Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

July 23, 2012

NCAA slaps Penn State with sanctions

Bart Doan

INDIANAPOLIS — For one hour Monday morning, the NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis was the center of the American news world as NCAA President Mark Emmert released details of the long anticipated sanctions to be levied on Penn State University following a sexual abuse scandal and subsequent cover-up that he said “has provoked in all of us, deeply powerful emotions and shaken our most fundamental confidence in many ways.”

Penn State will be fined $60 million that will be used to establish an endowment to support programs around the nation that serve victims of sexual abuse and seek to prevent such abuse from happening. Emmert said the figure was one year’s gross revenue for the football team. The Big 10 then chose to fine Penn State an additional $13 million, which is near what they would make from postseason revenue over the next four years.

Penn State’s football program will also be banned from bowl games or participation in any sort of post season play for four years, and will see a scholarship reduction from 25 to 15 for that same time period. The football program’s maximum amount of scholarships allowed will drop to 65.

Furthermore, PSU football student-athletes will be allowed to transfer immediately and compete at other universities. Typically, there is a period where transfers must sit out a year as part of transfer rules, but that will be waived.

Penn State will also vacate all of its football wins from 1998 to 2011, which amounts to 112 victories.

Lastly, Emmert noted that there will be an academic integrity monitor for the next five years who will report quarterly to the NCAA, the Penn State Board of Trustees, and the Big 10 Conference with regard to the progress the university is making in implementing the provisions of the agreement.

“We concluded that the sanctions needed to reflect our goals of driving cultural change as much as driving punitive actions,” Emmert said. “Suspensions of the football program would bring unintended harm to many who had nothing to do with this case. The sanctions we had crafted are more focused and impactful than that blanket penalty.”

The overwhelming message sent by Emmert during the press conference was one of cultural change and the role of athletics in society, and specifically how that needs to be monitored.

“For the next several years, Penn State can now focus on the work of rebuilding its athletic culture, not worry about whether or not it’s going to a bowl game,” he said. “We hope and we intend to ensure that will be the case. One of the grave dangers stemming from our love of sports is that it can become too big to fail, indeed too big to be even challenged. The result can be an erosion of academic values that are being replaced by the value of hero worship and winning at all costs. In the Penn State case, the results were perverse and unconscionable and there is no price the NCAA can levy to repair the grievous damage inflicted by Jerry Sandusky on his victims, however we can make clear that the culture, actions, and inaction that allowed them to be victimized will not be tolerated by intercollegiate athletics.”

Ed Ray, chairman of the NCAA executive committee and president of Oregon State University, also spoke at the press conference.

“The presidents and chancellors said they’ve had enough,” Ray said. “This has to stop. The cautionary tale here is that every major college and university needs to do a gut check and ask where we are on the appropriate balance on athletics and the broader culture of the university, and make certain that they’ve got the balance right and if not, that they take corrective action.”

Emmert and Ray both lauded current Penn State officials on their compliance during the investigation.

“I want to point out if the culture had been as open, transparent, forthcoming, collaborative, cooperative as Rod Erickson and the board of trustees at Penn State have been over the last year, we wouldn’t be having this conversation,” Ray said.

Emmert added, “The entirety of the situation was examined. All the facts were on the table. I don’t think there was an element of this case that we didn’t explore exhaustively. That the NCAA needed to act in this case was never seriously debated. Everyone understood that this case strikes at the very heart of what intercollegiate athletics is about, and there’s been a lot of speculation whether this fits this specific bylaw, or that specific bylaw. It certainly fits the fundamental notions of what athletics are supposed to be doing in the context of higher education.”

The next step will be a 10-week period where Penn State will work with the NCAA and the Big 10 to develop an integrity agreement that will provide a “road map” as Emmert called it, for changing the culture inside athletics and to insure institutional control.

“As that agreement is developed, we will then appoint — at the university’s expense — an external monitor, someone who is not part of the NCAA or part of the university, an independent third party with staff support to monitor the progress of the university on each step of that road map, report back to us, to the trustees of Penn State, and to the Big 10 conference office,” Emmert said.

He added that should that road map fail to be followed, the NCAA reserves the right to take other corrective action. He noted that action on individuals, including coaches who may want to continue coaching elsewhere, will not be taken until after criminal investigations have been completed.

“Our goal is not to just be punitive, but to make sure the university establishes a culture and mindset that football will never again be placed ahead of educating, nurturing, and protecting young people,” he said.

He added that the reduction of scholarships and the added expenses for Penn State must not come at the expense of non revenue sports, nor the academic side of the enterprise.

Classes begin at Penn State University on Aug. 27.