Sex, lies and the Freeh Report

Obviously, as much as I run my mouth here, I’m gonna be wrong about some things.  But one thing I believe I continue to be vindicated about is the position I took condemning Mark Emmert’s tactics in sanctioning Penn State in the wake of the disclosures about Jerry Sandusky.

For Emmert and the NCAA, it’s not just that it’s a poor strategy to ride roughshod over established organizational procedures, although there’s little question that taking an end-justifies-the-means approach opens you up to so many questions when the next crisis inevitably appears.  It’s also that as time passes and criticisms mount, things you hoped would remain hidden see the light of day and paint you in an even worse light.

As a lawsuit against the NCAA in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State winds its way toward trial, depositions in the case have prompted questions over the validity of NCAA president Mark Emmert’s threat that a committee of university presidents was in favor of shutting down Penn State’s football program.

Emmert, in testimony in advance of a trial set for next month, says there was a “very strong consensus” on the 22-member NCAA executive committee to impose a multi-year death penalty as part of the school’s punishment for its failure to take action years earlier against Sandusky, a former Penn State football assistant coach who was convicted in 2012 of serial child sex abuse and sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison.

Rodney Erickson, Penn State’s president at the time of the sanctions, said in his deposition that Emmert told him the “presidents want blood” and “would like to shut your program down for multiple years.” The depositions, some of which have not been made public but were obtained by USA TODAY Sports, include details on days of communications in July 2012 that indicate Penn State officials believed they had little choice other than to accept the NCAA’s harsh terms in a consent decree to avert the loss of its football program, a major revenue producer that helps pay for many of the school’s athletic teams.

But in recalling those days in a deposition taken Dec. 8, six days after Emmert’s, Oregon State president Ed Ray, who in 2012 was president of the executive committee, said talk of the death penalty for Penn State never gathered strong support. Ray said the committee discussed such a severe penalty twice – coming to no consensus the first time and voting against it overwhelmingly four days later.

Ray said he could not remember the vote outcome, “but if you told me it was 19 to 2, I would believe you.”

Ray, by the way, is quite the pip himself.  He now admits that in gunning for sanctions to be placed on Penn State, he hadn’t bothered to do his homework.

In his testimony in the Paterno Family’s ongoing case, Ray admitted that he was unaware that he needed to prep for anything related to the Freeh Report before the organization’s executive board met to discuss possible sanctions on the University. Instead, Ray spent time in Hawaii where he was unable to read the entire report. Ray said he returned on the 19th or 20th and approved the consent decree on the 21st without actually reading the report that was the basis of those sanctions. It’s worth noting that the entire Freeh report was viewable and downloadable online for the entirety of Ray’s trip and two days before.

Nice.  But let’s get back to the head man, shall we?

The gist of it is that Emmert was selling a story to Penn State that no one else on the NCAA side believed was true.

The NCAA executive committee holds a conference call for its initial discussion of possible Penn State sanctions. Emotions ran high, Ray and Emmert say in their depositions, but they give conflicting testimony as to the members’ interest in the death penalty.

Emmert says there was a “very strong sentiment” to impose a suspension of play among the executive committee and Division I board of directors. “There was, as I recall, a very strong consensus among people on the call that circumstances this egregious warranted the death penalty,” Emmert said in his deposition.

Remy, a longtime member of Emmert’s inner circle, was asked in his deposition whether there was a prevailing view about what the appropriate action would be. “I wouldn’t characterize it that way,” he said, “but there was certainly a majority sense that one of the possibilities here clearly should be the imposition of a stop in play.”

Ray says members held various views and that nothing was decided.

“Some people spoke in favor of it, or that it should be part of the package; others said they weren’t so sure. Others didn’t speak up at all,” Ray said in his deposition.

By the end of the call, there was, “No consensus at all,” Ray said.

When Lennon was asked in his deposition whether the committee supported the death penalty, he said. “Ultimately, I recall the board and the executive committee not gravitating to that response.”

Emmert also spoke to Erickson, who said the NCAA president gave him the impression that if Penn State did not move toward accepting some sort of package of sanctions, the school faced a high probability of having its football program shut down.

