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Old 07-22-2012, 09:45 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Two articles, regards to slippery slope the NCAA may be getting ready to walk

I thought these were fairly good articles and - while lengthy - suggest others read them both.

First off, a blog article from MrSEC.com:

MRSEC - The NCAA Is About To Make A Big Mistake With Penn State

NCAA president Mark Emmert is about to walk down a very slippery slope.* The news that the NCAA will announce sanctions against Penn State’s football program for criminal behavior carried out years ago by men who are no longer in power at the university is a colossal blunder that college sports’ governing body will someday come to regret.

According to reports, the sanctions to be handed down Monday will likely be more damaging than even a one-year death penalty would have been.* Crowds of Americans will cheer because we all love punishment.

But this is 100% the wrong move by a governing body that so often makes the wrong move.

Emmert and the NCAA know that PSU is being annihilated in the court of public opinion.* Don’t think that the NCAA’s decision to pile on Penn State doesn’t have something to do with a feeling that the body can actually make people applaud it for once.* Quite simply, they’ve read the poll numbers and decided to do what everyone wants — punish somebody.* Anybody.* Even coaches, athletic staff and players who had absolutely nothing to do with the Jerry Sandusky situation.

(Sidenote — Anyone else find it odd that we as a people always want some other person punished for their misdeeds, but when we ourselves err, we beg for forgiveness?* What a flawed beast we are.)

In addition to penalizing the innocent, the NCAA is also penalizing those who have already been penalized.* Think Penn State grads like having their diplomas on the wall today?* Think the school, the administration and the faculty haven’t been shamed already?* Think donations and applications haven’t been impacted?* Think the football program — which is going through its first coaching change since 1966 — isn’t finding work harder on the recruiting trail?

What more punishment is needed?* Joe Paterno is dead.* Sandusky will die in prison.* Others in PSU’s administration have lost their jobs, been vilified in the press, and may find themselves subject to legal prosecution.* Hell, all that’s left is to burn the campus down because bad things happened there at one time.

Making matters worse, the NCAA is apparently nixing its usual methods for punishing schools.* There will be no letter of allegations in this case.* There will be no waiting period for Penn State to prepare a defense.* Penn State won’t even be allowed a defense.* The NCAA is expected to act without due process.* They are taking the Freeh Report as gospel and will use it as their “Witches Hammer.”

Well, that’s smart.* A rush to judgement is always a good thing.* Especially in cases like this that will impact hundreds of lives for years to come.* Anyone else out there realize that if another legal team had been given the exact same records from Penn State they might have come to completely different conclusions than Louis Freeh and his team?

But here’s how the NCAA is putting itself in a precarious position.* Emmert and crew are going to penalize a school for criminal/moral failings.* Sounds good.* Until you ask where that line gets drawn.

A former NCAA committee on infractions chairperson told ESPN:


“This is unique and this kind of power has never been tested or tried.* It’s unprecedented to have this extensive power. This has nothing to do with the purpose of the infractions process. Nevertheless, somehow (the NCAA president and executive board) have taken it on themselves to be a commissioner and to penalize a school for improper conduct…

But this has nothing to do with NCAA business.* This is new.* If they’re going to deal with situations of this kind that have nothing to do with the games of who plays and so on and rather deal with members of the athletic department who act immorally or criminally then it opens up the door to other cases…

The criminal courts are perfectly capable of handling these situations.* This is a new phase and a new thing. They are getting into bad behavior that are somehow connected to those who work in the athletic department.”


What if Sandusky had been running a Ponzi scheme out of his Penn State office of years, for example?* Let’s say he’d bilked thousands of people out of millions of dollars.* Ruined countless lives in the process.* Now let’s suppose Penn State officials had known/suspected what was up and looked the other way.* Would the NCAA rush in to smash the football program?

Now let’s bring it a little closer to home.* Let’s say your alma mater or favorite football or basketball program had an assistant coach on staff who battered women.* Folks in the athletic office knew about it.* They’d heard rumors that the women in the coach’s life often carried bruises and cuts.* But the school didn’t act until a woman was hospitalized.* Should the NCAA come in and punish your favorite program?

What if a woman were killed?

What if your school kept covering up for a serial drunk-driving coach right up until the day he ran someone down?

Where is the line to be drawn?* And do you trust the people in the NCAA office to be the ones drawing it?

I know that many people will view this post as a defense of Penn State.* It’s not.* If you claim that’s what it is then you either a) didn’t read this piece in full or b) you wanted to change the facts to suit your own argument.

In this writer’s view — put simply — PSU has already gotten what it deserved… a terrible stain on its reputation.* How many times can the same people be burned at the stake?

