One man, one (quick) vote: the NCAA and due process

We’ve certainly had a lively debate on the subject of the NCAA’s punishment of Penn State.  It’s obvious I’m not changing any minds with my position and it’s probably time to move on, but before I do, there are just a couple of final bits worth mentioning.

First, Tony Barnhart weighs in with this:

But in our haste to make things right, we cannot forget about due process. Emmert’s position is that the Freeh Report established the facts of this case. And once Penn State signed off on the report and answered a few additional questions, the NCAA had everything it needed to act.

“There was no compelling reason to delay the process,” Emmert said.

How about this? The Freeh Report is just that, a report. It is going to be challenged in a court of law. What if that court finds the report is flawed? I tend to believe that the former director of the FBI probably got it right. But wouldn’t it have made more sense to let the NCAA investigators do their work, let the legal process play out, and then determine if such sanctions were warranted?

I understand the counter argument to that. This case was too important, too tragic, too raw to be left to the normal, flawed, NCAA enforcement process. Emmert needed to assert this authority, like NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, to address a clear case of wrongdoing with swift and certain punishment. In doing so he would put everybody else on notice in a culture that occasionally needs to get taken to the woodshed. That’s a good thing, right?

But that’s the issue. Mark Emmert is not Roger Goodell. Goodell is the commissioner of a professional league, hired by owners, and given virtually unlimited powers to police that league.

Emmert, a very smart man for whom I have a great deal of respect, is the president of a voluntary association of universities. Yes, the idea that these are still amateur sports is a horse that left the barn a long time ago. Feel free to insert your joke here.

Still, the powers of the president are limited by the governance structure of the NCAA. And that can be frustrating as hell. Emmert felt he was operating within that governance structure when he acted in the Penn State case. I’m not comfortable that he did.

When you’ve lost Mr. Conventional Wisdom, you’ve lost, period.  And Barnhart’s not the only one who’s uncomfortable about Emmert’s exercise of power.  The NCAA itself isn’t comfortable.  Look at what’s being cooked up in reaction to his move:

To help allay those concerns, the NCAA plans to examine when and under what circumstances its senior leaders might take future disciplinary action outside of the traditional enforcement and infractions processes, Bob Williams, an NCAA spokesman, told The Chronicle on Wednesday.

The move follows the extraordinary steps taken this week by top NCAA leaders in punishing Penn State for its reported role in covering up child sex abuse by a former football coach. On Monday, Emmert announced stiff penalties against the university, including a $60-million fine, deep scholarship cuts, and a four-year bowl ban.

While many people praised the toughness of the NCAA’s penalties, some athletics officials raised questions about the association’s process, in which Emmert and members of the NCAA’s Executive Committee and Division I Board of Directors sidestepped the normal judicial system.

“When I got started in this business, it used to be one school, one vote,” said a longtime compliance director at a BCS university. “Now it’s one man, one vote.”

Although he stepped in this time, Emmert would be required to receive the board’s and the Executive Committee’s permission to issue sanctions in any future disciplinary case, Williams said.

Again, I understand why this happened.  It was a human response to a grave tragedy.  But it was a dangerous one, too.  I hope nobody has cause for regret about it down the road.  And I’m glad to see the discomfort set in.


UPDATE:  It’s being reported that Penn State was threatened with a four-year death penalty.


Filed under The NCAA

103 responses to “One man, one (quick) vote: the NCAA and due process

  1. Obnoxiousawg

    I guess Mr. Conventional Wisdom advocates is this. NCAA says, “We think these are the facts.” PSU says, “Yep, them’s the facts.” Instead of both the NCAA and PSU acting on what they agree are the facts the NCAA and PSU should have an investigation to figure out what are the facts. Any chance the result of the investigations is anything other than what both sides agree the facts are? What would Mr. Conventional Wisdom say if the investigator said the facts were different than the parties agreed the facts are?

    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      Go watch the movie “A Few Good Men.” That is a very good illustration about why institutions should have to follow due process rather than go off half-cocked.

      • ChicagoDawg

        I get your point, but it is an imperfect comparison if you are suggesting Nicholson and company are the “institution”. The institution in the case of a “Few Good Men” was the Marine Corp/USN, who came down upon the actions of a group of guys who were part of the institution. The bad actors were not an institution — they were just group of guys who illegally took matters into their own hands. The institution provided due process to the guys with no organizing or legal authority who acted on the ‘code red.’

        • Mayor of Dawgtown

          Reread your own post CD. “…were just a group of guys who illegally took matters into their own hands…” Yeah, exactly. The Marine Corps was not fined $60MIL and prevented from signing new Marines either. And the whole truth finally came out by following due process.

          • ChicagoDawg

            My point was in your comparison, the PSU administration is comparable to the rogue Jack N. led guys and the USMC/USN are the NCAA. The institutions, in both cases, had authority to act and there was a process in each instance. PSU could have chosen not to sign the consent decree and had whatever elongated due process hearings available to them.

          • gastr1

            I think there are a lot of people in the CFB world who would criticize the NCAA no matter what they did or didn’t do, pretty much every time. I, for one, blame Bobo.

            • The Lone Stranger

              I’m moving past blaming Bobo and on to blaming Crowell. That’ll be my theme for 2012.

      • Dog in Fla

        The reality-based version was not nearly as exciting as the movie

    • Dubyadee

      Did some grand gesture need to be made? Sure. Did the NCAA have to do that something? Of course not, but since when has that stopped them. Was the NCAA the most efficient/effective actor? Don’t be silly.

      If PSU thought that the Freeh Report represented the facts (which they did), what is the necessary or appropriate role of the NCAA in righting the wrong? Someone posted earlier that the NCAA was giving cover by imposing the sanctions that PSU needed and negotiated for. Maybe I’m missing something, but wouldn’t it have been more powerful for PSU to impose these sanctions on itself?