It’s one thing for, say, a policeman to mislead a suspect in an interrogation to obtain information about a crime.  It’s another for the head of an organization to lie to a member school about the sanctions it faces as part of trying to shake it down for penalty money (not to mention the praise for action Emmert sought for himself).

The precedent set here is horrendous and looks worse with each passing day.  Knowing what you know now, if you were a school president facing possible penalties for violating NCAA rules, would you believe a word coming out of Emmert’s mouth?

I’m not sure what’s harder to understand at this point – how Emmert still retains his position, or how people don’t laugh in his face when he spouts official bullshit like this:

“We’re working very hard with all of our colleagues to address the issues and challenges to ensure that college sports is still here in 2025,” Emmert said as business opened at the NCAA’s annual convention.

That doesn’t say “business as usual”, but it might as well have.

33 Comments

Filed under The NCAA

33 responses to “Sex, lies and the Freeh Report

  1. SCDawg

    Senator, you were right then and you still are now. Anyone who argued that the NCAA was overrearching was absolutley pilloried at the time, but what was so ridiculous to me was how the NCAA used powers it didn’t have to institute sanctions it couldn’t impose so that it would look better in the media-oh and grab a quick $50 million in the process. All from a state institution that probably didn’t have the power to give taxpayer money away to the NCAA in the first place.

    Emmert should have let the courts and the forum of public opinion handle this. Seriously, he made PSU administrators and officials who may have looked the other way while children were molested look like the victims in the whole thing. Emmert is simply a self-important, self-righteous asshat.

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  2. Doug

    “Jerry Sandusky was a monster and Penn State should be ashamed of itself for coddling him” is such a layup statement that you’d have to be an absolute incompetent boob to get it wrong — and yet Mark Emmert managed. I’m kind of in awe.

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  3. oooh sure…now you are all just rubbing it in with all that “he should follow an established process and stop walking around in a cowboy suit layin down the law like he was at the OK corral”

    “but there was certainly a majority sense that one of the possibilities here clearly should be the imposition of a stop in play.”..boy that’s political doubletalk if I’ve ever heard it.

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  4. Scorpio Jones, III

    “the forum of public opinion handle this.”

    I was certainly one of the “Do something to Penn State now” crowd at the time and I thought and still think the forum of public opinion handed down its opinion.

    I have no sympathy for the Penn State administrators who, it would appear, allowed Emmert to badger them. These administrators had, it seems to me, every opportunity to poll the members of the executive committee themselves, which they apparently did not do.

    To me, the real clinker in all this fire is that Joe Paterno took the easy way out. I see a lot more fire from his supporters about re-instating his wins than anything else.

    Yet is there any doubt at all that Paterno could have, at any time, handled this situation quickly, quietly and effectively if had just done so?

    I remember thinking at the time that Paterno was, arguably, the most powerful man in the state of Pennsylvania and what he did with the problem was to kick it upstairs to the president of Penn State…who nobody knew outside Happy Valley.

    Was it a headline grab by Emmert…probably. Is there considerable evidence Emmert is a “misleading, mean mistreating fuckwit?

    Yes.

    Hell, as best I can tell, the NCAA has done a lot of talking about what to do with the probably illegal fine they levied on Penn State, but what they have actually done with the money is nothing…other than collect interest.

    One thing Blutarsky and I certainly do agree on is a sense of wonder and amazement that Emmert is still employed by the membership of the NCAA.

    The Penn State thing was something that, God alone knows, I hope never happens anywhere, even Auburn, again.

    Maybe, just maybe, the NCAA’s handling of the situation, misleading statements aside, has made it less likely a powerful person at another university would dodge this or another equally egregious issue.

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    • SCDawg

      “Maybe, just maybe, the NCAA’s handling of the situation, misleading statements aside, has made it less likely a powerful person at another university would dodge this or another equally egregious issue”

      I would respectfully disagree, as everything that the NCAA did to Penn State in the first place, which it did without authority and essentially at gunpoint through false statements about the possible punishments it was prepared to mete out, is unravelling as we speak.

