A Hard Lesson Learned from Penn State’s Fall
The Pilot (Southern Pines, NC)
31 July 2012
Members of Penn State’s class of 2013 may be grandparents by the time the Nittany Lions’ football program once again achieves anything resembling the glory days of “Linebacker U” under coach Joe Paterno.
But never again will Penn State be that institution highly respected for the integrity of its major college football operation.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association made sure that Penn State will suffer for decades when it severely penalized the university and its football program last Monday because men in charge, including Paterno, covered up the horrendous criminality of a pedophile, Jerry Sandusky.
The former defensive coordinator on Paterno’s coaching staff was convicted last month of molesting numerous children on the Penn State campus and elsewhere for years and years.
Then the Louis Freeh report issued by that former FBI director claimed Paterno and the university president, Graham Spanier, knew about these criminal acts since 1998 and chose to cover them up in order to prevent bad publicity about the highly regarded Penn State football program. It was this report that was the basis for the NCAA action.
The totally shattered and apparently mythical image of Penn State perfection has been replaced with despondency among university students while the new football coach, Bill O’Brien, tries to exude confidence in rebuilding from the ashes of disgrace. And he keeps hoping other major college football powers, acting like circling vultures, do not strip his team of its best players who, by NCAA decree, are eligible to transfer to other colleges where they can play immediately.
This heavy sentence and shocking fall from great respect to great disgrace has created some sympathy for Penn State’s football players, students, faculty members, alumni and administrators who had nothing to do with the child molesting scandal.
But those who have watched football and Paterno gain immense power and sway over all things on campus feel little sympathy for Penn State.
Time to Join the Real World
It is time for the Nittany Lions to come out of isolation and delusion and join the real world, which will no longer tolerate them bragging about how good they are.
Instead, where is the sympathy for Sandusky’s many victims, those boys who are now men who had their childhood destroyed by rape? No one should waste sympathy on a huge, rich and mismanaged institution such as Penn State, where unknown numbers of children were attacked by this predator on the campus of that hide-away university.
Does anyone really believe that Sandusky suddenly started molesting boys at age 54 in 1998? It is much more likely he had been doing those terrible things for years while he served more than three decades as Paterno’s right hand man on the coaching staff.
Football was too powerful at Penn State, and so these things could not be exposed, according to men in authority. The result was degradation and criminality of a nature never seen before on an American campus.
That is why the NCAA handed down a stiff sentence against Penn State, starting with a $60 million fine. All of that money is to go to organizations that assist abused children.
Then came a four-year ban against postseason bowl games for Penn State starting this season.
Also, Penn State may award only 15 full athletic scholarships to entering freshman football players, instead of the usual 25, for four years starting in 2013.
Beginning with the 2014 season and lasting four years or through the 2017 season, Penn State may have only 65 full scholarship players on its football team instead of the usual 85 allowed in major or Division I Bowl Championship Series institutions.
The NCAA also vacated Penn State’s last 111 victories under Joe Paterno, those from 1998 through 2011. Thus Paterno no longer ranks as the winningest major college football coach, as he now is credited with only 298 victories instead of 409. Penn State tore down the statue of Paterno outside Beaver Stadium. Brown University, Paterno’s alma mater, removed his name from two annual athletic/academic awards it presents to worthy students.
The Big Ten Conference also penalized Penn State by not allowing the university to share in that conference’s bowl revenue for the next four years. This amounts to about $13 million every year for each of the league’s 12 members. Penn State’s share will also be used to assist abused children.
Will They Get The Message?
But even though the NCAA laid out a stringent set of punishments against Penn State, the university is still going to be able to play football games and do so before home crowds of well over 100,000 in Beaver Stadium. The Nittany Lions have not been banned from appearing on television, and the new coaching staff remains intact.
Penn State will open its 2012 season in just 34 days on Sept. 1 against Ohio University before one of those huge Beaver Stadium crowds.
The Nittany Lions are going to keep making money in the big business of college football, even though it will be considerably less than in recent years.
Penn State will be hurt down the road by losing many football games during the next 10 years or so because Penn State is going to be undermanned when going up against some of the nation’s strongest teams, such as Ohio State, Michigan and Nebraska in the Big Ten. This can seriously impact recruiting.
