Some Historical Perspective on the NCAA Sanctions

July 23, 2012 at 3:58 pm 4 comments

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.

But pieces of these scandals and sanctions, it seems, tend to stay the same.

SMU, for instance.

It was the first—and only—school to receive the death penalty. SMU was paying football players: $47,000 to 13 athletes during the 1985–86 school year, and eight continued to receive payments, $14,000 in all, the next year. It was a repeat offender, having been previously been penalized six times by the NCAA. The school was barred from playing the 1987–88 season but permitted to play seven away games the following season, sparing it the harshest penalty of disbanding the team for two years. In the end, SMU cancelled that second season in its entirety, citing a lack of players.

There were concerns, as there are now at Penn State, about how the penalty would affect the rest of the university and the athletic program. (Football generated two-thirds of SMU’s $6 million athletic budget—there’s an indication of how much time has passed.) “We are concerned with the human dimension, which will include the football players … and may include the loss of employees who have not been part of the problem,” SMU interim president William Stallcup said at the time.

And there was a governor involved, too. David Barron of the Houston Chronicle published some of his old stories on his blog post after the death of former Texas Gov. Bill Clements in 2011. The gist: Clements, who was serving a three-year term as chairman of the university’s board of governors, had overruled university officials in 1985 and ordered that payments to football players continue to be made.

Then there’s USC.

This case is useful for some perspective on how quickly Penn State’s sanctions came down. A Yahoo! investigation in 2006 found that star tailback Reggie Bush and his family accepted $100,000 from agents, among other improprieties. The NCAA didn’t hand down its penalty until December 2010. USC got a two-year bowl ban and lost 30 scholarships (10 per year over a three-year period). Reading that Sunday night, I suspected Penn State’s penalties would be greater. USC also had to vacate wins, another typical NCAA punishment.

And finally, there’s Ohio State.

The Buckeyes are one of the other Big Ten schools that’s on NCAA probation, having received a one-year bowl ban after it was determined that eight players received $14,000 in cash and tattoos in exchange for jerseys and other Buckeye memorabilia. I found this one interesting because Ohio State fans complained that they were treated so much more harshly than USC had been … and USC fans complained that they had been treated so much more harshly than Ohio State was.

One last note on the unprecedented nature of the Penn State sanctions. John Infante, who writes the Bylaw Blog and whose Twitter feed I recommend for anyone interested in all things NCAA, wrote this piece Monday afternoon, explaining the differences between this case and everything that came before.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

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Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Hammered by the NCAA The NCAA Ruling and the Victims

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Anonymous  |  July 23, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    It struck me this morning listing to the NCAA special report that anyone who has ever uttered the words ‘We Are Penn State’ really needs to take action. As dumb as this sounds it might be time to join the alumni association and become somewhat active. Your school is taking a major hit, right or wrong, everyone is jumping on the bandwagon to take their piece. It might be time for those who have been a part of such a wonderful organization to hold it upright, breathe life into it and keep it afloat. It just seems like it is time for the people who hold it dear and love it to be called to action. Each individual should do something for the whole, however minor, whatever they can do. It only takes one person to make a difference, good or bad, as we have seen with Sandusky. It would be a great news story for the alumni to band together, become very proactive and take back the school.

  • 2. Jerry Mays  |  July 23, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    Is it true that Erickson did not discuss this with the Trustees? And why? NCAA is taking it out on all Penn State sports, not just football, and all of the players during 1998 and 2011. This is not right- too harsh. Penn State should contest this. The town of State College will suffer loss of business. This is not a football issue but a criminal issue. NCAA is not concerned about these young boys that were molested-they would have made State put a program in place that not let this happen again.

  • 3. Mark Griffith  |  July 23, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    As a USC fan and alum, I suggest that Penn State will both survive and prosper in the coming years. I suspect the “experts” are wrong and that Penn State will only get stronger over time. But a better sense of ethical involvement is probably good for everyone.

    I believe that the NCAA had no business punishing Penn State for the criminal acts committed. Those criminal acts did not directly involve athletics. That being said, I hope criminal prosecutors follow up and press charges where due.

    The Freeh report talked about the fact that athletics at top BCS schools has gotten bigger than the institutions. The point is that Coaches and AD’s at top schools have become laws unto themselves. There is so much money involved that traditional reporting relationships have eroded.

    The NCAA did provide for a sort of ombudsman, oversight director or independent monitor who will report to the Trustees and the NCAA. They also are requiring an Ethics Compliance officer be appointed.

    Now if the NCAA had really wanted to help this situation, they would have mandated these simple steps to ALL Division I-A programs.

  • 4. dwhirsch  |  July 24, 2012 at 10:41 am

    I thank you for this objective perspective on this matter. It is heartbreaking on so many levels. As alumni living out-of-state, my husband plan to goto as many home games as possible, to support the team, students and the town businesses.

    As alumni, we have watched helplessly as our “leadership” acted in ways that defy logic. We alumni have participated in polls/surveys, been afforded public forums to express our opinions and ask questions. When it seemed out comments were not considered in any decisions, many alumni have called for a clean wipe of administration; if it can be done for the past university president and athletic director then why not the entire BoT? None of our actions have had any effect.

    To my Alumni Association, what can we do? I have been active in several local chapters and want the best for my beloved school. Tell us how we can help shape and change the leadership moving forward.

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