NCAA President Mark Emmert (above, right) lowered the boom on Penn State earlier today, slapping the institution that effectively enabled the predatory Jerry Sandusky with penalties so severe, PSU might well have preferred a one year suspension of the football program. I’m not entirely sure how pressing the history eraser button on Joe Paterno’s last 13 years of coaching serves the purpose of helping children in peril, but that’s a minor consideration compared to the lack of due process from a governing body that’s picked a rather convenient (some will say appropriate) moment in history to warn of football taking precedence over anything and everything.
The Nation’s Dave Zirin — mindful that PSU trustees and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett have yet to have their feet held to the fire — calls Emmert’s laundry list of punishments, ” a farcical public relations move that distracts the public from actually holding to account those responsible for protecting Sandusky… nothing less than an extra-legal, extrajudicial imposition into the affairs of a publicly funded campus.”
Take a step back from the hysteria and just think about what took place: Penn State committed no violations of any NCAA bylaws. There were no secret payments to “student-athletes,” no cheating on tests, no improper phone calls, no using cream cheese instead of butter on a recruit’s bagel, or any of the Byzantine minutiae that fills the time-sheets that justify Mark Emmert’s $1.6 million salary.
What Penn State did was commit horrific violations of criminal and civil laws, and it should pay every possible price for shielding Sandusky, the child rapist. This is why we have a society with civil and criminal courts. Instead, we have Mark Emmert inserting himself in a criminal matter and acting as judge, jury and executioner, in the style of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. As much as I can’t stand Goodell’s authoritarian, undemocratic methods, the NFL is a private corporation and his method of punishment was collectively bargained with the NFL Players Association. Emmert, heading up the so-called nonprofit NCAA, is intervening with his own personal judgment and cutting the budget of a public university. He has no right, and every school under the auspices of the NCAA should be terrified that he believes he does.