NCAA goes over the top
NCAA President Mark Emmert said Monday that the institution's executive board mulled over issuing the "death penalty" to Penn State's football program due to the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal but decided that doing so would penalize too many people who had nothing to do with it. Instead, they decided on the death penalty by another name and punished those people, anyway.
Because of the apparent failure of responsible Penn State administrators to stop Mr. Sandusky, Penn State inevitably faced serious sanctions. But instead of using the opportunity to impose tough but fair sanctions and to direct the resources of a great university into a truly effective effort to combat child sexual abuse, the NCAA expanded the scope of its own authority and merely dropped the hammer.
Remarkably, nothing in the NCAA's own bylaws authorize the action it took Monday. Rather than conducting its own investigation, which would allow an opportunity for the subject institution to present a defense, the NCAA ruled summarily after investing itself with the power to do so. In doing so, it responded to public emotion rather than to the mission for which it was created. Going forward, it will be interesting to see if the NCAA attempts to inject itself into other criminal and civil investigations that touch upon college sports.
Without an investigation of its own, the NCAA stepped outside of its own procedures and accepted as gospel the internal investigation conducted by Louis Freeh, which was not meant to be a legal document.
While Mr. Emmert said part of the sanctions was to correct Penn State's sports culture, Penn State as he spoke was in 100 percent compliance with NCAA rules. The people involved in the Sandusky case all are gone.
There has been no suggestion that the Sandusky case had anything to do with competition, yet the NCAA also decidedd to void all Penn State victories since 1998, apparently to ensure diminished legacy of Coach Joe Paterno.
Many people justly have been critical that the PSU football program had too much influence over the university. Today, other universities should be wary that the NCAA has used that problem to give itself vast new power.