      I have to admit that I am biased. I think that the NCAA is superficial, ego-maniacal beast that is most interested in increasing its own authority. Sure, it’s decisions are regularly arbitrary and unjust. Sure they often disregard the best interests of the student-athletes it pretends to represent. But there is a rhyme and reason. The NCAA’s choices betray its highest purpose: to ride the Zeitgeist to greater control over college sports. It holds no principle (amateurism or sportsmanship) higher than its self-regard.

      So forgive me if I don’t agree that the NCAA just had to do something about this, and that its decision was good for collegiate sports or, for that matter society, society as a whole. I see it as a pure power play. As they say in politics, never waste a crisis.

      But as I wrote at the top, some grand gesture had to be made. The fact that the people punished by the NCAA had no role in what made this happen, well, them’s just details.

  2. Always Someone Else's Fault

    “See the discomfort set in?” I’d like to see one columnist outside Doyel who supported what the NCAA did or agitated for it prior to Emmert’s actions. If there is conventional wisdom and pressure to conform here, I would argue Emmert and the NCAA flew into those winds rather than being pushed by them. Everyone for months said it was none the of the NCAA’s business after Emmert sent PSU the letter last November. Everyone rushed out articles after Sunday’s leaks blasting what Emmert might do, before he even did it. And then everyone wrote articles shredding him for doing what he did.

    Good questions should be asked about any NCAA action, and by now we all know such questions always will be – no matter what the action. I am not accusing you of this, but it’s clear to me that NCAA-bashing moves the needle. They’re the IRS – nobody is going to love them or stick up for them even then they get something right. Or in this case, really right.

    PSU suspects Sandusky is molesting children, and what do they do? Put Sandusky in charge of their Child relations Division and create a Mother Theresa news story about a star coach walking away from the game he loves to serve kids. They milked that story, pushed it front and center within the PSU brand. Send your kids here; we build character. We care.

    I know you get that. It would just be nice to see people give Emmert at least some credit here for looking at complicated circumstances and a surly media and NOT doing what politicians always do in such circumstances: bail.

    • Scorpio Jones, III

      Well said, well thought…and Senator, if you are down to Tony Barnhart, you have lost the argument. Surrender, let’s move on.

      • Scorpio Jones, III

        You know, maybe what’s really driving Tony’s too late call for caution are his conversations with ADs and coaches who are suddenly slightly more nervous about the whole Penn State thing than they were?

        Good Ole Tony…the horse has left the building, but here comes Tony to shut the stall door.

  3. ChicagoDawg

    Bullshit. “‘How about this? The Freeh Report is just that, a report. It is going to be challenged in a court of law. What if that court finds the report is flawed? I tend to believe that the former director of the FBI probably got it right. But wouldn’t it have made more sense to let the NCAA investigators do their work, let the legal process play out, and then determine if such sanctions were warranted?'” This line of thought from Tony and others is total doublespeak. We lament and wring hands over the ponderous nature of interminable NCAA investigations by nameless/faceless people, but when they leverage an independent body, led by a former Judge and head of the FBI we are going to claim that we should also go back to the same NCAA hackery we have bitched about for years? Again, bullshit.

    Next… “‘Mark Emmert is not Roger Goodell. Goodell is the commissioner of a professional league, hired by owners, and given virtually unlimited powers to police that league.'” Again, I lean upon the most elegant of discriptions — bullshit. Mark Emmert is hired as president of the organizing body (NCAA comparable to NFL for purposes of comparison) formed by member institutions (Universities as compared to team owners) and he carries whatever weight and authority the member institutions give him. He serves at the pleasure of the Universities that choose to be members and agree to abide by its by-laws and special powers granted to it by its governing committee. You may not like it, you may not agree with it, but that is a different discussion. Blow up the NCAA — fine. But, the NCAA is the authoritative body the schools have decided to align with, for good or bad.

    • Scorpio Jones, III

      Bullshit…what a wonderful word, and so accurate.

    • 81Dog

      I cant understand all the “due process” complaining. If Penn State agreed with the conclusions of the Freeh Report, agreed to let the NCAA use the Freeh Report as the basis for sanctions, and agreed to accept whatever punishment the NCAA meted out, where’s the violation?

      If Penn State thinks they made a bad deal, tough. They made it, they had the right not to make it, they had a right to contest NCAA jurisdiction, they had the right to insist on an investigation (not that it would go too well since they’ve already admitted everything in the Freeh Report), they had a right to a hearing. They have plenty of resources, they can afford all the lawyers, experts and investigators they could possibly need. They CHOSE to make a deal.

      All the end of the world wailing by guys like Barnhart, based upon their FEELINGS that this was unfair, or their worries that it may mean something bad in some unnamed case for some future school overlooks the actual facts. PSU made a choice to submit to all this, and to accept all this, rather than fight. They evaluated their own position, and their own goals, and made their own choice. I dont see how that makes much of a precedent, or how it binds any other school in a future investigation. Saying that doesnt generate as many page hits, I guess.

  4. Governor Milledge

    Very true about Mr. Conventional Wisdom.

    Freeh, besides being the former Director of the FBI, was also an FBI agent, a US District Attorney, and a Federal District Judge at some point in his career. We can feel pretty safe in knowing that his findings, unless severely hampered by time constraints or lack of cooperation by the administration, would be just as reliable, if not moreso, than a bunch of NCAA investigators.

    Some of the factual nuances may be challenged in court, most particularly Paterno’s role/knowledge in the matter when his estate is sued, but the overall findings will undoubtedly stand on their own.

