Beginning at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday morning, that was the word that was being used to describe the penalties that the NCAA was planning on handing down to Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal and the cover-up that took place afterwards. Still, the word didn't hold much meaning. This was new ground that the NCAA was tackling. Penn State had committed no real violations. The punishment was due solely to the by-laws that speak of university ethics, by-laws that had never been used to merit punishment to a university.
Penalties at either end of the extreme would have been unprecedented. If the NCAA would have handed down the death penalty to Penn State, it would have been unprecedented. If the NCAA would have told Penn State to wash the dishes and take out the trash for a whole month, it would have been unprecedented. Any penalty would have been unprecedented.
24 hours later at a podium in Indianapolis, NCAA president Mark Emmert and Oregon State president Ed Ray crippled the Penn State football program for years to come. A $60 million fine. A four-year postseason ban. A reduction to 65 scholarship players by 2014. A free-agent market on all Penn State current players and committments who had the ability to leave at will and continue their collegiate careers wherever they chose immediately. Unprecedented, alright.
With the penalty, the NCAA put every other university under its jurisdiction on notice. On the field, off the field, it doesn't matter. Mess up and we'll come after you. But, will they?
"Hero worship and winning at all costs. You gotta address that." - Mark Emmert
To put it in no uncertain terms, college sports are royally screwed up right now. At Penn State, Emmert asserted his power to bypass all due process to make sure a message was sent. Penn State did not respond to the NCAA's request for information. The case was not brought in front of the NCAA infractions committee. The NCAA did not perform their own investigation. Emmert decided that the Freeh Report was evidence enough to become the judge, jury and executioner of Penn State football.
It is my hope that Emmert is true to his word. Address the moral and ethic lapses in college sports. Investigate everyone. Allow me to help. Here's a list of places to start.
- The University of Montana, where 80 rapes of women were committed in three years, some by football players and where the school's president threatened to discipline one victim for speaking out about it.
- Your golden goose, Notre Dame, where a football player raped a girl from a neighboring university and she later committed suicide because no one would listen to her story.
- Syracuse, where we still don't know how many ballboys Bernie Fine may or may not have sexually assaulted while he was an assistant coach or if Jim Boeheim knew anything about it.
- Arkansas, where coach Bobby Petrino's mistress got a job in the athletic department and several gifts from Petrino and different lump sum payments from the university.
The message given by Mark Emmert. And to change the culture of college football, he made every Penn State football player a free agent. Seniors can be recruited again and vultures from all across the nation had to simply send a fax to the Penn State compliance department to tell which players they would be contacting.
To clarify, I would fault no player for wanting to leave Penn State during these turbulent times. There are many other schools with great football programs that these student-athletes could get a great education at. After talking on the Dan Patrick Show today, though, it seems like Bill O'Brien is doing everything in his power to have kids stay at Penn State and doing a great job at it.
So let's take a look. Did the NCAA's penalty provide that wake-up call to college coaches to change the culture?
Spoke to a coach at a major program. Said he expects many schools are faxing to PSU entire roster of names they are gonna recruit.— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) July 23, 2012
College coaches in a feeding frenzy to recruit Penn State players in wake of NCAA sanctions. My story: bit.ly/P4bTQ6— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) July 23, 2012
Heard from a coach this morning who said his school got contacted by 5 penn state commits yesterday.— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) July 24, 2012
In the end, I see what the NCAA was trying to do here. A reform of all college athletics. Making sure schools do good and well by their student-athletes. And yes, they overstepped their bounds, but isn't that how most great things have been accomplished?
But will it continue? Will the NCAA investigate every school putting athletics over the rest of the constituents they serve? Or will they punish Penn State and hope everyone else learns their lesson like they wished giving SMU the death penalty would stop recruiting violations?
I can see it being the latter. Sweeping other things under the rug after one big splash. You know, like a publicly lauded, grandstanding cover-up.
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