Monday, August 06, 2012

Bitter-Enders

[Update, Sunday, 6.32pm: After an overwhelming number of trustees expressed support for the Penn State president, renegade Trustee McCombie, at a meeting of the Penn State board, announced that he will no longer pursue his appeal of the consent degree. Neither he nor the other most outspoken renegade trustee, Anthony Lubrano, revealed any of the factual errors that they claim exist in the Freeh Report.]

[Update, Wednesday, 1.45pm: Two additional items for the bitter-ender file. ESPN reports that a handful of former Penn State football players will appeal the sanctions, in part on grounds (you guessed it!) that elements of the Freeh Report were “clearly erroneous.” The letter offers no guidance on how, or in what manner, the findings were “clearly erroneous.”

In addition to his communication with the NCAA, renegade trustee McCombie, meanwhile, has also penned a letter to his fellow trustees, asking them (“for the glory,” as he ended his missive) to join his anti-accountability crusade. “I do not do this,” wrote he, “seeking a predetermined result nor do I claim to know what the final answers will be.”

That would be the same Trustee McCombie who told the NCAA that he did know what the final answers would be--namely, that the Freeh Report “contains findings and conclusions that are contrary to the evidence and/or unsupported by credible evidence.” Whether his fellow trustees will respond to a colleague who plays so fast and loose with the truth remains to be seen.]

In our WSJ op-ed, Stuart and I noted that—thanks largely to the Freeh Report—Penn State had responded to administrative failure far more effectively than had Duke handled its response to the lacrosse case. Yet, we argued, a potential problem remained, in which “Penn State may be doomed to follow Duke's unfortunate example. Duke's appeasing of its faculty extremists symbolized its failed response to the lacrosse case. Penn State, similarly, has shown little willingness to deal with its bitter-enders—those among the campus community who prefer to hide their eyes and ears from the evidence and cling to the belief that the late Coach Joe Paterno was somehow mistreated. Such views exist even among the board of trustees, two of whose recently elected members, Anthony Lubrano and Ryan McCombie, campaigned on a platform demanding that the board apologize to the Paterno family.”

Events of recent days confirmed our pessimism. First, the Paterno family announced a desire to appeal the various NCAA sanctions against Penn State. (No member of the Paterno family is currently employed by Penn State, and the university continues to honor the terms of the sweetheart 2011 contract negotiated between the late football coach and ousted Penn State president Graham Spanier.) Beyond expressing rage at the condemnation of a “great educator, philanthropist and coach,” the family targeted the Freeh Report:
As will become evident in a thorough and impartial review, the NCAA acted hastily and without any regard for due process. Furthermore, the NCAA and Penn State’s Board Chair and President entirely ignored the fact that the Freeh Report, on which these extraordinary penalties are based, is deeply flawed because it is incomplete [in unidentified ways], rife with [unidentified, it seems] unsupported opinions and unquestionably [at least, it seems, according to the Paternos] one-sided.  [emphasis added]
The NCAA immediately rejected the appeal on grounds that a consent decree can’t be appealed. And even if such an agreement could be appealed, it hardly seems likely that a family of someone who no longer works for Penn State would have grounds for action.

Then, yesterday, ESPN reported that a renegade group of trustees, headed by the apology-demanding Ryan McCombie, had informed the NCAA that they intended to appeal the sanctions. The McCombie group complains that Penn State president Rodney Erickson kept them in the dark about his negotiations with the NCAA, and lacked authority to enter into an agreement with the NCAA—which, if true, would be grounds for the board to dismiss Erickson.

