Tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. ET, NCAA president Mark Emmert will hold a press conference laying out what has already been described as “unprecedented” penalties against the Penn State program following the release of the Freeh report.
The perplexity surrounding the term “unprecedented” is two-fold, both in the sanctions themselves — though the Death Penalty is reportedly not among them — and the path the NCAA took to arrive at the final decision. There was no Notice of Inquiry, no Notice of Allegations, no Committee on Infractions hearing or anything resembling the typical structure under which the NCAA has always operated.
Like the Sandusky scandal itself, there is no template for how the NCAA could possibly handle the situation at Penn State.
However the NCAA does decide to punish the program, Penn State won’t appeal in any way, according to “assurance” given to David Jones of the Patriot-News.
“Penn State is desirous of a positive relationship with the NCAA in the future. I believe the university is also eager to clear the decks of the Sandusky mess with as much dispatch as is possible, especially before fall semester begins,” Jones writes. “I believe the rationale is that contention would only prolong the period before healing can begin.”
That line of thinking would make sense. If the aftermath of the Freeh report has taught us anything, it’s that NCAA ramifications will be the least of Penn State’s concerns moving forward as lawsuits surely await an institution that failed to stop a child molester employee for over a decade.
Fighting the NCAA won’t result in any victory for PSU.
If there’s reason to fight, that is. Speculation through this morning and afternoon has been that Penn State and the NCAA have decided on sanctions in a joint manner, though there’s been no confirmation of that.
But consider this snippet from the NCAA’s website related to charges a program can face:
“However, if an institution agrees with the facts that the investigation has uncovered, the case can enter the summary-disposition process before a notice of allegations is provided. In summary disposition, the school and the enforcement staff agree on the facts and a set of penalties to be imposed; no hearing before the Committee on Infractions is necessary.”
Such a case would bypass the normal NCAA investigative protocol, and indeed that’s what we have here.
What we don’t have yet are answers. How will the NCAA punish Penn State? Bowl bans? Scholarship reductions? Vacated wins? Maybe a TV ban? Given the emphasis put on media and TV deals nowadays, that would be a hard-hitting sanction, but most seem rather fruitless in the grand scheme of things. It’s also equally pointless to even speculate what they’ll be until Emmert announces them tomorrow.
When he does, I think it’s reasonable to presume Penn State will accept them and move on.