    The whole process was unprecedented, and Emmert and the NCAA board were clearly shooting from the hip to some degree. Maybe the hypothetical process I mentioned in the other thread will evolve out of this ‘step back and re-evaluate’ process by the NCAA, ultimately leading to a better, more responsive compliance process. (I’ll save you the response, Senator: And if wishes were horses, then beggars would ride.)

    While the NCAA is technically a ‘voluntary association’, until the major football conferences en masse break off and leave the weak sisters of the BCS, it really isn’t voluntary. PSU, or any other school, in no way could say “we disagree with you NCAA; we’re leaving”; the hypothetical school that did that would disintegrate academically and athletically before our eyes.

    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      You raise a very important point Governor. “…until the major football conferences en mass break off and leave…” That is what may very well be the final outcome of this power grab by the NCAA. Suppose you are running an institution that has an annual revenue of $60,000,000 from football operations. Do you really want to be part of an association where you can be fined a year’s worth of revenue and also have your operations impaired for years, if not permanently, by one man? So something comes out that others in your institution did that was horrible, but really it was only half a dozen or fewer people. Once you find out you fire them all, report it to the authorities and STILL the one man can totally ruin your business by signing a decree. “Accept it–if you don’t I’ll impose something worse.” Bye, bye NCAA. You weren’t any good anyway. Hello 60 team new division in college football run by a new organization akin to the College Football Association that was formed in the wake of the UGA/OU lawsuit that pried TV rights away from the NCAA years ago. this were moving in that direction before anyway. It’s only a matter of time now.

      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        “Things were moving…”

      • Always Someone Else's Fault

        They have been moving in that direction for years. This was not a cabal of small-school presidents ramming small-school logistics or Robin Hood-revenue sharing down big school throats. This was a consensus of big school presidents lining up and giving a fellow big school a big thumbs down. Emmert is not an NCAA loyalist. He’s a guy who comes from LSU and Washington, SEC and Pac 12, and everything he’s doing is moving the NCAA towards a body that tilts in favor of those interests over the numerical one-school / one-vote / San Diego State = USC NCAA we have all come to know and love.

  5. Dog in Fla

    “The crimes that took place there are so heinous in nature that…several others — including former president Graham Spanier — will never again work in higher education.”

    Who needs higher education work?

    “Former Penn State University president Graham Spanier said he will soon begin working for the federal government on projects related to national security.”

  6. Hogbody Spradlin

    I’d be interested to know the rationale behind the number $60 million. Why not $50 million or $70 million?

    • ChicagoDawg

      I had heard it was the approximate number of annual revenue the football team brings. So, I suspect it is meant to demonstrate 1yrs worth of revenues as a penalty/fine.

    • Biggus Rickus

      Didn’t they say it was the revenue generated by the football program in a year?

  7. Cojones

    PSU advocated for and got an independent investigation headed by a no-nonsense, facts-are-what-we-deal-with, Freeh. They agreed ahead of time to abide by that investigative body’s findings. When Freeh presented the report, no one had a problem with the facts and the conclusions and PSU signed off on it as the findings of truth that they got.

    The”challenge in court” Barnhart refers to is tangential to other legal activities that will use the report in prosecutions. Of course the aholes being sued are going to challenge it in court! Barnhart implied that a challenge to that report would be forthcoming through PSU. Since when? They already accepted it. Barnhart has already given the report and subsequent acceptance undue process by telling us they now will challenge it.

    My learned friend, Chicago Dawg, has already elegantly used my favorite term (three times) for such obfuscative folderol by Barnhart: Bullshit.

    Senator, I too call upon certain op eds to bolster my points, but your invoking of Bombastic “Boob” Barnhart to boost your buttressed blunder is beyond belief.🙂

    • Dog in Fla

      Louis Freeh investigations don’t need no stinking due process

      “An investigation took place, incidentally led by Louis Freeh who also led the recent Penn State investigation, which concluded that circumstantial evidence implicated bin Hammam in the bribery.”

    • Always Someone Else's Fault

      The Paterno loyalists are not going away. They will pick-pick-pick at the report for years – but at least they will be focused on Freeh instead of running a program civil war for a couple of generations. I’ve read some of the anonymous quotes from trustees up there. Some of them are nuts. As far as they are concerned, Joe got railroaded, it was just one guy who deceived everybody, and PSU doesn’t have to apologize to anyone for anything. They will have their day in court. They are no worth factoring into a decision tree.

    • Scorpio Jones, III

      No shit, Senator….Tony Barnhart….give me a break. I put more stock in your arguments than anything Barnhart has to say.

      The two parties agree to the facts and Tony is not happy with that…I believe that happens in legal matters each and every day.

      But of course, that’s not good enough for Tony.

      • Scorpio Jones, III

        And, where and when is the Freeh report going to be successfully challenged in court?

        “Although he stepped in this time, Emmert would be required to receive the board’s and the Executive Committee’s permission to issue sanctions in any future disciplinary case, Williams said.

        So Emmert and the President of the University of Oregon both lied during their press conference when they said they had the signoff of both the board and the Executive Committee on the Penn State punishment?

        Very strange story indeed.

        • Before you accept Freeh’s report as gospel, maybe you should take a look at where it stops in terms of assessing blame. Maybe it’s just a funny coincidence that the people who wrote the check for the investigation don’t get a finger pointed at them.

          • shane#1

            wasn’t Freeh Director when the football was dropped at Waco and Ruby Ridge or was that before Reno kicked him upstairs? I don’t take much stock in anything Freeh’s investigation turns up, I have no confidence in his ability or his honesty.

            • Doug

              Ruby Ridge was September 1992, Waco was April ’93. Freeh didn’t become FBI director until September ’93.