But after raising what could very well be a legitimate governance issue, the renegade trustees’ letter veered into the absurd. Here’s an excerpt:
The NCAA decree is fundamentally unfair in that the Freeh Report, on which it is predicated, contains findings and conclusions that are contrary to the evidence and/or unsupported by credible evidence [in ways that, it seems, must remain unidentified]. The Report failed to consider evidence or afford certain [unidentified, it seems] individuals an opportunity to be heard, failed to acknowledge the absence of [unidentified, it seems] important and material evidence, and reached [unidentified, it seems] conclusions based on assumption, conjecture, and misplaced characterizations that are contrary to the [unidentified, it seems] available facts and evidence.
ESPN added that if—as is expected—the NCAA rules either the consent decree can’t be appealed or that a renegade band of trustees lacks standing to appeal, the McCombie group will file a federal lawsuit.

The two documents’ descriptions of the Freeh Report were nothing short of wishful thinking. The Paternos’ letter asserted that the report is—not “likely is,” not “could be,” but “is”—incomplete and “rife with unsupported opinions.” Yet, in what could only be deemed a highly peculiar public relations strategy, the letter (just like all of the family’s other public statements about the Freeh Report) neglected to pass along even one of these “unsupported opinions” of which the Freeh Report supposedly is “rife.” Why, do you suppose, that is?

Likewise with the McCombie letter, which maintained that the report contained findings and conclusions that are—not “probably are,” not “could be,” but “are”—“contrary to the evidence and/or unsupported by credible evidence.” Yet the renegade trustees’ letter couldn’t find space to identify even one conclusion of the Freeh Report that was “contrary to the evidence,” or even one finding that was “unsupported by credible evidence.” Why, do you suppose, that is?

We’ve seen, of course, this type of thinking in the Duke case, with the bitter-enders among the Group of 88 and their supporters. The Group statement, apologist Charlie Piot claimed, wasn’t about the lacrosse case at all—even though the e-mail soliciting signatures described the ad as “about the lacrosse team incident.” Or, Group member William Chafe wildly asserted, Bloggers who have targeted the ‘Group of 88’” were guilty of “sending us e-mails and making phone calls wishing our deaths and calling us ‘Jew b-’ and ‘n-b-’.” Yet when pressed, Chafe couldn’t identify which of the dozen or so “bloggers critical of the Group of 88” had engaged in such behavior.

Like the Paterno family and the renegade trustees on the Freeh Report, for bitter-enders like Chafe and Piot, the “facts” simply had to fit their preconceived notions.

As demonstrated most recently in the promotion of Paula McClain, Duke effectively surrendered to the Group of 88. Will Penn State likewise be drawn low by its bitter-enders?

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

Looks like those NCAA sanctions are doing a bang-up job changing the culture there at Penn State.

Anonymous said...

"As demonstrated most recently in the promotion of Paula McClain, Duke effectively surrendered to the Group of 88."

And as demonstrated by this creature being promoted to chair of Sociology:

Bonilla-Silva "described the United States as 'gringoland.' In a course syllabus used at his previous institution, Texas A&M, he wrote, 'We conclude the class with a discussion of some of the solutions that have been proposed to deal with the racial dilemmas plaguing the United States of Amerikkka . . .'"

http://sociology.duke.edu/news/archive/2012/06/29/bonilla-silva-new-sociology-chair-1

Duke Prof

Anonymous said...

The Durham disease is spreading.

skwilli said...

Don't extrapolate that "the PSU culture" is bad from the actions of several individuals. An objective review of the situation will find that PSU has more of its population than any other organization probably could ever achieve, dedicated to restoring the high ideals we all have always reached for. Because others could not live up to those ideals doesn't mean the ideals are wrong. Great things are being achieved every day by PSU alums and students. Off-handed put-downs of "PSU's culture" are not only wrong, but they are misplaced. Criminals and criminal-appeasers don't speak for many of us, yet they certainly will get all the media attention, and always will. Nobody from the Press has bothered to contact me, even though I have gladly taken the mantle of "Success with Honor" on behalf of my Track team alumni group. (I have changed it to Success and Honor for those willing to hear it.) Condemn individuals with justification. Celebrate those willing to do what is necessary to make amends and make this world a better place.

skwilli said...

