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Dejan Kovacevic chat transcript: July 12, 2012

| Wednesday, July 11, 2012, 3:33 p.m.

Dejan Kovacevic: Hello, all, and a special thanks to all who participated and even contributed to our live-blog Penn State stuff this morning. I've just posted an online column on the topic.We won't do ALL Penn State today, by the way. Let's get started ...

Dave in Ross: DK, can NCAA use Freeh investigation findings, or will they conduct another one?

Dejan Kovacevic: The NCAA will have to do its own investigation, and it's actually begun at least in the organizational sense. Louis Freeh made clear today that they're free to use the findings, obviously, but that they didn't work in tandem.The NCAA should have gotten started on this, by the way, at roughly 9:01 a.m.

Chris: Dejan-- quite simply, is JoePa's reputation ruined forever?

Dejan Kovacevic: Yes. Unquestionably. Irrevocably. My feelings on that and a lot of other elements of this are in that column.But when the former director of the FBI faces the nation after interviewing 400-plus people and examining thousands of documents and points the finger PRIMARILY at the football coach in the case of child rape cover-up, yes, that's the end.

Guest: Why do Penn State Alum immediately go into defense mode no matter the news or allegations? It's getting a little creepy.

Dejan Kovacevic: They already have, my friend. A lot of them, anyway. Most of the early response I've gotten to the online column has gone like this:"This, that, something else, random this ... BUT SAVE FOOTBALL!"

Brian: Thank you for the coverage today. The PSU scandal will never be a easy topic to cover. All that being said. Is the death penalty something they (NCAA) could do this immediately or would it likely take a year or two to be finished.

Dejan Kovacevic: If these things are done right, they always take time. I'm very impressed that Freeh and his group could get done as quickly as eight months, actually. Some of the legwork obviously has been done for the NCAA. And in case the NCAA didn't take the hint, the term "institutional control" can be found on 11 separate pages in the report. That wasn't subtle.

Paul: According to lawyer, report doesn't show lack of "institutional control" as defined by NCAA handbook. How is that possible?!?

Dejan Kovacevic: Insanity.

Dave in Ross: Change of subject. Pirates second half prediction? When does Marte get the call?

Dejan Kovacevic: Yeah, let's branch off a bit. Good idea.The Pirates have their next 19 games against teams with losing records. No reason for them to come out of that in a worse position than they are now. The pitching will hold up, and the hitting ... oh, I don't know.I've heard in the past 48 hours that Marte is NOT expected to be promoted today, maybe not this weekend. The team's position hasn't changed that "it's time," as one very high-ranking exec told me last week, but it's obvious their definition of time is a little different.

BobbyToledo: Any trade rumors out there for the Buccos?

Dejan Kovacevic: I mentioned yesterday that the Diamondbacks were in Indianapolis scouting players there, presumably to see if there's a match in a Justin Upton trade. I still don't see that match.I'll add here that the Padres were in West Virginia scouting the Pirates' Class A affiliate, which has a couple of good Latin American prospects in Alen Hanson and Gregory Polanco. San Diego, of course, is shopping Carlos Quentin. I like that potential acquisition, including the price, better than most I've heard.

Mr. White: Are you watching Breaking Bad as it airs at 10PM Sunday or will you DVR it?

Dejan Kovacevic: Is Winnipeg cold?

Tim - Imperial: DK, appreciate your work ethic: Does Beau Bennett have a realistic chance of playing on 87's wing or is this talk all preseason hype?

Dejan Kovacevic: No, I don't see that at all. Wrote about this in the Wednesday column . The Penguins are throwing out internal possibilities because they have to guard against looking desperate.Where there's smoke, there's fire. And there was enough smoke about Shane Doan at Consol the other day to warrant a fire truck. They really like him, really hope to get him. But again, that's contingent on the strange situation in Phoenix.

Pam in Mechanicsburg: Dejan, How is it that people can continue to defend JoePa when the evidence is clear? Is this the culture we live in where sports and icons matter more than human decency?

Dejan Kovacevic: Not with everyone, Pam. And I think that's worth stressing. On a day like this, fact is, neither you nor I are going to hear from too many level-headed Penn State fans. That's just life. No one calls City Hall to say they did a great job of picking up the trash that morning.You'll hear from the irrational. Doesn't mean they're the majority.I'm sorry, but I just have to believe that.

Dan1283: DK, just a simple comment, you've been a voice of reason in a storm of hyperbolic calls to action and a cowardice storm of excuse-making. Makes your words today have all the more impact. Kudos to you on a job well down every step of the way on this story.

Dejan Kovacevic: I appreciate that, Dan. I think there are times to get ahead of something and times to wait for the best facts available. I called for Paterno's firing almost immediately because I saw his situation was untenable. But I reserved judgment on most non-Sandusky variables until today.

Jim: Does Appel sign with the Pirates tomorrow?

Dejan Kovacevic: T hese were the last words I heard from the Mark Appel camp: "No matter what happens, it won't be the Pirates' fault."That was a couple weeks ago. Read into it as you wish.My own thinking is still that Appel will have a tough time turning down $3.8 million AND sitting out a year. That only delays his time in the majors, and he's got little reason to believe he can improve upon that figure in the next draft.But never underestimate Scott Boras' resourcefulness.

