Hammered by the NCAA
Like everyone, we’re gobsmacked. Associate editor Mary Murphy and I were just discussing the NCAA’s unprecedented sanctions against Penn State, and she said, “I feel like I’m in that movie Inception, you know? When everything starts crumbling?”
Honestly, it’s felt that way around here since Nov. 4. This morning was a particular low point, though.
It wasn’t just the sanctions, although as I’m sure you know by now, they were bad enough:
- A $60 million fine to create endowments for organizations that fight child sex abuse. (This can’t be paid by cutting non-revenue sports or academic programs, the NCAA said, and Penn State doesn’t have to cut a check tomorrow. The fine can be paid over five years.) The Big Ten’s additional penalty: Penn State will not receive its share of the conference’s bowl revenues for four years. The money, estimated at $13 million, will be donated to charities that protect children.
- A four-year ban on postseason play, which includes bowl games and per the conference, the Big Ten title game.
- A four-year scholarship reduction, from 25 to 15. Penn State must keep current players on scholarship if they choose to stay here, and by 2014–15, it must be down to 65 total players on scholarship. That’s just two more than an FCS (it’ll always be Division I-AA to me) team receives. Pete Thamel of the New York Times reported that Penn State won’t be back to its full 85 scholarships until 2020. “Think about that,” he tweeted.
- All victories from 1998 to 2011 were vacated. That’s 112 fewer wins for Penn State and 111 fewer for Joe Paterno, who’s now the 12th winningest coach in college football history with 298 wins. And that prompted Evan Royster ’10 to tweet, “ah crap… so i lost every college football game i ever played in?” And, yes, the last game Paterno won, then, was 35-10 over Wisconsin on Nov. 22, 1997, and the quarterback was … Mike McQueary ’97.
- Five years of probation.
- Three measures that NCAA president Mark Emmert called “corrective”: implementing the recommendations in Chapter 10 of the Freeh report by the end of 2013; implementation of an “Athletics Integrity Agreement” with the NCAA and the Big Ten, which includes things like a compliance officer for athletics and an athlete code of conduct; and the appointment of an independent “athletic integrity officer,” who will monitor compliance and report to the NCAA.
Yeah, devastating. (Could have been worse, perhaps, because there was no TV ban.) The early reports that the NCAA would announce “unprecedented” sanctions were dead on. As Yahoo! sports investigative reporter Charles Robinson tweeted, “When we refer to the last death penalty in college football history, we can’t say SMU. We have to say Penn State. It’s worse than SMU.”
What’s also hard is hearing Oregon State president Ed Ray, chair of the NCAA’s executive committee, say of what happened at Penn State, “such egregious behavior is not only against our bylaws and constitution, but also against our value system and basic human decency.”
And listening to Emmert introduce the sanctions by saying, “There’s no action we can take that would remove [the victims'] pain and anguish. What we can do is impose sanctions that reflect both the magnitude of these terrible acts and that also ensure that Penn State will rebuild an athletic culture that went horribly awry.”
Horribly awry? Here? It’s still hard to process. For my entire life, Penn State has been a place that everyone thought did things the right away. It’s been only nine months since we learned differently. As a reporter who’s covered college sports on and off for a couple of decades, I’m not naïve. In fact, you could label me pretty cynical. But I’m having trouble wrapping my head around this, so I understand why so many of my fellow alums can’t believe it.
In the meantime, as we come to grips with this, here are a few links:
Penn State signed the consent degree, meaning it will not contest sanctions. (That’s a position, by the way, that legal expert Michael McCann disagrees with; read his tweets here.) You can click here for a PDF of the signed decree.
No one from Penn State is commenting today except for these statements from president Rodney Erickson, acting athletic director Dave Joyner, and football coach Bill O’Brien (on the same Web page with Joyner). O’Brien said in part, “I knew when I accepted the position there would be tough times ahead. But I am committed to the long term to Penn State and our student-athletes.”
Julia Kern of The Daily Collegian complied this link to Twitter reactions from current football players and recruits.
I’ll have more this afternoon comparing Penn State’s sanctions to ones received in the past by other schools.
Lori Shontz, senior editor