BTW, I tried to end the finishing sentence of KC's post with a "No". Duke has tried to totally ignore its scandal. No one at PSU is ignoring anything. And no one who was responsible for heinous actions will be tolerated there. A far cry from Durham, anyone should see.

Anonymous said...

Is McCombie a Marxist?

Anonymous said...

KC: Although I typically agree with your opinions and conclusions, I have to disagree with your position with respect to the veracity/accuracy of the Freeh report. Although I did not attend PSU and did not send any of my children there, I have followed the Sandusky matter closely and read every word of the Freeh report. The report contains numerous "conclusions" that are simply contrary to the facts of the case and/or not supported by the evidence. Indeed, I strongly believe that once the dust settles and cooler heads prevail significant sections of the Freeh the Freeh report will be completely discredited

KC Johnson said...

To the 11.51:

I couldn't help but notice how, in your comment, you didn't identify any of these "numerous 'conclusions' that are simply contrary to the facts of the case."

To skwilli:

I hope you're right. I'd submit that the renegade trustees, the Paterno family, and the alums who filed the recent appeal have ignored the Freeh Report. In effect--they don't like what it says, and so they've decided it's wrong, erroneous, unsubstantiated, etc., even though they don't seem able to point to one way in which it's wrong, erroneous, unsubstantiated, etc.

The question is to what extent they speak for either the administration or the broader community as a whole. My sense is, by and large, they do not. But the fact that--it appears--four trustees signed onto the McCombie letter does give me some pause.

skwilli said...

There are those in the "culture" who point to Freeh's previous investigations which were political in nature and left much to be desired. (Waco and Ruby Ridge) And there are others who point out that the hard evidence against JoePa himself is scant and insufficient for any prosecution. (3 oblique email references). I belong in neither camp, but I will add that all my interactions with the Paterno family have been extremely positive except the time Jay was caught red-handed "fudging" a yo-yo trick at a Playground competition as a kid. I saw no need of prosecution at the time!

PSU will prove even the most hardened opponents wrong in the long run. There will be a return to honor first, then a return to success on the field. There are simply more good PSU graduates out there than any other institution in America.

Anonymous said...

As a long time supporter of your attempt to vindicate the Duke lacrosse team and who has posted a few emails on DIW in support of your Zolaesque quest, I am very disappointed in your condemnation of Paterno and the PSU community. I have absolutely no connection with Penn State but I fear we are seeing a lynchmob mentality at work here. Of course Sandusky was a predator and a rapist and of course several senior administrators appear guilty of a cover-up but it is far from clear that paterno should be condemned for anything more than errors of judgement (severe). All of us have suffered such lapses. Moreover, the Draconian penalties assessed PSU by an NCAA that is truly hypocritical have no relation to the crimes as heinous as they are. Finally, calling people bitter-enders for not agreeing with the Freeh report in merely ad hominem and unworthy of you.

Anonymous said...

It appears that he old school tie is strong at Penn State. The alums ought to band together and demand that anyone who rejects the Freeh report be fired or no more money. And do it in public, maybe take out an ad -- a "listening letter" as it were -- in the student newspaper.

Anonymous said...

KC - it is apparent you have not read the Freeh report and watch ESPN for your facts. If you actually read the Freeh Report and agree with everything in it.. WOW is all I can say. You want jumped conclusions, here are some big ones for you:


FINDING 1: That Paterno convinced AD Tim Curley, and thus also convinced VP Gary Schultz and president Graham Spanier, not to report Sandusky to child welfare authorities, and that Paterno actively concealed knowledge of Sandusky's sexual abuse: "Four of the most powerful people at The Pennsylvania State University – President Graham B. Spanier, Senior Vice President‐Finance and Business Gary C. Schultz, Athletic Director Timothy M. Curley and Head Football Coach Joseph V. Paterno – failed to protect against a child sexual predator harming children for over a decade. These men concealed Sandusky’s activities from the Board of Trustees, the University community and authorities. ... "

TRUTH: Virtually no evidence, and zero support for that evidence, whatsoever, that Paterno concealed Sandusky's activities, or that he convinced Curley and the others not to report Sandusky.

