The following appears to be a phone call transcript recorded by the NCAA offices on July 20, 2012 at 3:48pm EST.
(phone rings twice)
VOICE OF DEBORAH BOOKER (Assistant to Mark Emmert, NCAA President): Good afternoon, you’ve reached the penthouse of Supreme Chancellor Emmert. May I take a message?
VOICE OF RODNEY ERICKSON (President, Pennsylvania State University): Hey Debbie, it’s Rod.
ERICKSON: No, Rod Erickson.
ERICSON: Don’t sound so excited.
BOOKER: Sorry – it’s just that you…I mean he…the other Rod…never called me back after…well, never mind.
ERICKSON: I see. No, I’m the one who talked to you yesterday while your boss was on the golf course.
BOOKER: You are?
ERICKSON: Yeah. You know, you took down a message for him about helping me out with my little, ahem…situation. Remember?
BOOKER: Oh. Right.
ERICKSON: Has he said anything about it yet?
ERICKSON: You did give him the message, didn’t you?
BOOKER: Well, kind of, but you used a lot of words and the Supreme Chancellor…
ERICKSON: Before you finish, I wanted to ask: What’s with this whole "Supreme Chancellor" thing, anyway?
BOOKER: Oh, it’s just something he likes me to call him.
BOOKER: Seriously. He goes on and on about how he used to be chancellor at LSU, and how ‘chancellor’ sounds so much cooler than ‘president,’ blah, blah, blah.
BOOKER: I know! Right? But, like, when he gets mad, his face puffs up like a blowfish and turns bright red. It’s kind of scary.
ERICKSON: Like a giant, angry tomato?
BOOKER: Yes! Totally!
ERICKSON: You’re not the first person to make that comparison.
ERICKSON: (sighs) Anyway, Debbie, I was wondering if he was planning to call me back any time soon?
BOOKER: I don’t know. He probably didn’t read it.
ERICKSON: What? Debbie, this is kind of important.
BOOKER: The Supreme Chancellor doesn’t have time to read.
ERICKSON: What? (muted, unintelligible mumbling). Well, this is really important.
BOOKER: Maybe you should just talk to him about it then.
ERICKSON: Good idea. (slapping sound heard)
BOOKER: May I take a message?
ERICKSON: Is he going to read it?
BOOKER: Probably not.
ERICKSON: Then probably not.
BOOKER: OK, then I’ll just put you through to his desk.
ERICKSON: Thank you! (sighs)
VOICE OF MARK EMMERT (President, NCAA): Rise, my young apprentice.
ERICKSON: Umm…ohhh kayyy….
EMMERT: Wait…who is this?
ERICKSON: No, the other one.
EMMERT: Oh. You.
ERICKSON: Don’t sound so excited.
EMMERT: Don’t take it personally. It’s just that…well, all this stuff in the news is so…
EMMERT: Yeah. That.
ERICKSON: How the hell do you think I feel?
EMMERT: Why the hell do you think I care?
ERICKSON: Good point. Anyway, did you happen to get my message from yesterday?
EMMERT: What message?
ERICKSON: The one Debbie wrote down for me.
EMMERT: Oh. I don’t know, Rod, she said you used a lot of words…
ERICKSON: Yes, she mentioned that. Hell of an assistant, that one.
EMMERT: Isn’t she? LSU grad, top honors.
ERICKSON: Explains a lot. Anyway, about my message…
EMMERT: Yeah, sorry, Rod, but you know how I don’t like to read things.
ERICKSON: It doesn’t matter, now that I have you on the line, I wanted to talk to you about my little situation…
EMMERT: Oh, shit. Not another intern?
ERICKSON: What? No! Why would you think…?
EMMERT: Well, after Bobby’s last one…
ERICKSON: Bobby? Who the fuh…oh…Petrino?
EMMERT: Yeah, your coach. He’s in trouble, right?
ERICKSON: Pa-ter-no, you tomato head!