      It’s one thing for a judge to sentence a person to prison for something a person did. It’s another thing for the clerk of court to do it, even if that person might deserve to go to prison. To me it’s always been about the power and authority to act, and the NCAA didn’t have it, and just bluffed PSU into agreeing to whatever. And it was never about justice for victims, it was simply about public appearance.

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      • Scorpio Jones, III

        I understand your point of view, as I understood that point of view when the NCAA took action.

        I will admit the NCAA over-reached, but I prefer to think that these things you maintain are wrong were done for good reasons in the face of horrific crimes that had gone unadjudicated for years, decades. With horrible consequences for the victims.

        Surely you agree something drastic was warranted?

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        • James

          If the NCAA actually believes the punishment will prevent future child abuse, they wouldn’t be unrolling every single punishment as we speak, because under the first assumption that would be having the opposite affect.

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        • SCDawg

          Sure. But the NCAA is not the body I want taking that drastic action about this. We’re talking about an organization that is supposed to prevent competitors from cheating and organize basketball tournaments. The NCAA is not the police or the courts, and allowing it to do this is just too slippery a slope for me, and the ends didn’t justify the means. If they did, we wouldn’t see everything the NCAA did here coming undone.

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    • James

      “Yet is there any doubt at all that Paterno could have, at any time, handled this situation quickly, quietly and effectively if had just done so?”

      There’s actually a lot of doubt about exactly who knew what. Keep in mind the DA cleared the initial investigation, and Paterno knew about the issue and that he was (incorrectly) cleared of wrongdoing.

      “…and what he did with the problem was to kick it upstairs to the president of Penn State…who nobody knew outside Happy Valley.”

      The PSU prez was an inch away from joining Obama’s cabinet, he was a very capable person and considered one of the best in the country at his job. Besides, there’s a lot of doubt about what he knew as well.

      “The Penn State thing was something that, God alone knows, I hope never happens anywhere, even Auburn, again.”

      We all obviously agree, and this is the biggest failing of the NCAA in my opinion, because answer this: What the hell did the NCAA do to help secure that? Everyone involved at PSU was fired on the spot, basically, which they all deserved for allowing a situation where no one acted to stop something horrible, even if they didn’t know everything, they didn’t design a system where they were filled in. The problem is that the narrative put on by the NCAA is that they covered it up, when in reality it could have just been incompetence. Both fireable offenses, but very different. But it let the NCAA off the hook, because instead of addressing a complicated leadership position, they can just say don’t cover up child abuse, which isn’t a controversial stance, and allows for maximum grandstanding.

      And for anyone who things this can’t happen again, look at how much institutional power football has at Alabama, and more recently Michigan. There’s nothing institutionalized that lowers the risk of leadership failure at all, just proof that if you cover it up the NCAA will take a pound of flesh, which, again, isn’t a controversial stance.

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      • Scorpio Jones, III

        I am not sure, exactly, what we are ah…discussing, James. It appears to me that right or wrong, the NCAA did something and it was the gift that keeps on giving…all over the sports media, the blogosphere, etc.

        Truth is, I could not care less whether the NCAA had the authority to do what it did, or whether Mark Emmert misled anybody in the Penn State administration.

        What I do care about is that finally, after something like 15 years, the problem at Penn State was corrected. And Penn State has suffered what I hope to be irreparable public harm for its sins.

        Surely you are not saying that the then president of Penn State had a higher profile than Joe Paterno?

        When I say I understand Blutarsky’s point of view, I do. Any lawyer could look at what the NCAA did and scream bloody murder.

        And what you say about the potential for institutional corruption at other places is also true. Certainly the more the tail wags the dog the more the chances for abuse and the old saw about absolute power and so forth.

        Again, the methods may have been wrong. Some, or all, of the participants in the NCAA’s circus may be asshats and these asshats may have been acting for all the wrong reasons.

        But at the end of the day I very much suspect that if there are rumors about bad things happening in Happy Valley, Penn State’s administrative overlords will not forget to take the keys away.

        And that college administrators everywhere, including football coaches, will take more time to figure out what the fuck is going on in their locker rooms. And do something about it.

        That’s all that matters….to me.

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  5. Keese

    So basically Mark Emmert is a lying idiot that should lose his job.