FINDING 2: That Paterno had significant knowledge of and closely followed the 1998 police investigation of Sandusky, which was initiated by a mother's complaint that Sandusky had bear-hugged her son while they showered: "The evidence shows that Mr. Paterno was made aware of the 1998 investigation of Sandusky, followed it closely, but failed to take any action," Louis Freeh said in his statement to the media on the day the Freeh Report was released.

TRUTH: There is no clear evidence Paterno knew the details of the 1998 allegation or of the subsequent investigation. There are plausible reasons to believe he did not know the details and did not follow it closely. That said, there is clear evidence Paterno likely had knowledge Sandusky was being questioned or investigated for something in 1998. Paterno possibly knew the questioning/investigation was related to some sort of accusation by a underprivileged child connected to Sandusky through the Second Mile, Sandusky's longtime, exalted children's charity, but might not have known what the accusation specifically was about. There simply isn't any supporting evidence to show otherwise. Also, considering Sandusky was cleared by the District Attorney in the investigation and no charges were filed, what sort of action did Freeh expect Paterno to take? Sandusky had been cleared. by the authorities.

How about Corbett still taking campaign money from second mile while he KNEW they were investigating Sandusky.

The Freeh report is a joke, it is a character assasination just like the Atlanta Park bombing investigation Freeh was in charge of.

People are so wrapped up in believing the Freeh report is gospel, when it has more holes than a 10-mile long block of swiss cheese.

KC Johnson said...

To the 8.52:

I'm not sure how you reached the conclusion that I hadn't read the Freeh Report (much less that I "obviously" hadn't done so), but allow me to disabuse you of the notion: I read the report the day it was published, using myriad specific page citations in this post (http://www.mindingthecampus.com/originals/2012/07/the_freeh_report_and_the_failu.html), and read it again before Stuart & I did our op-ed.

I agree completely with your comment about Corbett, and believe that--quite unlike the behavior of the former senior leadership of Penn State--there hasn't been anywhere near enough media attention to (a) what he knew & when he knew it; and (b) whether there was any political influence in what seems like the extraordinary slowness of the investigation when Corbett was AG.

To the 8.35:

I have labeled these figures "bitter-enders" not for disagreeing with the Freeh Report but for asserting, in writing and in some cases repeatedly, that the Freeh Report is flawed, inaccurate, &c. without providing even one specific example to bolster their claims. That approach is nothing more than argument-by-assertion, or, some might say, an "ad hominem" attack against Freeh, given the high-profile, public nature of the attacks.

To skwilli:

I obviously don't know the Paternos & have no connection to Penn State. They don't seem to have received very good p.r. advice in recent months--their statements' references to what might be good or bad for Sandusky's victims, as if they know or are in any position to know what's good or bad for the victims, have been at best incredibly tone-deaf. (I agree with Bruce Feldman, who noted that each each statement from the Paterno family seems to "spark more outrage," helping to fuel "a combustible mix" on campus.)

It's also worth noting precisely what argument the renegade trustees/Paterno family/ex-players have offered. They haven't simply said that the Freeh Report needed more e-mails to prove its case. They've said that--in unspecified ways--the Freeh Report was wrong, inaccurate, &c. To date, they haven't offered even a scintilla of evidence to corroborate what is a serious allegation.

On the overall quantity of the evidence, to paraphrase Coach Belichick, it is what it is. Unless ex-AD Curley was lying in his 1998 and 2001 e-mails (virtually inconceivable) or Freeh's team concealed exculpatory evidence to Paterno (highly unlikely, given the Paterno family's inability to produce such evidence), the report's argument strikes me as persuasive and credible.

Anonymous said...

