Hammered by the NCAA

July 23, 2012 at 12:30 pm 11 comments

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.

We’re grieving.

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

Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

More on the Paterno Statue (With Photos) Some Historical Perspective on the NCAA Sanctions

11 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Richard  |  July 23, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    Very unhappy with my university from Day 1 of this mess, now our president and BOT has rolled over to the NCAA.

  • 2. laureninkblog  |  July 23, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    well said, Lori.

  • 3. Anonymous  |  July 23, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    This has been a hi-tech lynching from day 1, led by ESPN. Joe Paterno is being accused of knowing something in 1998 based on very flimsy evidence, two non-specific emails. It has seemed to me that there were other factors at play here beside getting justice for the molested boys. The horrific nature of the crimes committed by Sandusky have demanded some sort of retribution from the public at large, beyond Sandusky spending the rest of his life in jail. I think there are a lot of people invested in wanting to bring Penn State down because we have had a superior attitute about the clean program that we had. Because of that every decision anyone made in this sorry affair is being cast in the worst possible light, when there could have been other conclusions reached that weren’t so damning. The Freeh Report is as much opinion as it is fact. If all of the alleged cover-up is proved when Curley and Shultz come to trial then I will change my thinking on this. As of now I am a conscientious objector to what is being done to our university.

  • 4. Laurie  |  July 23, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    After careful thought and research into the so called facts that the mainstream media has kindly laid out for us, I say WHY STOP HERE at the PUNISHMENT OF INNOCENT VICTIMS!!!!!! After all, the VICTIMS DESERVE MORE!!! I have a few other recommendations for the director of the NCAA who clearly has represented that he has more power than the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES when it comes to punishing someone without due process in a court of LAW. MAY I ALSO REMIND ALL OF YOU FOLLOWERS THAT THE DIRECTOR OF THE NCAA WHO LAID DOWN THIS EVER IMPORTANT PUNISHMENT, -WORKS FOR A UNIVERSITY THAT ALSO HAS HAD NUMEROUS NCAA VIOLATIONS IN THE PAST. Forget all of that… it means absolutely nothing…. I BELIEVE HE IS CORRECT WITH HIS WISDOM THAT THE ONLY WAY FOR THE VICTIMS TO HEAL, is to destroy MORE PEOPLE in the process. Personally, I believe that Sandusky should come out of this smelling like roses! After all, he couldn’t POSSIBLY be to blame for his own ACTIONS. Someone SURELY must have been responsible for his becoming a pedaphile. I know that you’ll agree with the following recommendations, based on your own rationalization….
    now ask that all funds we have given to the Department of Engineering since 1998, be returned PROMPTLY.. as I’m almost CERTAIN they were used to KEEP THIS HORRIBLE CRIME A SECRET!!!

    1) Since you’ve basically determined that ONLY PSU and it’s FOOTBALL PROGRAM is to blame for the actions of a grown man, you must thereby strip all of the football players of their DEGREE. After all, they achieved this degree by playing on a CORRUPT TEAM and surely must be stripped of it as a direct result. How dare they try to get a degree while playing football with a corrupt team lead by a corrupt coach.

    2) Fire all of them from their current jobs, as they have used this degree from Penn State to obtain this high paying and well respectable job in the first place. Seems fair since they obtained those degrees during the years 1998 and 2011. They MUST have known SOMETHING WAS GOING ON. PUNISH THEM SEVERELY FOR NOT DOING THEIR FAIR SHARE to stop this evil SANDUSKY.

    3) Force they and their families to pay back all of the money that allowed them to PLAY football, thereby , attending one of the greatest universities in the nation as a result of a SCHOLARSHIP. The director of the NCAA has already stated that countless scholarships in the future should be lost as a result of the red carpet being rolled out by PSU football and PSU in general. Why not take away the scholarships of those who were an integral part of the football program during those ever so important YEARS. I say STICK IT TO THEM and allow their families to go into bankruptcy as a result! Who cares what happens to innocent people, WE HAVE To THINK ABOUT THE INNOCENT VICTIM Sandusky abused as a result of our bad behavior.