          • Scorpio Jones, III

            Whether I accept the findings of the Freeh report is irrelevant, in my view. What is relevant is that the people who wrote the check also admitted the guilt the report delineated. The people who wrote the check were not in charge when the deed was done, there, but not in charge.

            First you picked on the NCAA, now you are picking at the report, who paid for it and so forth.

            I assume that’s a product of your education and training.

            But at some point the case has to go to the jury, it did, and based on what I read around the Sphere, your point of view…whatever it actually may be, is the minority opinion.

            In my opinion the above cited story is begun from a flawed premise, possibly because the writer did not pay much attention to what was said by Emmert and others at the news conference, or just from lack of training to remember what folks say.

            The idea that Emmert somehow made the Penn State decision in a vacuum is, based on his remarks and response to questions, simply incorrect. To support that idea adds nothing to the discussion.

            I, for one, have very much enjoyed this “lively discussion”, although I wish it could have been about something that is not so dark and damning about something we all love…college football.

            In all seriousness, Senator, I sho do appreciate Get the Picture and the forum you provide for all us ” little folks gathered around the radio at the gas station.” (HT Hugh Durham).

            Your continued allowing unfettered access to a place where we can get together to laugh, cry and argue is….well, I guess its like a very comfortable neighborhood bar.

            I have very much appreciated the deep thinking obvious in most of the contributions about this issue, whether I agreed with them or not.

            And, again, I guess this or something like it had to happen, I am just glad as hell it did not happen in Athens.


      • Dog in Fla

        “I put more stock in your arguments than anything Barnhart has to say.”

        Which may be where Tony “[a]fter reading everything I could” Bagels got them from in the first place.

      • ChicagoDawg

        Yeah, I have to confess the disappointment in the Senator invoking Mr. CW to support an argument. On the contrary, it should be a cause for self-doubt and a re-evaluation of your origional position.

      • You’re missing the point. TB doesn’t criticize the hand that feeds him. For him to express disapproval is harsh.

        By the way, nothing to say about the NCAA’s decision?

        • Always Someone Else's Fault

          Or maybe the conventional wisdom he’s deferring to in this instance would be the nearly unanimous opinio-ator opposition to the NCAA’s decision.

          Which was hashed over pretty thoroughly yesterday. Understandable positions on both sides.

          • ChicagoDawg

            CW is on the horns of a conventional wisdom delimma. I am sure he was walking the floors with anxiety trying to determine the least objectionable position and I suspect he concluded it was 50.1 vs 49.9 in favor of clubbing the NCAA.
            This is Tony’s idea of staking out an edgy position. However, unlike the Senator I don’t think Tony fears poking the NCAA. His primary patrons are the cats in Birmingham, the various HCs in the conference, the BCS/Bowl goofs and the Network power brokers.

          • “… the nearly unanimous opinio-ator opposition to the NCAA’s decision.”

            We must be reading different Internets. Most of the responses I’ve read are very much pro-Emmert. In fact, I’ve seen a few arguing he didn’t go far enough.

            • Always Someone Else's Fault

              Barnhart, Hall, Mandel, Maisel, Pennington, Staples, Hayes, Decourcy, Doyel, Dodds, Woj, Forde, Wetzel – all wrote columns after Emmert’s letter in Nov ranging from “bad idea” to outright mockery. Many of them ripped something out Sunday after the initial leaks, and none of them said, “About time.” All of them said, “Don’t do this.” These national columnists were representative of a bunch of local ones that I won’t bother listing here.

              I could go on, but the support I see is in the comments sections, not the columns. Doyel flipped, and couple of the others waffled, but the majority of columns have been negative. Unless the NCAA did some polling, I’m not seeing the “lynch mob.” Was there some support for NCAA action prior to and after? Sure. But I’m a bit baffled that the opposition casts itself as an enlightened minority – because opposition to NCAA action has been the clear majority opinion among college sports writers and bloggers.

        • ChicagoDawg

          Senator, the NCAA doesn’t feed Tony. Unlike college basketball, the NCAA carries little power with football except for issues relating to compliance, of course. The compliance piece is real power to be sure, but type of power is not where Tony’s bread is buttered. The real stroke lies with who controls the $$$$$ and the CFA, TV & BCS cut the NCAA out of $$$ trough equation, so there is little risks here as it pertains to Tony’s seat the table. The easy and predictable target in this whole sanctions affair is the NCAA.

          • Right. How often do you see TB criticize the NCAA? Or Emmert in particular?

            • ChicagoDawg

              Or anyone for that matter, staking out opinions is not his deal. He is vapid. My point is the NCAA is not as daunting a target for Tony as it might seem and frankly it is a fairly safe and predictable one.

  8. gastr1

    Senator, now you’re going to need another post about how PSU faced a 4-year death penalty without this de facto plea bargain that the NCAA negotiated with them (rather than forced down their throats per the prevailing meme).

    Please, let’s all hear how the NCAA fucked this up too.

    • mp

      How is that not forcing the plea down their throats? “If you don’t sign up for this deal and force us to take you through due process, we’re giving you the max penalty?”. They didn’t fuck anything up, but they did create a situation where PSU had no choice.

      • The Lone Stranger

        PSU created said situation where it had no choice.

      • Always Someone Else's Fault

        It’s called a plea bargain – “take X now or risk Y later”

        • Scorpio Jones, III

          If this is true, so what?

          If you can’t do the time, don’t let the crime go on and on and on.

          I feel sorry for the kids at Penn State, both athletes and not, but I have no sympathy, none for the insititution that was Penn State.

        • mp

          Except it’s being offered by the man who is acting as the prosecutor, judge and jury.