AVG: Have you been to the development camp and is it realistic to think we can keep all these defensemen?

Dejan Kovacevic: I have been up there, and of course it's NOT possible. There are 13 D-men up there, and seven of them are either first- or second-rounders. That's the positive, in addition to the fact that Scott Harrington and Brian Dumoulin, two of those second-rounders, might be as good as anyone there. The negative is that you've only got six NHL spots, and even that can result in a quality trade.It's a great group, by the way, probably the best in franchise history.

Joe: Hey DK, I'm still a student as PSU (and love it there) and I will say that not all of us are blindly defending actions taken by school officials and, as much as it pains me to say, Joe Pa. Do you think the findings in the Freeh report could jeopardize PSU's membership in the Big Ten? Do you see the Big Ten possibly pursuing a school like Notre Dame as a replacement?

Dejan Kovacevic: Jim Delaney and the Big Ten have been deflecting all questions about this, for the most part, and deferring to the NCAA. I don't see that changing.Spine is not exactly a trait of conference leaders.

Hunter: If the signing of Hayden Hurst is high enough to impact what the Pirates can pay Mark Appel is that pretty much a sign Huntington thinks he's headed back to Stanford?

Dejan Kovacevic: No, that pool is only affected by picks in the top 10 rounds. Hurst has really good pedigree, but he was still a 17th-rounder.

Byron: Why do some seem to revel in this scandal happening to Penn State? It's like they don't grasp the magnitude of it because it happened to a hated rival.

Dejan Kovacevic: Anyone reveling in any aspect of a story like this ... honestly, I can't even come up with the words for that without profanity, so I'll pass.

Paul: What do you see as biggest question mark for Steelers heading into this season? RB, gelling with new OC?

Dejan Kovacevic: I don't see running back as a question mark in the sense that it's clear Isaac Redman will be the feature back. But what might surprise some by the time they get to Latrobe, I think, is how often Haley will try to get other backs -- notably scatback Chris Rainey -- involved in the offense. So much of Haley's goal appears to be unpredictability, and that will include personnel as much as sets.Personnel wise, I'm going to say cornerback. Someone tell me why I should have faith in Keenan Lewis as an every-down starter.

CRL: According to the NCAA Manual, pg 323 and 324 the only penalty available for a first time major violator related to suspension of activies would be Prohibition against specified competition in the sport (including, but not limited to, postseason competition, invitational tournaments and exempt contests or dates of competition, such as foreign tours or contests in Alaska or Hawaii), particularly in cases in which: (1) An involved individual remains employed at the institution; (2) A significant competitive advantage resulted from the violation; (3) The violation reflects a lack of institutional control, failure to monitor a program, or a violation of the cooperative principle set forth in Bylaw 32.1.4; (4) The violation includes findings of academic fraud; or (5) The institution is a repeat violator (as defined in Bylaw For the death penalty, an institution must be a repeat violator. I don't think there is anyway that the NCAA can impose the death penalty without violating their own bylaws.

Dejan Kovacevic: I presume the clause you're citing is the one that most cite, that being "first time."Does anyone truly believe that the NCAA can't call what happened at Penn State a multiple-violation situation in light of at least 10 children being raped over more than a decade and -- now, officially with the Freeh report -- two established incidents of Paterno and the Penn State higher-ups being aware of accusations against Sandusky. It had never before been established that Paterno also knew about 1998.That's really reaching.The NCAA can EASILY make the case for the death penalty without sweating a bead over the "first time" phrase.I'll say it again: This is as bad as it gets.

Money for Nutting: As far as going and scouting players for potential trades, how necessary is that? Isn't there enough video and statistics on every player out there? Is watching a couple of games live really going to say something new?

Dejan Kovacevic: They don't always look for baseball things, believe it or not. They'll watch the kids' behavior, interaction with teammates, body language, all kinds of things.Wouldn't you have wanted to scout Jose Tabata, for example?

And away we go with Tampa Bay Lightning time ...

Matt in Chicago: Any change the Pens can get Bobby Ryan?

Dejan Kovacevic: I've never heard that name from them. That's why I didn't include it in the Wednesday column, as some of you had asked.

Dave in Ross: Just another example of PSU blindness, Matt Millen currently on SPortscenter inferring STILL that JVP didn't know, wasn't the final decision maker, trying to lay all blame on Spanier!! Ughhhh!!! Still no concern for victims

Dejan Kovacevic: Millen was having a really rough time on live TV right after the Freeh news conference. Looked like he was having a molar extracted in just admitting that there was a shred of possibility that the investigation might have produced something meaningful.And really, what is it with this statue that causes everyone to hem and haw so much with their answers this morning?"Uh, well, that's not really important ..."OK, if it's not important, then make up your mind without suffering over it.

Brian: I am just an average person. How does someone's ego get so big that they think they are bigger than life itself. How could someone with as big a heart as Joe Paterno had turn his back on the very kids he always tried to help? I just don't get it.