    4) Make damn sure you prosecute every janitor, grounds keeper, concession stand vendor and worker during those years between 1998 and 2011. How dare they not report strange behavior as a result of Sandusky taking a defenseless child to a football game!!! SHAME ON THEM as BEING ENABLERS.

    5) Punish every alumni that has given money to support the institution! After all, it was the institution and ALL of those who support it, that should PAY for the criminal activity of ONE MAN.This money almost certainly funded and paid for the football program to continue and become more powerful than this country!!!

    There! I feel so much better. NO doubt this will aid in serving as a fine example that we will NOT TOLERATE THIS SORT OF BEHAVIOR EVER AGAIN! Let’s stand by all government agencies who’s sole purpose is to PROTECT CHILDREN …. We Can’t allow them to take on this burden all by themselves…We also cannot blame our government leaders and those of the department of Justice. They have must better things to do than investigate criminal situations. They need a break every once in awhile so we need to show them that WE WILL NOT TOLERATE THIS AS A COUNTRY. We will bond together and DO THE RIGHT THING so that REAL JUSTICE IS SERVED!

    I’d also like to add that although these penalties PALE in comparison to what the VICTIMS MUST HAVE GONE THROUGH, we need to set an example for the rest of the sports community so that this type of behavior never goes unpunished AGAIN. Hopefully media will help guide us in the right direction by putting more journalists on the job to voice their OWN personal opinions. We NEED more people to stand up for what they believe.

    On a simple side note, I’d like to make sure that the entire Paterno family be prosecuted for their own support of a man who supported ALL SEX CRIMES TOWARD CHILDREN! Make sure their grandchildren know how horrible they are as well. We shouldn’t allow children to be exploited. THEY DESERVE to KNOW ThAT We ARe LOOKING OUt FOr THEIR BESt INTEreSt!!! This is no way , shape or form, should include the Sandusky family. Those walls in the house are too thick for them to ever have known that the sex abuse acts of children were going on while they slept. It’s not their fault at all so they deserve to be given the respect and privacy!

    Now for my OWN punishment:
    I reside in the Great State of FLORIDA, which proudly puts NO emphasis on football whatsoever and has very little respect for anything other than EDUCATION. I’m believe that this sort of thing would never go on this state because our college football team focuses on the importance of education and NOT wins and losses on the field. Now, you might say that kids will be kids and get arrested every once in awhile… I couldn’t agree more. Let them play football. Everyone deserves several chances to prove them self a law abiding citizen. As far as I know, there has been no NCAA rule broken at ANY of our college football programs. Penn State never had a violation of any kind but I’m almost CERTAIN, that was covered up too. EVERYONE IS BREAKING THE LAWS AND GETTING AWAY WITH IT,,,, Why should our football programs do anything differently. At LEAST our football programs didn’t HIDE A CHILD MOLESTER. That’s a far greater violation so nothing FLorida programs do could ever compare. It’s BUSINESS AS USUAL. I would also welcome any belittling from here on out, for holding a degree from Penn State’s Aerospace Engineering Department. Looking back and given the BENEFIT OF HINDSIGHT, I wish I too had done more to stop this horrible MAN and thereby I am just as GUILTY. Given the information we know in 2012 (Paterno said the same thing) I should have shot him if given the CHANCE but unfortunately, I cannot go back and look into my crystal ball when I make decisions. I should NEVER have allowed myself to attend one single football game, thereby condoning the behavior of child molesters. I should be punished severely! I know that I have no right to ask, but I would ask that all of my donations to the engineering department , since graduating in 1988, be returned promptly or at least, pay to the VICTIMS and the SUPPORT for MORE foundations to STOP CHILD SEX CRIMES. AFter all, they have done such a stellar job up until now with regard to Jerry Sandusky. I’m not too bothered by that,,, I”m sure the great governor of the state of PA has that covered.

    I will continue to pray every evening that Joe Paterno be properly sent straight to hell because after all, HE HAD THE audacity to deceive his football players into thinking that EDUCATION IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN FOOTBALL!!!!! HOW DARE HE and HOW DARE HE DIE BEFORE WE COULD KILL HIM OURSELVES!