          • Always Someone Else's Fault

            No – if PSU had rejected the offer, the case would have reverted to normal NCAA procedures: notice of allegations, etc. Months of bad press for everyone, a factor not even being discussed

            • gastr1

              Right…if you actually bother to read the article, the PSU president says they could have rejected the “plea” deal and faced an official NCAA investigation that could have resulted in a multiple-year death penalty.
              As duly noted, once again, the big, bad NCAA must be to blame. Or maybe Bobo.

          • gastr1

            It wasn’t just Emmert. He was just the messenger.

  9. The Lone Stranger

    This is apropos of absolutely nothing, but I got to wondering yesterday where did little Carlton Thomas touch down since leaving this Spring?

    • Cojones

      Probably running up the middle somewhere.

    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      I think they’ll be needing some players at Penn State. He should be able to land there.

      • Scorpio Jones, III

        Recon we can work a deal for Silas Redd?….shit, I can’t believe I even thought that, circling buzzards and all…I guess I have expended all the righteous indignation I can do in a couple of days…lets get back to the main chance.

    • Dog in Fla

      Don’t know but the next time I catch the red light in Frostproof by Ben Hill Griffin packing house, I’ll roll down the window and yell out for him to see if anyone knows his 10-20.

  10. Scorpio Jones, III

    Hey….they got kickers up there?

  11. Mayor of Dawgtown

    I strongly recommend that Mark Emmert not drive around anywhere within the confines of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He just might get busted for doing 51 in a 50 MPH zone, arrested, taken to jail, full-body searched including all cavities, then put in a holding cell with a group of very large men who are all Penn State fans.

  12. WindyCityDawg

    Not to get all Terrible Lawyery here, but Due Process exists to prevent the government from infringing upon legal rights without a proper hearing or proceeding. 1) Playing football is not a legal right; 2) the NCAA is not the government.

    Therefore, Penn State does not have any right whatsoever to “Due Process.” Playing NCAA football is a privilege not a right, and privileges can be taken away by those that grant the privilege. As I understand it, the university presidents that would normally vote on sanctions ceded that authority to Emmert and he acted. There are no Due Process concerns here, and frankly equating playing football with legal (and human) rights protected by Due Process is goddamn insane.

    • 69Dawg

      Amen and Amen, tell it all brother.

    • Well, I went to law school (which I guess makes me a Terrible Lawyer😉 ), and I don’t think I’m crazy, so let me take a moment to respond.

      You’re right, of course, that the NCAA isn’t a governmental institution, which means that constitutional due process isn’t in play here. Now I can’t speak for Tony Barnhart’s use of the term, but I’m not using it in that sense. I’ve never referred to the Constitution or the 5th Amendment specifically in the discussion.

      But the fact remains that the NCAA is an institution with its own set of procedures and guidelines which it claims to follow in enforcement. When I use due process in this conversation, that’s the context in which I’m using it. And whether you agree with Emmert’s decision or not, it’s clear that the NCAA consciously decided to ignore its usual process in sanctioning Penn State. Let me give you two examples of that.

      First, this marks the first occasion for which the NCAA has sanctioned a member institution without conducting its own investigation. Instead, it outsourced that part of the process to the Freeh report. Freeh, it should be remembered, is nothing more than a hired gun, a private investigator hired by the folks running Penn State. He’s not independent. Now maybe that’s not a problem for you. But I bet Mike Slive and Auburn wish they’d have been given a similar opportunity when Daddy Newton got caught with his hand out. And don’t think some other school won’t suggest similar treatment in the future might be appropriate.

      Second, speaking of the Newton situation, an organization that proclaimed itself powerless to do anything there because there was no specific language in its by-laws that applied suddenly discovered a new-found flexibility to act against Penn State.

      “While there’s been much speculation about whether this fits this specific bylaw or that specific bylaw,” said Emmert, “it certainly hits the fundamental values of what athletics are supposed to be doing in the context of higher education.”

      Again, is that the new standard going forward, or not?

      I analogized this to the Bush v. Gore ruling, with good reason. It’s not a good sign when the organization in question tips its hand by saying that its decision is a one-off matter based on the specific facts at hand. Emmert, it seems to me, is trying to have things both ways – he claims that his decision is intended to send a message to schools about football culture while at the same time acknowledging the specialness of the circumstances to justify his actions.

      Maybe it all works out. Maybe it’s one of those rare circumstances when the ends do justify the means. But what it’s not is an example of the NCAA following its own procedures. And when we’re talking about the harshest sanctions that it’s ever handed out, I think that’s an important point to remember.

      • ChicagoDawg

        Senator, it seems as though anything the NCAA does or attempts to do is wrong. We bitch about them “outsourcing” the investigation and for years we have decried the NCAA incestigative process. We bitched about the absurd outcome of the Cam/AU situation as the NCAA sat back and rendered itself powerless, despite the fact the spirit of it’s by-laws were crapped upon. So, in this case, despite not having specific language prohibiting ex-coaches from being allowed to rape kids on campus, the NCAA stepped in and acted with approval from its Board of Governors and the consent of PSU. I have loathed the NCAA as much as anyone, but we can’t have it both ways and damn them for their past sins and damn them for breaking from the ridiculous processes they have used for decades.

        • Dubyadee

          Yes we can. Arbitrariness is its own sin.

          But as I mention above, there is a general method to the madness: riding the wave of public opinion to greater authority.

          • ChicagoDawg

            Of course you can try to have it both ways. However, I would argue that you are in danger of not being taken seriously by doing so. Like it or not, PSU and it’s peers (fellow organizing members of the NCAA) granted the Board of Governors and the President wide latitude, which may include some degree of “arbitrariness.”

            • Dubyadee

              I assure you that my opinion on college football has never been taken seriously. And I understand your point. This is the system that the school presidents have put in place. They like it because it takes them off the hook for self-policing while still allowing them to wield influence over the outcomes.