EMMERT: You say Petrino, I say Paterno…
ERICKSON: (grunts in frustration) Joe Paterno. Penn State. And yes, we got trouble.
EMMERT: Then I’d suggest you fire him before things get out of hand.
ERICKSON: He’s dead!
EMMERT: Jesus, Rod, I said fire him, not kill him. We’re going to need to circle the wagons on this A-SAP. Debbie? Debbie! Fire up the shredder…
ERICKSON: What the hell? Nobody killed anybody. Calm the hell down.
EMMERT: Are you sure?
EMMERT: Then what the hell is this whole scandal thing about?
ERICKSON: (sighs heavily) Jerry Sandusky. That whole sex-with-boys thing. You know, the ‘icky’ stuff? How can you not be up to speed on this?
EMMERT: I told you, I don’t like to read.
ERICKSON: I know, but it’s been all over the news.
EMMERT: News, schmooze. I make the news around here.
ERICKSON: OK, then let’s back up. Jerry Sandusky, former coach under Joe Paterno, convicted on 45 counts related to child molestation…
ERICKSON: …then last week, Louis Freeh puts out that damned report – a total waste of University funds, mind you – and I’ve got everyone from CNN to ESPN calling me to tear down Paterno’s statue…
EMMERT: You guys have a statue? That is soooo cool. Hold on! (pause) Debbie? Debbie! I have an idea…
ERICKSON: Mark! Please focus!
EMMERT: Sorry, it’s just that we have the perfect spot out in front of the building…
ERICKSON: Later, please?
EMMERT: Fine. Go on…
ERICKSON: Anyway, it’s like the Freeh report is being taken as the Gospel, even though nobody’s even bothering to read the damned thing.
EMMERT: A lot of words?
ERICKSON: Yeah, it’s like 267 pages.
EMMERT: Well, there you go.
ERICKSON: (sounds of eyeballs rolling in a skull) Anyway…the report was never intended to be definitive, but now we’re stuck with it, and the entire world seems to have gone ape-shit against our culture, our football program, Joe’s statue, and just about everything else related to Penn State.
EMMERT: You guys commissioned the damned report, didn’t you?
ERICKSON: Well, yes.
EMMERT: So what the hell did you expect?
ERICKSON: I don’t know…due process? Fairness? Objectivity? Reasonable doubt?
EMMERT: Okay, I don’t know what three of those things mean, but I’ve heard about that ‘fairness’ thing before and people tell me it’s a joke.
ERICKSON: You should have heard of it; it’s what the NCAA is supposed to maintain throughout intercollegiate athletics!
EMMERT: Oh. Good to know. So anyway, why is this my problem?
ERICKSON: Well, the angry mob is coming after the NCAA now, too. They think you should impose the death penalty on our football program.
ERICKSON: What’s so funny?
EMMERT: Nothing…I was just thinking…OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!
ERICKSON: (some sort of angry, unintelligible prayer)
EMMERT: Sorry, I’ve always wanted to say that. Anyway, continue.
ERICKSON: They say that the ‘Penn State football culture’ is corrupt, which is bullshit. I’m already going to have to tear down the statue and make the students change their little tent city to "Nittanyville" or some other pansy-ass name. But a pound of flesh won’t be enough…the angry mob is going to pressure you into suspending our program if we don’t do something about it first.
EMMERT: Well, we can’t have that. You guys are a friggin’ monstrous cash cow for us.
ERICKSON: (lengthy sigh) Now what?
EMMERT: ‘Pound of flesh.’
ERICKSON: Oh, for Christ’s sake…
EMMERT: Sorry. Okay…serious now. How can I help.
ERICKSON: You have to save Penn State football.
EMMERT: How am I supposed to do that? Especially if they’re coming after me next...
ERICKSON: You have to punish us.
EMMERT: Oooh. I like the sound of that. Bad football team! Bad!