Some of you may like that the NCAA is blasting Penn State’s program.* But if the NCAA were about to crush your favorite program for the exact same acts, here’s betting the vast, vast majority of you would be saying that the problem isn’t a sports issue but a legal one and that the NCAA shouldn’t be getting involved.

Again, when someone else screws up, we want blood.* When we ourselves screw up, we want mercy.

In this case, Penn State screwed up.* And the NCAA’s going to give us blood.* But what about the next time a school has criminal or immoral behavior on its campus?* Will the NCAA get involved?* And will you be in favor of it?

This is as dumb a move as could possibly be made.* It will come back to bite the NCAA squarely in its rear in the future.* In fact, this one action may well become Emmert’s legacy.* That’s how big, unusual, and reactionary this move is.

God help them.


(And to all the many radio hosts who’ve argued with me over the past few weeks saying that the NCAA would not act even though public opinion would call for it to do so… told ya so.)

Last edited by TrueOrange; 07-22-2012 at 09:54 PM..
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Old 07-22-2012, 09:49 PM   #2 (permalink)
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The second is a piece from SI writer, Andy Staples

NCAA puts power in question with rapid decision*regarding Penn State - Andy Staples - SI.com

When I write about the NCAA, I usually include a disclaimer for those unfamiliar with how the organization works.

"Believe it or not, the NCAA is not some cabal of five or six shadowy figures sitting in Indianapolis trying to conceive of ever more devious schemes to get rich off the backs of 20-year-old athletes," I wrote in 2010. "It truly is an organization run by its members, and there are hundreds of members."

"It's too easy to paint the NCAA as a bureaucratic boogeyman run by five or six Illuminati who sit in Indianapolis and dream up new ways to oppress athletes," I wrote in 2011. "That simply isn't the case. The people who work at the NCAA national office don't make the rules, and most are good, hardworking people who truly do care about the athletes. The NCAA is a representative democracy. The schools make the rules."

NCAA president Mark Emmert may prove me wrong.

On Monday at 9 a.m., Emmert and Oregon State president Ed Ray, the NCAA executive committee chair, will announce how the NCAA intends to penalize Penn State's football program for the cover-up that allowed former Nittany Lions defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky to continue raping children. The details of the penalties remain a mystery, so speculating on them here would be foolish. We know Penn State planned to suggest its own sanctions, so it is reasonable to surmise the school was consulted. Still, it is pertinent to discuss how the NCAA arrived at these penalties.

Whenever an NCAA issue arises, its public relations staff is quick to point out -- correctly -- that the NCAA is a representative democracy that does the will of its members. The organization's rules and enforcement procedures were discussed and voted upon by the leaders of the schools those rules and procedures affect. Those procedures have made the NCAA's justice system quite slow. Ask any USC football fan who waited years to learn how Reggie Bush's acceptance of money from two wannabe agents would ultimately affect the Trojans' football program.

Yet here we sit less than nine months from the release of the grand jury presentment that set this scandal into motion. We're less than two weeks from the release of former FBI director Louis Freeh's report that concluded former Penn State president Graham Spanier, former football coach Joe Paterno, former athletic director Tim Curley and former vice president Gary Schultz conspired for years to cover up an accusation that Sandusky had raped a boy in a shower in the Penn State football building in 2001. In this case, absolute power corrupted absolutely. That is plain to see. But it was pretty plain that Bush had taken money and that North Carolina's football program was rife with issues in 2010. Yet those cases took far longer and followed NCAA procedure. Penn State, in the parlance of the courthouse, is on a rocket docket.

Did Emmert pull a page from the dictator's playbook and ask for sweeping executive powers in the face of a crisis for which the democratically run organization had not planned? Is that why the NCAA's Board of Directors granted him the power to punish Penn State? I emailed the NCAA's chief spokespeople to find out how the penalty decision was made, but as of this writing, they have not responded. What we do know is that the NCAA did not follow its usual process in this case, and that should give pause to everyone in college athletics.

The NCAA's enforcement arm came into existence after the 1951 convention, when member schools repealed the divisive, five-year-old Sanity Code and replaced it with a more tolerable set of rules and regulations. The Sanity Code was the NCAA's first attempt to regulate behavior, but it failed in part because the only penalty was expulsion from the NCAA. After its repeal, schools worked to devise an enforcement strategy that afforded schools a process that didn't entirely mimic the judicial system but came somewhat close. The first major program hammered by the NCAA's enforcement arm was Kentucky's basketball team, which was banned for the 1952-53 season after an investigation into a point-shaving scandal in the late '40s. But, like all the cases after it, it followed the procedures designed by the schools themselves.