      • WindyCityDawg

        The distinction between this and your Cam Newton hypothetical is this: Penn State commissioned this investigation and accepted its findings. Based upon those findings — which were not in dispute — the NCAA felt comfortable levying penalties.

        My guess is that if Auburn commissioned its own investigation by Tony the Tiger, Tony found nothing amiss, and Auburn accepted those findings, the NCAA wouldn’t care, and it would conduct its investigation anyway. But let’s take that situation and create a hypothetical akin to what’s occurred here: Auburn hires a former director of the FBI; the director finds that Cecil received money, Cam knew about it, Auburn knew about it, and Auburn let Cam play anyway; and Auburn then accepts those findings. I doubt the NCAA would conduct a duplicative investigation and would likely punish Auburn for its misdeeds. Frankly with the time frames required to finish the NCAA investigations, I am fine with this alternative. The protracted NCAA investigations simply extend the punishment to people that were not involved in the problem to begin with.

        With respect to the unique nature of this case and investigation, I’m a bit torn. Bush v. Gore is worthless precedent because it is unlikely to occur again. Likewise, the Penn State decision is worthless precedent because (please God) it is unlikely to happen again. The difference here though is that part of the problem with Penn State began with a single individual having immense power — something the NCAA felt the need to address.

      • Always Someone Else's Fault

        You’re ignoring the criminal investigations. The Freeh report was not the only document in play here. It was the final piece of the puzzle, clearing up what Paterno, Spanier, Shultz and Curly knew and when. There was circumstantial evidence for that prior to the Freeh report, but the report itself raised those suspicions from “maybe” to “highly probable.”

        PSU agreed to waive those procedures. You’re leaving that out as well. Which brings me that alternative….

        1 – PSU goes through the normal NCAA process. A war erupts between the Paterno loyalists, who want to fight everything, and the Move Forward camp, who want to cooperate. Locks in a program civil war that lasts 2 generations or more.
        2 – Months of bad press, never letting the story die.
        3 – Helicopters hover overhead the COI meeting.
        4 – PSU gets blasted anyway, adding a year or more of bad press and uncertainty to the sanctions.

        Let me ask you this: if you are the PSU president, do you take the NCAA deal, or do you opt for Door #2? I would. I want this over, done with, and I want the Paterno apologists licking their wounds in a corner rather than dividing the program into two bitter war camps for the next 25 years.

        • So, again, if somebody’s indicted, they’re guilty, guilty, guilty in the eyes of the NCAA? Because nobody besides Sandusky has been found guilty of anything in a court of law yet.

          This is why I raised the Duke lacrosse fiasco yesterday. If an indictment is enough for the NCAA to act, what would Emmert have done in that situation?

          What would I have done were I the PSU president? Well, seeing how things have come down, I’m not so sure I would have sprung for the Freeh report.😉

          • Always Someone Else's Fault

            Or maybe he’s a wise person who understands that the only path forward is a clear accounting and an acceptance of responsibility. I’m not saying you’re not, just that “protecting your immediate interests” thinking can lose sight of the big picture and long term view, costing you way more over time.

            The Duke case does not apply here, IMO, for a dozen reasons – first and foremost because Duke University officials were not involved in covering anything up or allowing “it” to happen again (and it didn’t even happen, as was proven in a time frame shorter than the one we’re dealing with here). You seem to be focusing on the public outrage as making the two cases equivalent, when they’re anything but. And the fact that the Durham DA was proven to be grossly corrupt in his duties explains why the news cycle got fed as long as it did, making even that aspect of the comparison difficult.

            • You seem to be focusing on the public outrage as making the two cases equivalent…

              No, the criminal indictments.

              • Always Someone Else's Fault

                No one was indicted for covering up anything. No one was convicted of 45 counts of anything other than the corrupt DA. It’s a thin connection at best. And yes, if the NCAA had leaped into the Duke case prior to Nifong’s exposure, then I would be howling about it.

                Because they were and are two completely different cases. Both involved athletic departments, and both involved publicity. Other than that, it’s like comparing the bankruptcies at Enron and General Motors and arguing that the US government shouldn’t have touched GM because a similar power theoretically could have resulted in a debacle with Enron. I’m not guying that one at all. Sorry.

            • Dog in Fla

              Duke’s Version of Freeh (Updated)

              “Though Duke steadfastly refused to publish a White Paper or even establish a Coleman Committee-like investigation of why and how the administration and “activist”faculty got the lacrosse case so wrong, there was—technically, at least—a Duke version of the Freeh Committee.”


      • Dante

        If Penn State challenged the NCAA in a court of law and lost here I’d agree with you. However, Penn State accepted the punishment. They’re not going to appeal. They’re in effect sanctioning themselves. There’s no legal precedent established here that the NCAA can behave this way so I’m not particularly worried about an NCAA power grab. Emmert does want it both ways here and as long as Penn State willingly complies, he can have that.

      • Cojones

        Senator, everytime you bring up a point and it is refuted, you squelch down the argument to a finer line that continues to get refuted. If I were the owner of gtp, I would be pretty proud of the input that is almost devoid of rancor and considerate of other opinions here. The logic on each side has led to a discussion that could be used as a standard for others to borrow from and create better blog sites for fans. You gotta be aware of that. When you get your tail twisted, you push back the way I expect any Dawg that gives a shit to act and when we get our tail twisted, we reply in kind. Thanks for not trying to control like a Major Domo.

        The logic aired here is cathartic for us all. Thanks. Of course from time to time you get curious appearances from some aholes who are difficult to categorize and who run amuck nonseriously and prank humor. I’m amazed at the amount of patience you display with those pot-stirring blog aholes, whereas, it sure does fire up the blogging juices.