  • 5. Hdbfly  |  July 23, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    Nowhere in your article do you mention that there were boys that were raped, at worst, and abused, at best, and that happened in the football facilities of Penn State. Can you for just one minute stop and think about what happened when four grown men protected one of their own by doing the “humane” thing for him: telling him to stop bringing boys on to campus (which was not informed at all) instead of turning the pedophile into the police. And then they allowed that man, one of their own, to commit more heinous acts on more young boys. Why didn’t they do it? For the glory of Penn State football . . . not even the glory of Penn State.

    This blind belief that Paterno was a saint has to end. And the idea that the program was “clean” is now a joke. I am an alum and I am embarrassed and appalled by the continued reverence for a football program. This is hurting Penn State and Penn Staters. It’s a university, an institution of higher learning–that is the reason why it was established in the first place. It was not established as a football franchise. If the football program were shut down right now, believe it or not, the university would go on teaching. That’s what a university is supposed to do.

    What is so horrible about this? You can’t go to bowl games? A few players will leave? But if that what worries you, then you should be able to see how skewed your priorities are.

    In the end, there’s still football on Saturdays. And there’s still little feeling for the boys and men who have to struggle with the nightmare inflicted on them by Sandusky, and enabled by the football culture of Penn State. The four may be directly responsible, but the football culture is indirectly responsible.

    It’s a game. You should all be ashamed.

  • 6. iretiredguy  |  July 23, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    Classic “Corporate B——-t”. A bunch of “suits” from the NCAA are punishing a fine university because a bunch of “suits” at that university are “a——s”. Universities are made up of students who pay good money for their education and instructors who pass on their wisdom to them. Certainly PSU has provided the venue for that for many years under different leadership. There is no reason that students and students who are athletes should suffer while the “suits” should be punishing the “suits”, individually.
    Ironically it is the quote,”Let him without sin cast the first stone”, that just may apply here. In every aspect of society there are people like Sandusky, and some even worse, but they haven’t been uncovered yet. Each organization, including the NCAA, needs to conduct a broad search for these predators in order to save our children. If background investigations were held in each nationwide organization, how many of these culprits might be found? Would the NCAA come out clean?

  • 7. Lori Shontz  |  July 23, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    To the last commenter and any others wondering:

    We are working on a post that will focus on the victims and possible effects of the sanctions on charities and organizations that work to combat child sex abuse. It’s taking some time to talk to people. There are a lot of pieces to this story, and the effect on the football team is, of course, only one of them. We’re trying to cover as much as we can.

    We’ve frequently written about child sexual abuse as a general topic and written specifically about the victims, including these pieces:

    Alumna Kristen Houser of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR), who works with child sex abuse victims, talks about victim testimony at the Sandusky trial:


    Professor Eric Silver explains why child sex abuse so often is not reported:


    A report on the efforts of Voices 4 Victims, an advocacy group:


    We’ve written probably a half-dozen other posts about RAINN, PCAR, etc., and we’ve covered the topic in our magazine, too. We hope you’ll keep reading.


  • […] I think we’ve all agreed that “unprecedented” is the word of the day. Trying to speculate what will happen to Penn State University and Penn State football is largely impossible; no one has ever had to face such extreme NCAA and Big Ten sanctions. […]

  • […] the flurry of emotions and opinions surrounding Monday’s NCAA announcement, PCAR’s Kristen Eisenbraun Houser ’93 is focused on the victims’ perspective. The […]

  • […] of the board gathered at The Penn Stater Conference Center at 5 p.m. Wednesday to discuss the unprecedented NCAA sanctions handed down Monday and the consent decree that President Rodney Erickson had signed, signaling Penn […]

  • 11. John Maiolo  |  July 30, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    I agree PSU should receive some sort of punishment for these atrocities. and Paterno must share in the blame, but once again the NCAA revealed its inconsistencies and overreaching. Why should the players, past and present, be punished? Ok NCAA so now your in it. So what are you going to do about the similar shameful sex abuse scandal, PAYOFF, and coverup at the Citadel? What are you going to do about the murder of one basketball player by another at Baylor, and the coverup by the coach? And what are you going to do about the disgraceful hazing of black college footbalyl field band members that has gone on for generations,and resulted in the death of one of them at Florida A&M University? Nothing! Nothing! But make an example of Penn State for your own political gain rather than doing what is a correct course of action.

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