KC -- I am a strong proponent of holding Penn State, and its leadership, accountable for what happened. I think the NCAA did the right thing. THe Freeh Report is by and large a very good document. The issue with respect to Paterno is that Freeh reached very strong and damning conclusions based upon 3 emails over a 3 year period, none of which were all that clear. That's it. It seems Freeh relied upon Paterno's stature at the school to assume that he must have known more. Perhaps true, but there really is not a whole lot of evidence to back that up.

We really do not know yet with confidnece what Paterno knew and did. That is likely to come out at the trials of Curley and Schultz. None of this excuses Paterno in the slightest. At best, he was so woefully out of touch with what was going on around him that he effectievly allowed Sandusky to continue preying.

As pointed out earlier, Freeh does have some history in reaching sensational conclusions only to be shown later to have overstated his case significantly. Let's let the process play out before rushing to judgment.

-- Haunches

guiowen said...

KC,
Several people are saying that (at least some of) Freeh's conclusions are "clearly erroneous". These people are appealing the sanctions.
You complain that they don't explain which of the conclusions are "clearly erroneous".
Maybe these people don't want to tip their hand. Why don't you wait until the appeals process plays out?

KC Johnson said...

To the 1.40:

It's not clear to me to which "appeals process" you refer: consent decrees between a university & the NCAA cannot be appealed.

In the event, it seems to me that commenting on issues doesn't require a suspension of common sense. Take the Paterno family, for instance. Are we really supposed to believe that they possess a silver bullet that would show the falsehood of the Freeh Report (thereby discrediting it in public opinion and helping to restore Paterno's reputation), but they have chosen not to release this information, for unspecified (and, frankly, in this instance, unfathomable) reasons? The Freeh Report's already been released: if it contains errors, there is no hand to tip.

To the 12.13:

I recall, sometime in fall 2006 as Nifong's case imploded, Bob Ashley and the H-S suddenly shifted gears, to say that we needed to let the process play out, and not rush to judgment. I didn't find that line of argument terribly persuasive.

On the Freeh Report & Paterno, it's worth pointing out the (highly, highly implausible) version of events that Paterno presented to the grand jury & the Washington Post interview: that he knew nothing of the 1998 investigation (other than, perhaps, an ephemeral rumor); and that he never inquired into what his superiors did about the 2001 report, because of his respect for procedure (this from the same figure who repeatedly intervened in disciplinary procedures to protect his players) and because he couldn't envision man-on-boy rape (this from a high-profile Catholic amidst massive years-long press coverage of the Church's coverup of child rape by priests). However clear or unclear the three contemporaneous e-mails were, they're clear enough to show that Paterno wasn't telling the truth about his level of knowledge/involvement in either 1998 or 2001.

The irony, of course: Paterno (who didn't know of the existence of these e-mails when he testified before the grand jury or when he did the Post interview) could have offered a more plausible tale: that he knew of the 1998 inquiry but accepted the decision not to prosecute & didn't look all that closely into details; and that he had conversations with his nominal superior about the 2001 inquiry but couldn't recall the specifics. But he didn't offer such a tale.

A final point: None of us, obviously, are privy to the legal strategies of Curley and Schultz. But I don't see a particular likelihood that we will or should learn from their trial any more of Paterno & the 1998 inquiry--a topic that, after all, has nothing to do with the charges against either Curley or Schultz.

Anonymous said...

Is McClain a Marxist?

Anonymous said...

I think having a variety of opinions expressed and discussed publicly by the PSU board has been helpful - even if some of the opinions have been based on incorrect facts and conclusions. Widely differing impressions of this whole affair still exist and continuing to air them, refute or support them is a healthy process.

Secretly arranged deals (the normal process for the NCAA) protect the power of the NCAA but also generate resentment and mistrust that linger for generations.

It is discouraging, though, to see a school be relatively open about the transgressions its former administrators are reported to have committed and as a result be severely punished in an unprecedented fashion. Especially, since other schools clam up, deny everything and escape severe punishment. I realize that the dismissed (or dead) individuals tried this approach initially and ultimately did not get away with it. PSU, however, could have continued that process and apparently chose not to.