  13. Chuck

      It was a human response to a grave tragedy.  But it was a dangerous one, too.  I hope nobody has cause for regret about it down the road.

    Basically, it was the action of a self-righteous lynch mob. I didn’t have much respect for the NCAA before the announcement, and I ave even less now.

  14. Macallanlover

    They got it right, you can all argue about whether the NCAA is qualified or authorized, but for once, they got it right. We could have waited 10 years for the legal process to grind this out, let PSU pretend they are above any scrutiny, but let’s not forget how effective the legal system was with OJ and Casey Anthony. For God’s sake, the entire line of authority in Happy Valley was rotten and you guys bitch about the one thing the NCAA has gotten right. Death Penalty for 20 years wouldn’t have been too much for those arrogant assholes, nor the ones in Columbus, Ohio who also acted offended when their long term cheating was exposed.

    I am not saying there aren’t others that need intervention, nor that the NCAA didn’t trip on its Johnson in the Cam fiasco, but how can you not applaud somebody bitch-slapping those no-principled defenders who are on every radio station defending the cowardly leaders at PSU who put their ego and power base ahead of dealing with a child rapist? It was time for someone to act, and the NCAA did. And Penn State signed off on it. It is really time to move on….and to stop interviewing the Paterno apologists 20 hours a day. CFB will be better when people are held accountable for acting badly.

    • Dubyadee

      “For God’s sake, the entire line of authority in Happy Valley was rotten . . ” -My understanding is that line of authority was removed from the University shortly after this disaster became public. I’m all for public executions, but prefer that only the guilty get shot in the back of the head.

      “How can you not applaud somebody bitch-slapping those no-principled defenders who are on every radio station defending the cowardly leaders at PSU who put their ego and power base ahead of dealing with a child rapist?” -I’m also in favor of bitch-slapping, but I get concerned when the bithch slapping comes from the High Sheriff of Collegiate Athletics, because that guy scares me. He walks by our house all the time, and I hate being scared that he’s in a bad mood or thinks that it’s been to long since someone got a whoopin’.

      “It was time for someone to act, and the NCAA did.” -That, I believe, is the core of the problem. Whenever the public thinks something needs to be done, the NCAA always seems to volunteer.

      And I’m not sure you’ll find any Paterno apologists here, so keep that broad brush in your pocket.

      • Dog in Fla

        After the statue (high-value target) is pulled down and the “bitch slapping comes from the High Sheriff of Collegiate Athletics,” the slap is usually accompanied by a High Sheriff press release . This is one of them:

        “I love the smell of napalm in the morning. You know, one time we had the Valley of Happy bombed, for 12 hours. When it was all over, I walked up. We didn’t find one of ’em, not one stinkin’ dink body. The smell, you know that ‘Cologne of Knee-Jerk’ smell, the whole valley. Smelled like… victory or Old Spice. Someday this war’s gonna end…” and then I’ll be out of a job unless Penn State just so happens to need a new replacement President…

      • Macallanlover

        There was no broad brush used, nor intended. My remarks were specifically directed at those who are defend Paterno as if his, “reputed” years of goodness and integrity excuses his obvious role in this affair. I wasn’t saying this board was eaten up with that belief, but there are a lot of Paterno apologists that aren’t named Jay, and who did not play football for PSU. Many in the coaching fraternity are decrying the attack on their old colleague, perhaps because they have praised him so much in the past and are closely aligned with him. Or because they see how fleeting reputations can be.

        As for the likelihood that the NCAA will run wild following this, I just don’t see it. If anything the NCAA has been slow to act in the past (see USC, tosu) or didn’t act at all and completely shirking their responsibilities (see Auburn). I feel this entire affair, unique and grotesque beyond all others, cried out for action. I don’t think dismissing four men and saying they would provide more oversight by the BOT is anywhere near enough. And I don’t see any innocent blood in taking strong action. This action was appropriate, imo, and justifying staying out of it because it could be misused in the future before that even happens can always be a defense for sitting on one’s hands.

        • I don’t think dismissing four men and saying they would provide more oversight by the BOT is anywhere near enough.

          I’m sure PSU’s current players and coaches appreciate your sentiment.

          • Macallanlover

            Not sure they are in a position to be objective Senator. Some of those people deserve our sympathy, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be smart enough to see something had to be done. The players have a get out of jail pass (even if inconvenient), and the HC just got a 4 year extension at $2.3MM per year. Looks like the assistant coaches are the biggest losers in this. As for the fans, I have heard few PSU fans understand how disgusting their program have become. The majority of them (based on the limited sample I hear from) deserve to get slammed. I am sick of hearing their excuses and asking for understanding. I appreciate fans are too emotionally close to be objective, but they need to step back and look in the mirror. And yes, we have some of those kind at UGA too and I don’t care much for them either. There is a way to win, selling out your principles to do so isn’t something I will ever endorse regardless of the school affiliation.

    • Doug

      . . . how can you not applaud somebody bitch-slapping those no-principled defenders who are on every radio station defending the cowardly leaders at PSU who put their ego and power base ahead of dealing with a child rapist?

      Whom are you talking about here? The dug-in Paterno fans on message boards and the dumbass kids camped out by the Paterno statue? If the NCAA doesn’t have anything better to do than “bitch-slap” irrelevant parties such as those, it’s time to disband the organization forthwith.

      Maybe you’re right that “CFB will be better when people are held accountable for acting badly,” but guess what? Sandusky is in jail, and more than likely Curley and Schultz will soon be joining him, thanks to the criminal justice system (which holds the actual authority here). On the other hand, if by “acting badly” you mean posting stupid tweets and going off half-cocked on message boards, then guess what — you’ve just given the NCAA carte blanche to “bitch-slap” every football program in the country.