Make no mistake, the Penn State case places the NCAA in a nearly impossible position. While there is no evidence anyone at Penn State broke any actual NCAA rules -- which mostly govern amateurism, competitive equity and academic integrity -- this could be the worst scandal to hit major college sports. How can the NCAA ever punish another program for paying players, fixing grades or practicing too much if it doesn't punish Penn State? On the other hand, there are no procedures in place to punish a program for violations of state statute. If Penn State gets punished in this case, why hasn't the NCAA punished any other programs because someone broke the law?

Emmert and the NCAA cannot win here. If they suspend Penn State's football program for any length of time, they'll punish hundreds who had nothing to do with the cover-up. If they take away scholarships, they'll get ripped for not being harsh enough. The math will get ugly. (Example: If the NCAA were to strip Penn State of 50 scholarships, it will essentially be saying that USC's Bush taking money from an agent is three-fifths as bad as covering for a child rapist.) The most logical penalty would be a massive financial sanction or a lengthy postseason ban (5-10 years) with no other sanctions. The latter would effectively cripple the program -- elite players wouldn't want to go to Penn State -- while still allowing current players to play their sport and earn Penn State degrees if they so desire. It also would avoid punishing Penn State's other programs as well as the other football programs in the Big Ten, which might have suffered financially from a canceled season or a television ban.

No matter the penalty, it's important to ask why the NCAA would bypass its normal disciplinary process. Throughout his brief tenure, Emmert has made a habit of licking his finger and checking the wind before doing anything meaningful. The wind certainly blows in favor of harsh sanctions for Penn State. Does that justify Emmert increasing the power of the NCAA's executive branch at the expense of the democratic system the NCAA has used for decades? Maybe. He does take the lion's share of the abuse, even though NCAA rules -- to this point -- have allowed him precious little actual power. Power grabs usually happen during emergencies, and Emmert has one on his hands now. Also, Emmert has used this line of thinking to his benefit before.
In August 2011, a panel of 54 university presidents -- personally selected by Emmert -- assembled in Indianapolis for a two-day retreat. Fed up with scandals that had overwhelmed college sports, they resolved to take action. So, in rapid fashion, they pushed forward a number of dramatic reforms. These included raising the graduation-rate standards to be eligible for postseason play, rewriting the NCAA rulebook, revamping the NCAA penalty process, allowing schools to offer multiyear athletic scholarships and allowing schools to give up to a $2,000 stipend to help move scholarships toward the actual cost of attendance.

The lead quote the NCAA used in its news release from the event is quite telling.

"What stands out, above everything else, is the unanimity of thinking among university presidents who were assembled," a president said. "There is an unwavering determination to change a number of things about intercollegiate athletics today. Presidents are fed up with the rule breaking that is out there."

Which president said those words? Spanier, who, at the time, knew he was allowing an accused child rapist on his campus.

While the presidents hand-picked by Emmert may have been unanimous, the presidents who didn't get invited and many of their athletics staffs disagreed with some of the measures. (For the record, I agreed with all of them and praised their passage.) Fortunately for those who dissented, the rules still had to run through the NCAA's legislative process, so those who disagreed with the multiyear scholarship proposal (which ultimately passed) and those who disagreed with the stipend proposal (which ultimately failed) had their say.

Still, the speed of the process made some in the business uncomfortable. In March, an athletic director at a power conference school told me it concerned him that one man could push his agenda so forcefully. That athletic director wasn't alone. The override votes on the multiyear scholarship and stipend plans told us that.

This is obviously a different situation, but the upshot is the same. The NCAA's policies exist because the member schools voted them into existence. To bypass them is to silence the voices of the governed. So while it may satisfy the mob if Emmert hands down a sentence that crushes Penn State's football program, it should cause every athletic director and university president in the nation to question whether his school has a voice in the NCAA anymore.

Penn State will get penalized Monday. Then what? What happens the next time the agreed-upon process moves too slow for Emmert and he decides to play judge, jury and executioner for a different school? It's one thing when Commissioner Roger Goodell does that in a private business such as the NFL. It's quite another in the NCAA, which has a membership consisting mostly of public universities. Hopefully, Emmert will treat this like the emergency it is and hand back those powers as quickly as he grabbed them. Human nature and history suggest that isn't easy.

So maybe I won't have to include that disclaimer anymore. After this, it isn't clear whether the NCAA is a representative democracy anymore. Not if its executive branch has decided that the best way to punish an abuse of absolute power is by granting more absolute power.

Last edited by TrueOrange; 07-22-2012 at 09:53 PM..
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