That feeling is not an excuse for PSU but an expression that the NCAA is poorly positioned to investigate and discipline its members. Their brand of justice is severely flawed.

I do expect for every new scandal the NCAA ignores (see UNC), more and more sympathy will develop for the plight of the PSU athletes and the others that will suffer from the NCAA sanctions. While the PSU story may already be fixed and immutable for the general public, I believe the impressions sports fans have of the whole affair will continue to evolve.

guiowen said...

Actually, McCombie says he is only "temporarily suspending" the appeal.

Chris Halkides said...

With respect to the Freeh report, some errata were recently released. Walter Uhler wrote an essay that was critical of some of its conclusions.

Chris Halkides said...

This article might be helpful in beginning to understand the usual procedure. Michael McCann wrote, "Then comes the hearing, which resembles a trial or arbitration hearing. If the school is found to be at fault, it can appeal to the NCAA's Infractions Appeals Committee. Penn State did not receive 90 days to respond, nor did it get a trial or an opportunity to appeal."

The NCAA's FAQ web page used to read, "In determining the penalties for Penn State, the Executive Committee, Board and NCAA leadership considered numerous bylaws and portions of the constitution. Click here to see the full list of bylaws and constitutional articles that were breached." There was no link on which to click, and the NCAA has since deleted the last sentence.

KC Johnson said...

To the 1.36:

I agree completely with your comments on UNC--and can't help but wonder whether the university's and the NCAA's response would have been different if the affected department had been Biology rather than African-American Studies.

I also hope that one precedent of PSU isn't a belief that universities should avoid comprehensive inquiries, lest they be punished for doing so.

That said: it's not as if PSU would have avoided much (if not all) of the negative information coming out even if the university hadn't commissioned the Freeh Report. Criminal inquiries against Schultz and Curley continue, and victims' civil suits doubtless would have exposed some of the damning material (especially the Spanier- and Paterno-related emails). So Penn State had two bad options: a comprehensive inquiry that would, at the least, get everything out quickly; or not going the Freeh Committee route, hoping everything didn't come out, but having bad revelations drip-drip over months or years. From a tactical angle, I think Penn State's approach was correct.

To Chris:

Agreed that NCAA (of which I'm no fan) didn't follow normal procedures in this case. That said, given that Penn State signed a consent decree, there wouldn't have been an appeals process in this case anyway. Given the initial Emmert leader and the date of the Freeh Report, I think the 90-day response time was satisfied.

I read the Uhler post, which didn't seem terribly convincing (perhaps not surprising for a website that asserts that unnamed elements in the "news media" have "effectively framed" Paterno for unidentified "crimes"). Perhaps most problematic for a Paterno defender, he appears to concede that the Freeh Report's evidence shows that Paterno lied to the grand jury when he said he wasn't informed about the 1998 incident.

His claim that that the 1998 Curley e-mail about "Coach" might have referred to Sandusky rather than Paterno is, to put it mildly, not credible.

Anonymous said...

"So Penn State had two bad options: a comprehensive inquiry that would, at the least, get everything out quickly; or not going the Freeh Committee route, hoping everything didn't come out, but having bad revelations drip-drip over months or years. From a tactical angle, I think Penn State's approach was correct."

You may be correct. Employing a drip-drip method counts on the public to move onto other more current news items thereby minimizing the public relations impact of further revelations. Penn State probably had little hope of being buried on page 20 anytime soon. But the public is fickle. Two years from now we will have a better perspective.

Regardless, the NCAA seems to have acted/reacted in large part based on revelations in the report that would not have come out for a long time. And by that time, they may have already inflicted their punishments which may not have been as severe. If that is the case, PSU may have gotten lighter sanctions by stonewalling. Of course, there is the possibility that NCAA could have then doled out additional punishments. But looking at the UNC case so far, the NCAA seems to have little appetite for additional punishments even though a major part of the misdeeds were missed by them initially.