      • Always Someone Else's Fault

        I’m not one of those who thinks the justice system is going to accomplish what everyone assumes it’s going to.

        1 – Curly and Shultz actually have a fairly low bar to clear to escape criminal prosecution. A good lawyer is going to tie the jury in knots because they weren’t direct witnesses. It’s also always handy to have a dead person to work with in a case like this. “Got a crucial point up in the air? Blame it on the dead guy.” Assuming they go to jail is probably misplaced.
        2 – I am guessing Paterno’s civil liability followed him to the grave. It would where I live. His estate won’t be paying anybody anything – not involuntarily.
        3 – The others don’t have much to offer financially, and that assumes civil plaintiffs get the right judge and jury. Court cases are like surgery – even the healthiest patients die on the table sometimes. It’s always a risk.
        4 – If Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court decides now is the right time to embrace sovereign immunity – like the Texas SC did in the Leach suit – then PSU won’t be paying a dime to a victim beyond the NCAA penalty.

        I’ll bet you a bottle of MacAllen 18 YO that we look back in 5 years and find the only penalties worth discussing in this case are the NCAA sanctions.

        • Doug

          OK, let’s say Curley and Schultz beat the criminal rap. They (and Penn State) are still wide-open to literally dozens of civil lawsuits from the victims and their families. And that’s even before we get into the Clery Act, which could yet get PSU into even hotter water with the federal government.

          If you don’t have faith that PSU will be held accountable by these various authorities and mechanisms, that’s your right, and it’s not something we can really debate. But I don’t like the idea of arbitrarily deciding that the justice system hasn’t given us what we wanted and then trusting in an organization as incompetent as the NCAA to exact that pound of flesh on our behalf.

          • Always Someone Else's Fault

            Nothing was done our behalf. I was addressing the assumption that PSU and principals here are going to get wiped out in court and that the NCAA is just piling on. I was not suggesting that the NCAA had to do this because the court systems will fail.

            I’ve continually argued that this was both an NCAA matter and a criminal matter, to be addressed simultaneously but independently of each other. The counter-argument seems to have a whiff of, “Well, the courts are gonna bust them, so let’s just leave it at that.” I think that’s a leap at this point.

      • Macallanlover

        I think you know full well that an out of control NCAA is not what I expect going forward, nor would it be something I would ever support. If you think putting Sandusky in jail and dealing with Curley and Schultz at some point down the road will do anything to clean up corruptness in big time athletics, I feel you are naive.

        I believe the strong dose of medicine and total loss of jobs, money, freedom, and reputation will make many potential cover-ups of serious transgressions unlikely. Will it prevent idiots from being idiots 100% of the time? Absolutely not, but it is more likely going to a lone wolf, not an entire line of succession collaborating to sweep it under the rug. I feel this will serve as an effective deterrent, and I think everyone will be on their toes for abuse of power from the NCAA. Since the NCAA exists only at the behest of the member institutions, there is a pretty good check and balance in place. As stated earlier, the NCAA has been more toothless and incompetent in the past than it has ferocious. I am just glad to see they snapped the right head off when they decided to bite.

        I don’t think message board posters and tweeters are what drove the NCAA to action. Collectively, the tens of millions of passionate fans helped contribute to the culture that made these “men” feel they were invincible, and that their beloved program/records/money were more important than the danger they allowed to exist on their campus. I don’t think PSU is the only place this exists so maybe the severity of the actions by the NCAA will prevent something in the future. I think it has everyone’s attention, and will lead to more oversight by those in charge of college campuses…and that is a great start. You can damn well bet any knowledge of illegal activities in the athletic departments have a better chance of surfacing, and being acted on now. One thing about little men in high positions, they get skeered easily. The spotline has been turned on, and I like seeing rats scurrying for cover.

        • Doug

          I think everyone will be on their toes for abuse of power from the NCAA.

          This does not comfort me. Wasn’t everyone already well aware that the NCAA was prone to abuses of power? Handing over control — unilateral control, apparently — to a guy like Emmert and saying “Yeah, he’s a megalomaniac, but his abuses of power will accomplish things I’m in favor of about half the time, so I can live with it” is not how one builds trust in, or respect for, an organization.

  15. I’m a little late to this, but the fact that Penn Stare was being threatened with a four-year death penalty changes everything. It casts doubt on Penn State’s agreement with the facts in the Freeh Report, probably most importantly, because that’s the most often cited justification for swift action. And now maybe Penn State’s board is possibly going to question whether their president even had the authority to bind it in an agreement? What happens if they vote that he did not, and challenge the NCAA sanctions on agency grounds? Huge mess. This is exactly why a little circumspection was in order. I cant tell you how many times ive heard “well this was a really extreme case.” Exactly. The fact that this is a egregious case meant it was a good idea to move slowly, not the opposite. Lynch mobs are fast. There is nothing good about fast justice. This was mob-mentality justice. I don’t see how anyone can defend Emmert here.

    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      There also exists such a thing as the “Doctrine of Unintended Consequences.” You may have just pointed one out if it comes to pass. Another is the feeding frenzy for PSU players among certain football programs…cough…Illinois….cough…that is going on which is giving a black eye to college football in general and the NCAA in particular for causing it. Did those goons not think through the ramifications of their actions? Rod Gilmore stated on the radio yesterday that he thought that the timing of this action was based, at least in part, on the fact that Emmert was about to leave for London to attend the Olympics and that “he wanted to get this done before he left town.” Is that any way to make a decision on something as serious as this? I think Emmert “jumped the shark” with this.

  16. FunkyMonkeyonThePorch

    Considering the administration covered up Child Rape for 15 years, I think they got let off pretty light.