Perhaps the NCAA should add child molestation as a penalty to its rule book. Somewhere between; You Can’t Pay For An Athletes Meal, and You Can’t Give Him A Ride In Your Car, they may want to add; You Can’t Shower With His Little Brother.
Of course that rule is not there, and it’s actually not the NCAA’s job to regulate criminal behavior, but it appears they would like to make that part of their responsibility. Do they really think putting sanctions on Penn State will stop future molestation cases?
Pennsylvania (the state, not Penn St the school) is fighting the NCAA over sanctions stemming from the Jerry Sandusky child molestation case. The school was slapped with a 4 year Bowl ban, loss of football scholarships, $60 million in fines, and other penalties.
Now the Governor of Pennsylvania is stepping in and suing the NCAA for going after the Nittany Lions football program. Whether his legal arguments will work remains to be seen, but the NCAA going after Penn State football on this issue defies logic.
When the sanctions were first announced I was surprised that the university didn’t fight back then, but they accepted the penalty. At that time I was interviewed on a radio show about this issue and I asked the politically incorrect question that still needs to be asked today, “What business is it of the NCAA to jump into the Sandusky issue? Did he violate NCAA rules? Is there something in the NCAA rule book about child abuse?”
Please, nobody interpret this as defense of Sandusky. If you do that, you need no doctor to declare yourself brain dead. I will question the NCAA’s authority in this case. To sanction Penn State the NCAA used the catch-all argument of “lack of institutional control,” which basically means; they couldn’t catch you on anything in the rule book, but they still wanna throw it at you.
It serves no purpose for the NCAA to go after the Penn State football program on this, other than to show they have power and they will use it whenever and however they like. That’s what this is all about, wielding power because they have it. I imagine there was a group of NCAA execs at a table in Indianapolis saying stuff like, “something must be done!” So they did the only thing they know how to do, apply sanctions.
This is not the NCAA’s fight. Sandusky is behind bars, head coach Joe Paterno was fired and is now dead, his statue has been removed, the victims will suffer the horror of having to deal with this for a lifetime, and reputation of Penn State has been damaged beyond measure. Why create more victims out of the current players and coaches by sanctioning them? If Governor Tom Corbett has a case, that’s the case he should make.
The NCAA responded to Corbett by saying it was an “affront” to the victims for him to challenge their authority. Apparently the NCAA believes it is now their job to defend victims in criminal cases along with regulating Women’s Volleyball.
By the way, this is not the first time a state and the NCAA have tangled.
I’m pretty familiar with another state vs. NCAA battle. Covering the NCAA fight with Jerry Tarkanian over the years in Las Vegas could’ve qualified me for some sort of law degree, if not at least an elevated internship at a law firm. In 1988 Tark lost a case with the NCAA that went all the way to the US Supreme Court. By a 5-4 vote, the Court ruled that the NCAA was basically like a golf country club. If you join, you agree to play by their rules, no matter how ridiculous they want to make those rules.
The Tarkanian case stemmed from sanctions imposed on UNLV Basketball in 1977 where the NCAA told the state of Nevada that it must fire Tark as coach. Nevada responded by agreeing that the NCAA could impose sanctions (which they did) but it had no authority in who their coach should be and the 15 year battle was on, eventually ending in 1992 when Tark’s final UNLV team (26-2 record, ranked 7th in the nation) was not allowed to go to the NCAA Tournament as a replacement penalty for the ’77 sanctions. Ya—when the NCAA digs in, it digs in. Eventually Tarkanian filed a civil suit against the NCAA and in an unprecedented move, the NCAA gave in, settled out of court, and paid Tark $2.5 million.
In the Penn State case, because of the horrific nature of Jerry Sandusky’s actions, it’s easy for some to make the argument that you should just nuke Beaver Stadium and start all over again. Perhaps the NCAA should’ve given the Nittany Lions the Death Penalty if they really cared about the victims. How far should this go?
Perhaps in the next NCAA rules book, along with child molestation, they should make rape and murder sanction-able offenses. Add assault, battery, and why not build a jail out back of their offices in Indy so they can incarcerate?
The NCAA has enough work out there trying to keep players from taking an extra Big Mac during a recruiting trip to South West Tech State U, all the while counting the billions they make from Bowl Games, TV deals, and March Madness. It is a frightening prospect that the NCAA now believes it has a role to play in criminal matters that have already been prosecuted by the authorities. How far will this go?
Follow Ron Futrell on Twitter @RonFutrell