Dejan Kovacevic: Me neither, man. Me neither.Sports and sports figures have a way of becoming larger than life in our culture.

Mike: Do you feel the Pirates rotation will be good as it is, or will they need to add an arm?

Dejan Kovacevic: I wouldn't mind seeing a quality arm, if only to ensure depth. I like Rudy Owens, as most of you will know, but a veteran starter accounts for continued ineffectiveness by Erik Bedard and/or Kevin Correia, as well as the inevitable injury to Bedard.

antonio: any news on the mike wallace contract situation?

Dejan Kovacevic: Zippo. Suspect you won't hear much about that until Latrobe when the athletes start talking about it. Especially Ike Taylor.

Susan: I appreciated your quotes from AJ on being a Pirate. He seems to have really bonded with the fans. Do you think he will stick around a few years?

Dejan Kovacevic: Well, A.J. is under contract for next year at $8 million, and I can tell you the Pirates have made it VERY clear they'll have him back.

Mj: Do you like the new starting pitchers rotation?

Dejan Kovacevic: I do not. Glad you asked. I liked that the Pirates knew they could avoid significant losing streaks by stacking James McDonald and Burnett back-to-back. I also liked that it would give the bullpen a nice sustained spell.Besides, why mess with what works?

matt from greensburg: Dejan, love your work. I cried myself to sleep the nite sid bream outran the Great Barry Bonds, but have been loyal this whole time, with a few holes punched in the wall. is this really the year they are back, or are we waiting another year or two.

Dejan Kovacevic: I don't see a collapse. I don't think this team is phony. I'm not inclined to attach a number to where they'll end up because conditions change. If this team stays mostly healthy and makes a couple quality additions at the deadline, yes, it will hang around.

NYJohn: Do we really think that imposing the death penalty on Penn State will cause a "Janitor" to step forward and highlight the wrong doings of a strong leader? Isn't that the issue we should be focusing on... how do we drop the fear and uncertainty around reporting issues of sexual abuse?

Dejan Kovacevic: See what I mean?"This, that, something else ... BUT PLAY FOOTBALL!"Not picking on you, John, but just about every argument I hear pointing to something else ends up with that singular sentiment as the primary goal.

CRL: First, I'm not disagreeing that it should happen but, repeat violator is also defined, " Repeat Violators. Time Period. An institution shall be considered a “repeat” violator if the Committee on Infractions finds that a major violation has occurred within five years of the starting date of a major penalty. For this provision to apply, at least one major violation must have occurred within five years after the starting date of the penalties in the previous case. It shall not be necessary that the Committee on Infractions' hearing be conducted or its report issued within the five-year period. (Revised: 1/14/97 effective 8/1/97)"

Dejan Kovacevic: So, Sandusky having access to the Lasch Building and Coach Emeritus status (whatever in blue blazes that is) and all the other violations, including possible perjury, that occurred in the past five years ... those don't mean anything?I know people will grasp for stuff here, but I'll say it bluntly: If the NCAA wants to impose the death penalty, it can and will. And it will have very little difficulty lining it up with the bylaws.

Jandy: Do you know if Tom Kunhackl is really sick, or is there something else that is keeping him away from the Penguins' Development Camp?

Dejan Kovacevic: Oh, for the days when all we have to deal with are Kunhackl-blowing-off-prospects-camp conspiracies!

NYJohn: Why isn't there more outrage for the police / prosecution for not doing more after the 1998 incident?

Dejan Kovacevic: I'll agree with you on that, John. Did you catch Freeh saying that the assistant DA in that process REFUSED to speak with his people?Wow!Yeah, that and the DA's eventual death, and Gov. Tom Gorbett having been Attorney General, this is a long, long way from being swept off the front page.

Guest: The blog column is some of your best writing ever. Forceful and transcending. Thank you.

Dejan Kovacevic: I appreciate that. Churned it out in about 20 minutes and remember very little of it at the moment.Two more today ...

juice711: Reported Penn State turned university controlled tv's from Freeh report to a public access channel this morning, uh.............those type of actions kinda started this whole thing didn't they?

Dejan Kovacevic: Let's wait for someone to confirm that. But you're the second person in this room to point that out, including one who was on campus. If so ...

Jared in MT: Penn State students were gathered in the Student Center today to watch the proceedings on CNN when all the tv's shut off and switched to other programming. Doesn't appear the school has learned anything as its still trying to cover up the truth.

Dejan Kovacevic: Well, that's three now.

dillonerd: As a parallel - Pete Rose was banned from baseball because he gambled. Was it too harsh? It doesn't matter because he broke their biggest rule and that is how they handled it. For what PSU did the dealth penalty is the only option because it is the greatest penalty they have.

Dejan Kovacevic: If you don't have a death penalty for something like this, then heaven help us when we find the circumstance for which the NCAA would be saving it.Thanks to all of you, all morning. I have another column to finish for tomorrow's paper -- on a non-Penn State topic, I'm delighted to say, as that will be 24 hours old by then -- and I hope you have a chance to check it out.There will be NO columns or chat next week. Mandatory time off before leaving for the Olympics in late July. The column will return July 23.

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