For this reason, Penn State should drop out of the Big Ten Conference. It never belonged there anyway. Now that it is not going to share in the league’s great riches, why should the Nittany Lions be the practice dummies for Indiana and Northwestern as well as Ohio State?
Unfortunately, when Mark Emmert, president of the NCAA, announced the Penn State penalties last Monday at a nationally televised press conference, there was such sanctimony and hypocrisy to the whole procedure that one did not know whether to laugh or push the mute button.
Throughout his presentation, Emmert kept emphasizing how these penalties are meant to change the culture and attitude at Penn State so that football is no longer more important than academics. He said he expected these penalties and the criminal acts to send a message to all other major college football colleges and universities that they should also tone down their football-over-academics attitudes.
Who was he kidding?
Maybe Penn State will get the message because that is where the sanctions fall. But does anyone expect Louisiana State University or the University of Washington, two institutions where Emmert served as CEO in the past, to de-emphasize football?
The NCAA presidents of major football institutions who approved these penalties before Emmert made them public are the same people who just a few weeks ago finally approved a major college football playoff system to determine the national championship team. This will add millions and millions of dollars to already bulging bank accounts of major college athletic departments.
The NCAA is in the business of helping these powers make more money any way possible at the expense of the free labor provided by kids who are supposed to be students. The NCAA and its institutions favor multi-million dollar salaries for head football and basketball coaches while distinguished professors earn a tiny fraction of that. A coach is paid more than the university CEO.
For Emmert and the NCAA to hope for less emphasis on major college football around the country just because Penn State got slapped down quite hard is like trying to put toothpaste back in the tube.
Gordon White served 43 years as a sports reporter for The New York Times. His email is sports@ thepilot.com.
National Collegiate Athletic Association
[25 July 2012]
$60 million fine. The NCAA imposes a $60 million fine, equivalent to the approximate average of one year’s gross revenues from the Penn State football program, to be paid over a five-year period beginning in 2012 into an endowment for programs preventing child sexual abuse and/or assisting the victims of child sexual abuse. The minimum annual payment will be $12 million until the $60 million is paid. The proceeds of this fine may not be used to fund programs at the University. No current sponsored athletic team may be reduced or eliminated in order to fund this fine.
Four-year postseason ban. The NCAA imposes a four-year postseason ban on participation in postseason play in the sport of football, beginning with the 2012-2013 academic year and expiring at the conclusion of the 2015-2016 academic year. Therefore, the University’s football team shall end its 2012 season and each season through 2015 with the playing if its last regularly scheduled, in-season contest and shall not be eligible to participate in any postseason competition, including a conference championship, any bowl game, or any postseason playoff competition.
Four-year reduction of grants-in-aid. For a period of four years commencing with the 2013-2014 academic year and expiring at the conclusion of the 2016-2017 academic year, the NCAA imposes a limit of 15 initial grants-in-aid (from a maximum of 25 allowed) and for a period of four years commencing with the 2014-2015 academic year and expiring at the conclusion of the 2017-2018 academic year a limit of 65 total grants-in-aid (from a maximum of 85 allowed) for football during each of those specified years. In the event the total number of grants-in-aid drops below 65, the University may award grants-in-aid to non-scholarship student-athletes who have been members of the football program as allowed under Bylaw 18.104.22.168.6.
Five years of probation. The NCAA imposes this period of probation, which will include the appointment of an on-campus, independent Integrity Monitor and periodic reporting as detailed in the Corrective Component of this Consent Decree. Failure to comply with the Consent Decree during this probationary period may result in additional, more severe sanctions.
Vacation of wins since 1998. The NCAA vacates all wins of the Penn State football team from 1998 to 2011. The career record of Coach “Joe” Paterno will reflect the vacated records.
Waiver of transfer rules and grant-in-aid retention. Any entering or returning football student-athlete will be allowed to immediately transfer and will be eligible to immediately compete at the transfer institution, provided he is otherwise eligible. Any football student-athlete who wants to remain at the University may retain his athletic grant-in-aid, as long as he meets and maintains applicable academic requirements, regardless of whether he competes on the football team.
