its called media exposure and it ratchets up their marketability to the pro level. You and I cannot even measure how much their pro draft potential goes up every time ESPN or CSS or someone shows them in a highlight reel. Do you have any idea how valuable that exposure is and how expensive it would be to get it on your own? By virtue of playing for that school in those big time games they get that exposure. Lots of it. And not just television but print media and electronic media such as the internet. Its dang near priceless.

Tumbledown

July 23rd, 2012
12:13 pm

Children were cruelly victimized. Powerful people sacrificed human decency all for the football program. Countless moral and legal crimes were committed. Yet, all a few care about is how the Penn St. sutuation can benefit Bulldogs football. Have we learned nothing? It is not about football, people. It is about human decency, respect, and always doing the right thing even when it is difficult.

5150 UOAD

July 23rd, 2012
12:13 pm

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.
========================================

The Commish said Football cannot be ahead of Education!
Hahahha
Emmert and the NCAA then needs to make ALL schools have the SAME entrance Policy. the same Drug testing Policy. the SAME penalties for rules Violations.
The NCAA just PROVED that they are a JOKE once again.
The MURDER at Baylor and attempted cover up was over looked by the NCAA.

puntthemarxist

July 23rd, 2012
12:13 pm

Well–you feel Sorry for psu fans for this “tragedy”? Pay no mind to the kids who were raped. That’s where your feelings of sorrow should go.

BobDawg

July 23rd, 2012
12:13 pm

.. Meant “not do it themselves”….

pfffft

July 23rd, 2012
12:13 pm

so we are going to punish the football program when it was university administrators who covered things up? why isn’t every program at penn state being punished? are we forgetting that pedophile was an “ex” coach when he was discovered to be molesting young boys? we want to crucify joe pa but we give the asst coach who saw him having sex with a kid and left the locker room, doing nothing to help the kid, a free pass along with applauding his actions of telling the head coach the next day? then to top it off almost everyone here is thinking great we can steal some of their players. players from a team that supposedly fostered a atmosphere of child molestation? really folks pick a side of the fence and stick with it. they are punishing a football program that had nothing to do with it, and letting the real perpetrators (the entire administration) off the hook. plus UGA fans want to benefit from their misfortune. you tell me who the real offenders of putting their football team above the safety of children are?

Ted Striker

July 23rd, 2012
12:14 pm

I was molested as a juvenile. So I have perspective on this topic and well…sometimes perspective stinks. You can’t unring a bell once it’s been dropped on your head. It literally is, what it is.

That said, I don’t see myself as a living “victim.”

I picture myself as a man who is a better person, a more humble individual, and more of a PROTECTOR of those who maybe can’t protect themselves. I’m in tune to look out for others and well, that’s sorta cool. It rocks.

I’m a better man for whatever scars I have. My personal hell made me more tender and accepting and understanding of others who have suffered and influenced me to change the world, as I can, for the better.

Re: NCAA decision.

The penalties are steep and appropriate. Would I have been surprised to see the program shuttered? I’d not have raised objections however I think the NCAA nailed this decision.

I don’t care about an empty stadium. The hell with symbolism.

Caveat: If a single victim said shutter the stadium and don’t play a down of football in 2012…do it. Do not let it happen. I hope the NCAA consulted them.

However otherwise here is what I care about.

I care about the hotel employees (people with families and bills making $8 an hour) who would suffer if there no games. I care about the servers at the cafes who wouldn’t get their tips and extra shifts if there were no game day the next day. I care about the business owner who maybe sells an extra t-shirt in his shop when his rent isn’t going down whether there is football game or not. I care about the people.

Screw Sandusky. (And he will probably get it in prison). Screw the officials that covered up. (And they will do their walks of shame in court and in the grocery stores).

However the NCAA got this right. They didn’t kill Penn State. Penn State will bounce back. It’ll be a while but they’ll bounce back. How long has it been since the Reggie Bush sanctions? Where is USC ranked this season?

Macon Mike

July 23rd, 2012
12:15 pm

hey tide rising, your arguement is a bit too complex for these UGA fans. Think you could come up with a Sesame Street or Blues Clues analogy?

SameOld

July 23rd, 2012
12:17 pm

NCAA going nuts on this one. I’ve never liked Penn State nor JoePa, but this just seems like overkill to me. What are the NCAA rules that are being used as the authority for this penalty? Where was any due process? How in the world does this kind of punishment impact Sandusky, a dead JoePa, and already fired university administrators? What role did any former, current, or future player have in this? How do you vacate wins for something that did not, in anyone’s wildest dreams, give PSU a competitive advantage?
YES, it was an AWFUL TERRIBLE OUTRAGEOUS series of events, and Sandusky deserves to sit in jail for the rest of his life, and the University, top administrators, and JoePa all deserve quite a black eye and to lose jobs, but these NCAA sanctions????? Totally nuts and void of real logic.