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  6. Hogbody Spradlin

    So, not only is Emmert a bullshitter, he’s a drama queen bullshitter.

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  7. Cousin Eddie

    Does Emmert survive this?

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    • He’s survived everything else.

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      • In UGA parlance, it’s quite Adamsesque…

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        • That is a disgusting claim.

          Hate Adams for whatever you want, but he is not an evil monster like Paterno and crew.

          Paterno and crew KNOWINGLY allowed a child molester to continue to use their facilities to entice and rape children. They are the very definition of an accomplice.

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          • Scorpio Jones, III

            But Muckie, they told Sandusky he could not use the gym…did not take his keys, but they did something…that amounted to not one fucking thing.

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            • but they did something…that amounted to not one fucking thing.

              Yup.

              They make me sick.

              Their football program should not even exist any more.

              If this had happened at UGA, I’d want all wins revoked and I wouldn’t even object to the end of the program. I’d never want to be associated with the vile evil they were engaged in at PSU.

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  8. Dog in Fla

    “We’re working very hard with all of our colleagues to address the issues and challenges to ensure that college sports is still here in 2025,” Emmert said

    I know where Emmert got that 2025 idea from

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  9. Aside from the lying the real problem is that Emmert acted without proper authorization. There was a process in place in the NCAA Constitution and Bylaws that was supposed to be followed and it wasn’t. The only legitimate way to deviate from that process, under the NCAA Constitution and Bylaws, was for all the member schools of the NCAA to vote to do so. Emmert didn’t seek that as he would have had to wait for the next national meeting and he wanted this done ASAP because he wanted to go to the Olimpics without the Penn State mattter hanging over his head. So he talked to some of his cronies about iwhat to do and it appears didn’t really even get firm authorization from them. If the last year or so has taught is anything, the NCAA doesn’t fare too well in court. This case is a big loser for the NCAA and Emmert better settle this or else the State of Pennsylvania will end up owning the NCAA. Emmert needs to go since he has repeatedly shown that he does not have the gravitas to be President.

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    • Well he might not have gravitas but he sure has a virulent case of the ultra vires.

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    • Dog in Fla

      “he does not have the gravitas to be President.”

      But every time he passes through the NCAA Bunker waiting room, he stares at his portrait telling himself, “Nailed it!”

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    • Chadwick

      Well put. The crimes were heinous, but the NCAA acted outside their own established and codified boundaries in their investigation and punishment of PSU. This group of idiots should never be allowed to do that! you’re simply asking for trouble to not make these fools stick to their prescribed power and protocols. Hated what transpired at Penn State, but NCAA went way outside the lines. Should’ve been left to the criminal and civil courts.

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  10. It really is such a shame that psu was as inept at preventing rape when they were the victim as when it was the children. It’s just terrible. Couldn’t Emmett see that psu wasn’t so much complicit as incompetent and refrain from aiming for penetration? I mean the real lesson to be learned is abject incompetence is a defense to all sorts of things. Then we just use mental retards as administrators and let the schools do whatever because accountability must be avoided for the defenseless. I mean if psu were competent enough to have taken care of their obligations as to Sandusky then obviously they would have been competent enough to know that Emmett was bluffing right? I think that there’s a lesson there if you’re trying to find one.

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  11. A10Penny

    How in the hell can they have read the Freeh report and not vote for the death penalty? Oh wait, they didn’t read it.

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  12. DawgPhan

    now looks like PSU gets their Joe Pa wins back.

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  13. Emmert, in testimony in advance of a trial set for next month, says there was a “very strong consensus” on the 22-member NCAA executive committee to impose a multi-year death penalty as part of the school’s punishment

    I really wish they’d done that. PSU would not have recovered so quickly from a couple years of death penalty.

    But now, with sheeple’s memories so short, they have no trouble getting coaches, recruits, and wins. It is like nothing happened.

    These evil bastards got away with it. They cared more about football wins than children being raped, and now they got away with it.

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  14. AusDawg85

    I’d be damned ashamed if I were a PSU alum, but I suspect few are. And you just know Franklin’s going to find some stud QB who breeze’s them through a weak B1G schedule, catches tOSU by surprise and gets them in the playoffs.

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