ERICKSON: I’m serious! You have to punish us and you have to punish us badly.
EMMERT: Hmm…yeah, I don’t get it.
ERICKSON: Look, you’ll have to do it anyway, but if you do it now, and do it in some harsh and unprecedented way, you’ll be able to save face.
EMMERT: I do like my face. But what’s in it for me?
ERICKSON: Ok, let me try it this way: You’ll look big and tough and powerful to the rest of the football teams and you’ll get to be on TV.
EMMERT: Awesome! I’m SO totally there.
ERICKSON: The sanctions have to be tough enough that people will pity us and question your right to impose them in the first place. But not so bad that we can’t get good recruits. So we have to stay on TV. I’m thinking bowl bans, scholarship losses, maybe vacating some wins. And we’ll throw in a massive ‘fine’ which will be money we were going to give to charity anyway.
EMMERT: Seems reasonable. I’m gonna look so awesome on ESPN…
ERICKSON: And then I’ll play it like I had a gun to my head.
EMMERT: Whoa! Whoa! Nobody said anything about guns…Debbie? Debbie!
ERICKSON: A virtual gun to my head, then. As in, you were going to kill the program for four years if I didn’t agree. That’ll keep the alumni from bitching about appeals, which would just drag this thing out forever…
EMMERT: Oh, I get it…but won’t this still be hurting your football team?
ERICKSON: No! That’s the coolest part. If you do this, it will galvanize the team, unify the community, and energize the fan base. It’ll be *all* about football again. Sure, we’ll lose a few players here and there, but we’ll survive…
EMMERT: Right – not like any of the good players jump ship in these situations anyway.
ERICKSON: Exactly. And by condemning the football team and the football culture, you’ll push it right back into the forefront.
EMMERT: So, no more talk about the ‘icky’ stuff?
ERICKSON: Now you’re catching on. They’ll quit talking about Sandusky’s victims and they’ll quit focusing on dead coaches and fired university officials. It’ll all come back to football, the way it’s always been. And it gets the press off the NCAA’s back, and prevents you from having to go through with a full investigation.
EMMERT: Is this what they call a win-win kind of thing?
ERICKSON: Right. You can just use the Freeh report summary as your justification and the media will swallow it hook, line, and sinker.
EMMERT: So…are there a lot of words in this ‘summary’ thing?
ERICKSON: Never mind…just use a lot of big words like ‘unprecedented’ and ‘moral failure.’
ERICKSON: How about I write down everything you need to say at the press conference, OK? We’ll call it a ‘consent decree.’
EMMERT: Awesome. And when will I be dropping the hammer?
ERICKSON: Let’s shoot for Monday. I have to schedule the OPP crew to bring down the statue first. That’ll get the alumni fired up and vulnerable. Then, when you..ahem…’drop the hammer’ on Monday, they’ll have a lot of pent-up anger to refocus.
EMMERT: Sounds like a plan.
EMMERT: You should change your name to Stan.
ERICKSON: (pause) What?
EMMERT: You know, so you could be Stan the Man. The Man with the Plan.
EMMERT: You feeling OK…Stan?
ERICKSON: I’m fine. (muted sobbing) I’ll email the press release to you before the end of the weekend.
EMMERT: Okeedokee. Anything else?
ERICKSON: Just one more thing. You still have any connections at LSU?
EMMERT: Of course. What do you need?
ERICKSON: Well, we’ve got this quarterback hogging one of our scholarships…and with the sanctions and all, well, we’ll need to thin the herd a little. I think he’d be a real good fit for the Tigers.
EMMERT: Consider it done.
ERICKSON: Thanks. For everything, that is. We’re saving Penn State football. It’s a good thing.
EMMERT: Blah, blah, blah. Too many words. (muted woman’s voice in the background) Oooh…gotta run, Stan. My four o’clock massage appointment just arrived. See ya. (click)
ERICKSON: Dear God, what have I done? (click)
(end of call)