Tide Rising

July 23rd, 2012
12:18 pm

I gotta get out of here. Been an interesting discussion. One thing I would like to see that’s been written about very little is what kind of punishment the 3 men left who covered up for the molester are going to get? Seems to me these guys need some serious come uppance.

gdawginkalamazoo

July 23rd, 2012
12:19 pm

The NCAA took Penn State to the showers….

rivercard

July 23rd, 2012
12:19 pm

Well,

“Why?”

Same reason Nike pays Jordan to put his name on their shoes. It adds value to their product.

Read up on Ed O’Bannon for a good example of how this is abused. What do you think the return on investment has been for Georgia/NCAA on Herschel Walker? He didn’t need Georgia or NCAA. If allowed he could have gone straight to the pros(imho)

I get your point of view. I just don’t agree.

Athletic Supporter

July 23rd, 2012
12:20 pm

There are plenty of people involved with the football program that knew absolutely NOTHING about what was going on. It is apparently OK with you that they are guilty with no opportunity to prove their innocence. The NCAA has just created a whole new group of innocent victims while those who profitted will still suffer little for their crimes as accessories after the fact.

I hope for justice’s sake you never sit on a jury. You have a warped perspective on justice.

GT4EVER

July 23rd, 2012
12:21 pm

Tide Rising that is some BS.The Big 10 and SEC both made over 1 billion dollars http://businessofcollegesports.com/2012/07/20/sec-and-big-ten-schools-post-revenue-of-over-1-billion/
The football team brings in a lot of money,players are expected to go to class and get a degree just like regular students,but in their off time they are bringing in millions of dollars for the school by playing football.With the amount of cash being made off of football,you would think it prudent that the schools provide the kids with some quality training,facilities etc.The better product you put on the field,the more you win=more money you make.Most of these kids are not going to play pro ball, and by recent numbers almost half of them will never finish school.The football teams are still going to rake in millions every year regardless.The kids are being pimped by the schools

Dr. Phil

July 23rd, 2012
12:21 pm

Penn State did not gain an advantage on the field by covering up Sandusky’s behavior. All of the administrators who participated in the coverup should be fired and prosecuted. No minimum-wage custodian anywhere would stand up to a “legend” like Joe Paterno, so I find it hard to criticize them. They would have been fired and not have the resources to hire an attorney or the years involved in getting a settlement. The NCAA should ban rogue coaches in the way Judge Landis banned Shoeless Joe and his teammates. Too many successful cheaters just fly to another program. College presidents are the head of this snake, and too many foxes are watching the chickens.

WDE

July 23rd, 2012
12:24 pm

I think the 60 million is only half as effective in this form as it would have been with a one or two year “death penalty” the reason is Penn St will make most of that back this year from the very program being sanctioned..or am I missing something?

Old Dawg

July 23rd, 2012
12:25 pm

If ever a school deserved the Death Penalty does. I know many folks, including the NCAA, didn’t want to impact the local economy with the punishment. Local businesses thrive on game day attendance.

Yes, local businesses would have been hurt. Still, it’s nothing like the life-long struggles of the victims and their families. And, lest we forget, many of those business owners were upset that Paterno was fired last year, voicing their displeasure during campus protests and in front of the coach’s home.

Sorry, the pain and suffering of these victims won’t go away by eating Jo Pa’s ice cream!

SameOld

July 23rd, 2012
12:26 pm

“If Jerry Sandusky was a chemistry professor and not a former high profile football, do you believe he would’ve been protected?”

If Jerry Sandusky was a chemistry professor and his chairperson had been covering up for him, Jerry and the chairperson would have been fired, Jerry would go to jail, and the chairperson could possibly be prosecuted. The university may have been open to various civil suits, etc., but would they have shut down the chemistry department? punished former, current and future chemistry students? fired or limited the activities of other chemistry professors that had nothing to do with it?

Jax Dawg

July 23rd, 2012
12:26 pm

Where does UGA need experience??? O-Line is #1 first and foremost.RB would also be nice.

FB Wonk

July 23rd, 2012
12:26 pm

Jeff: If you look back at Mark Emmert’s resume, you’ll see he was Chancellor at LSU when Gerry DiNardo was fired and Nick Saban hired. When asked about Mark Emmert’s support for his plans to upgrade LSU’s program, Saban said, “he never disappointed me.” Emmert was a significant part of the culture of “tail wagging dog.” that exists at many institutions of higher learning. Given that background, you should appreciate why PSU will not suffer death, with ressurection in a couple of years. Never mind the fact it would have skewed the average time for resurrection more than SMU.

GT4EVER

July 23rd, 2012
12:27 pm

The kids on PSU’s team were between 5 and 8 years old when Sundusky retired.The janitor and every other adult that had knowledge of this situation should go to jail.

Taxi Smith

July 23rd, 2012
12:27 pm

I agree; they should have shuit them down for a year, maybe two. What that school administration did was not only stupid, it was criminal. I hope the past president and AD also end up in jail. As for JoPa? He was the main actor in this mess; let him rot.