Individual penalties to be determined. The NCAA reserves the right to initiate a formal investigatory and disciplinary process and impose sanctions on individuals after the conclusion of any criminal proceedings related to any individual involved.
Adoption of all recommendations presented in Chapter 10 of the Freeh Report. The NCAA requires the university to adopt all recommendations for reform delineated in Chapter 10 of the Freeh Report. The university shall take all Reasonable steps to implement the recommendations in spirit and substance by December 31, 2013.
Implementation of Athletics Integrity Agreement. The Freeh Report includes a number of recommendations related to the University’s athletics department. Specifically, in Chapter 10, Section 5.0, the report addresses the integration of the athletics department into the greater university community. Within 10 days of this consent decree, the university will be required to enter into an “Athletics Integrity Agreement” (AIA) with the NCAA and the Big Ten Conference, which obligates the University to adopt all of the recommendations in Section 5.0 of the Free Report as described in the above paragraph and, at a minimum, the following additional actions:
Compliance Officer for Athletics. Establish and select an individual for a position of a compliance officer or equivalent who is, at a minimum, responsible for the ethical and compliance obligations of the athletics department.
Compliance Council. Create a Compliance Council (or Council Subcommittee) composed of faculty, senior university administrators and the compliance officer for athletics, which shall be responsible for review and oversight of matters related to ethical, legal and compliance obligations of the athletics department.
Disclosure Program. Create a reporting mechanism, including a hotline, for named or anonymous individuals to disclose, report or request advice on any identified issues or questions regarding compliance with (i) the AIA; (ii) the athletics department’s policies, conduct, practices or procedures or (iii) the NCAA Constitution, bylaws or the principles regarding institutional control, responsibility, ethical conduct and integrity reflected in the Constitution and bylaws.
Internal Accountability and Certifications. Appoint a named coach, manager or administrator for each of the university’s NCAA-sanctioned intercollegiate athletics teams who shall be assigned to monitor and oversee activities within his or her team and shall annually certify to the Compliance Council that his or her team is compliant with all relevant ethical, legal, compliance and university standards and obligations.
External Compliance Review/Certification Process. The athletics director shall annually certify to the Compliance Council, the board of trustees and the NCAA that the athletics department is in compliance with all ethical, compliance, legal and university obligations. If the department fails to earn a certification, the board of trustees ( or subcommittee thereof) or an appropriate university administrator shall take appropriate action against the athletics department, including the possibility of reduction in athletics funding.
Athletics Code of Conduct. Create or update any code of conduct or the athletics department to codify the values of honesty, integrity and civility.
Training and Education. In addition to Chapter 10, Section 5.5 of the Free Report, require all student-athletes and university employees associated with the athletics department, including faculty and staff to complete a yearly training course that addresses issues of ethics, integrity, civility, standards of conduct and reporting of violations. Each person who is required to complete training shall certify, in writing, that he or she has received such training. All training shall be overseen by the Compliance Council. The board of trustees also should receive training and education on these issues, including its relationship, role and responsibilities regarding the athletics program.
If the NCAA determines, in its sole discretion, that the university materially breached any provision of the AIA, such action shall be considered grounds for extending the term of the AIA or imposing additional sanctions, up to and including a temporary ban on participation in certain intercollegiate athletic competition and additional fines. The NCAA shall be permitted to accept as true and take into consideration all factual findings of the Freeh Report in imposing additional sanctions related to breach of the AIA and may initiate further NCA investigative and administrative proceedings. The NCAA will provide the university notice of the allegation of a material breach and an opportunity to respond, but the final determination rests with the NCAA.
Appointment of an independent Athletics Integrity Monitor for a five-year period. The NCAA requires that the university appoint an independent Athletics Integrity Monitor for a five-year period, at the university’s expense. The monitor will prepare a quarterly report to the university’s board of trustees, the Big Ten Conference, and the NCAA regarding the university’s execution and maintenance of the provisions of the AIA. The monitor will make recommendations to the university to take any steps he or she reasonably believes are necessary to comply with the terms of the AIA and to enhance compliance with NCAA rules and regulations. The Monitor will operate under the following conditions:
He or she will be selected by the NCAA, in consultation with the university and the Big Ten Conference.
