NCAA won't rule out death penalty for PSU
College Football Videos
NCAA president Mark Emmert said he won't rule out any form of punishment for Penn State in the wake of the child-abuse scandal involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.
“I've never seen anything as egregious as this in terms of overall conduct and behavior inside of a university,” Emmert said in an interview Monday night with PBS. “What the appropriate penalties are, if there are determinations of violations, we'll have to decide. I don't want to take anything off the table.”
In the end, the NCAA could lean on its constitution.
“I don't think the NCAA can walk away from this and find there is nothing wrong,” said Mike McCann, a leading sports legal authority and the director of the Sports Law Institute at Vermont.
McCann said Articles 2.4 and 10.1 of the NCAA constitution could be key. Article 2.4 demands “student-athletes, coaches and all others associated with these athletics programs and events should adhere to such fundamental values as respect, fairness, civility, honesty and responsibility.”
The Freeh report, released last week, found that top Penn State officials, including former coach Joe Paterno, “failed to protect against a child sexual predator harming children for over a decade.”
The NCAA constitution doesn't mention possible penalties for violations of those articles, and a former chairman of the Infractions Committee said he never has seen them referenced in prior cases of unethical conduct.
“We all want to do something to prevent this type of conduct,” said David Swank, who served on the committee from 1991-99 and is a professor of law at Oklahoma. “But it is another (civil and criminal) court, rather than the NCAA's court, in this instance.”
That doesn't necessarily preclude the Penn State case from taking a different course.
“Maybe this is a new case,” Swank said. “I suppose it is a possibility.”
That could include the death penalty, which bans a school from competing in a sport for at least one season. The death penalty has been implemented only once, when the NCAA shut down the SMU football program in 1987 and '88.
But Swank said it applies only when major violations occur more than once in a five-year period.
In any case, he predicts the NCAA could take between six and 18 months to rule.
“It is not a simple process,” he said.
McCann said some form of punishment should be considered by the NCAA.
“But the death penalty, that's a harder call,” he said.
“My instinct is yes, but it has been reserved for repeat offenses, which is not the case here.
“It would take a new application of the rule. But I definitely think it should be on the table.”
McCann suggests that Penn State should self-impose the death penalty.
“The best outcome would be for Penn State to voluntarily offer to take a year off from football, because if they won't, it could be more severe than that,” he said. “At the end of the day, the NCAA is not a predictable entity.”
McCann predicts fallout from the death penalty could cost Penn State its head coach and players.
“(Coach) Bill O'Brien will try to get out of his contract,” McCann said, “and players should be allowed to transfer (without sitting out a season). The NCAA would be wise to permit that.”
Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 412-320-7997.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates notebook: Kang settling in to comfort zone
- Subway suspends ties with spokesman after raid at home
- Homestead man wanted on child sex trafficking charges nabbed in Mississippi
- Broad-based tax increases off-limits, GOP leaders tell Gov. Wolf
- Starkey: Burnett writing incredible final chapter
- Uber lowers fares in Pittsburgh
- Marijuana reform advances in Chile
- Policy to suspend employees with felony charges does not apply to Kane
- Penn-Trafford summer camps focus on specific topics
- Mother of Wilkinsburg toddler found dead in ravine charged with her murder
- ACLU asks Butler County developer to drop fracking-related lawsuit