He or she will have access to any university facilities, personnel and non-privileged documents and records as are reasonably necessary to assist in the execution of his or her duties. The university shall preserve all such records as directed by the monitor.
He or she will have the authority to employ legal counsel, consultants, investigators, experts and other personnel reasonably necessary to assit in the proper discharge of his or her duties. His or her expenses will be paid by the university, and the university shall indemnify and hold harmless the monitor and his or her professional advisors from any claim by any third party except for conduct: a) outside the scope of the monitor’s duties; b) undertaken in bad faith; or c) constituting gross negligence or willful misconduct.
Last Updated: Jul 25, 2012
National Collegiate Athletic Association
Penn State failures draw unprecedented NCAA sanctions
[25 July 2012]
By perpetuating a “football first” culture that ultimately enabled serial child sexual abuse to occur, The Pennsylvania State University leadership failed to value and uphold institutional integrity, resulting in a breach of the NCAA constitution and rules. The NCAA Division I Board of Directors and NCAA Executive Committee directed Association President Mark Emmert to examine the circumstances and determine appropriate action in consultation with these presidential bodies.
“As we evaluated the situation, the victims affected by Jerry Sandusky and the efforts by many to conceal his crimes informed our actions,” said Emmert. “At our core, we are educators. Penn State leadership lost sight of that.”
According to the NCAA conclusions and sanctions, the Freeh Report “presents an unprecedented failure of institutional integrity leading to a culture in which a football program was held in higher esteem than the values of the institution, the values of the NCAA, the values of higher education, and most disturbingly the values of human decency.”
As a result, the NCAA imposed a $60 million sanction on the university, which is equivalent to the average gross annual revenue of the football program. These funds must be paid into an endowment for external programs preventing child sexual abuse or assisting victims and may not be used to fund such programs at the university.
The sanctions also include a four-year football postseason ban and a vacation of all wins from 1998 through 2011. The career record of former head football coach Joe Paterno will reflect these vacated records. Penn State must also reduce 10 initial and 20 total scholarships each year for a four-year period. In addition, the NCAA reserves the right to impose additional sanctions on involved individuals at the conclusion of any criminal proceedings.
The NCAA recognizes that student-athletes are not responsible for these events and worked to minimize the impact of its sanctions on current and incoming football student-athletes. Any entering or returning student-athlete will be allowed to immediately transfer and compete at another school. Further, any football student-athletes who remain at the university may retain their scholarships, regardless of whether they compete on the team.
To further integrate the athletics department into the university, Penn State will be required to enter into an “Athletics Integrity Agreement” with the NCAA. It also must adopt all Freeh Report recommendations and appoint an independent, NCAA-selected Athletics Integrity Monitor, who will oversee compliance with the agreement.
Effective immediately, the university faces five years of probation. Specifically, the university is subject to more severe penalties if it does not adhere to these requirements or violates NCAA rules in any sport during this time period.
“There has been much speculation on whether or not the NCAA has the authority to impose any type of penalty related to Penn State,” said Ed Ray, Executive Committee chair and Oregon State president. “This egregious behavior not only goes against our rules and constitution, but also against our values.”
Because Penn State accepted the Freeh Report factual findings, which the university itself commissioned, the NCAA determined traditional investigative proceedings would be redundant and unnecessary.
“We cannot look to NCAA history to determine how to handle circumstances so disturbing, shocking and disappointing,” said Emmert. “As the individuals charged with governing college sports, we have a responsibility to act. These events should serve as a call to every single school and athletics department to take an honest look at its campus environment and eradicate the ‘sports are king’ mindset that can so dramatically cloud the judgment of educators.”
Penn State fully cooperated with the NCAA on this examination of the issues and took decisive action in removing individuals in leadership who were culpable.
“The actions already taken by the new Penn State Board of Trustees chair Karen Peetz and Penn State President Rodney Erickson have demonstrated a strong desire and determination to take the steps necessary for Penn State to right these severe wrongs,” said Emmert.
Last Updated: Jul 25, 2012