Chris Halkides said...

KC,

Both the NCAA and Penn State bear some responsibility for the circumventing of normal procedures IMO. Perhaps Penn State thought that if they fought the NCAA, it would appear that they are condoning child abuse. A more plausible defense of Coach Paterno with respect to the 1998 email is that Curley did not really speak to him, despite claiming otherwise. Mr. Uhler is a PSU alum, and he might not be entirely objective in this case; however, I have found some portions of his articles to be helpful in understanding this case.

Chris Halkides said...

The murder of Baylor basketball player Patrick Dennehy is a case in which the NCAA did not act quickly, nor sidestep its usual procedures, from what I can gather. The coach suggested that the players lie about Dennehy to cover up tuition payments made to him. I don't know much about NCAA rules, but it is easier to see that they were violated with respect to Baylor than with respect to PSU.

Kenneth Jones said...

Trustee Ryan McCombie is an "outlier" in the sense that Professor Coleman was am outlier. In both cases, rare leaders recognized a lack of due process and a lack of unbiased fact-finding had created a scenario where individuals (and in the case of Penn State - possibly even a university) were being "railroaded.".

My point is that the process being used to allegedly determine the truth is flawed at PSU. The case is far more nuanced than at Duke, but a better, independent review is necessary at PSU.

Chris Halkides said...

Professor of Law Richard Epsteinwrote, "Indeed, I would not be inclined to allow Penn State to waive the protection of the standard rules for this simple reason: the waiver can always be coerced. What party will not waive if it knows that the price for asserting procedural rights is a far heavier set of sanctions down the road?" He also wrote, "The institutional interests in fair process transcend the individual case, and require that all procedures be followed in this one, lest it be a precedent for the next case." The whole article is worth reading, IMO.

KC Johnson said...

To the 6.42:

It's worth comparing Coleman's initial response (http://durhamwonderland.blogspot.com/2006/06/coleman-tears-down-wall.html)--which contained a specific criticism of what procedures Nifong had violated, and how the violation of those procedures ensured that there was no way he could produce a fair result--to renegade Trustee McCombie's blustering letter, in which he claimed both unspecified due process violations & unspecified factual errors but couldn't identify any of them.

To Chris:

Epstein's article is quite interesting. And, as I've said before, I'm no fan of the NCAA in general; the Baylor case is a good example (along with USC, Ohio St., etc.) of the organization's ineffectiveness and kowtowing to big athletics schools.

That said, I'm not clear how a forced appeals process, of the type Epstein envisions, could have functioned in the Penn St. case.

In a normal NCAA case, the university does a self-report, and the NCAA responds to the report (almost always with a more comprehensive and more skeptical investigation) & imposes penalties. The university then--if it so desires--appeals, with the appeal focused on (1) challenging the interpretation or even factual conclusions of the NCAA inquiry; and (2) claiming the NCAA imposed excessive penalties.

In the PSU case, however, the NCAA (as is its right) fully accepted Penn State's self-report (the Freeh Report). So, as far as I can tell, PSU would have had no standing to appeal on factual grounds--a university can't "appeal" its own self-report.

What would have remained, then, would have been a PSU appeal of the penalties. Perhaps such an appeal would have succeeded (I've seen a couple of current or former Infractions Committee members who seemed amazingly sympathetic to PSU). But would any university--especially a public university reliant in part on taxpayers' dollars--have wanted to put itself in a position of publicly arguing that it's only appropriate to ban it from bowls for 2 years rather than 4 for its senior administrators not reporting alleged child molestation?

Law Offices of Nadrich & Cohen said...

espn, ugh

Anonymous said...

FYI, it appears UNC is going to escape punishment for two decades or more of academic fraud committed to allow athletes unable to perform academic work to remain in school. For the men's basketball team, UNC would not have to vacate two and perhaps three NCAA championships that had players that benefitted from the academic fraud.

How can anyone respect any thing the NCAA does after this?

KC Johnson said...

To the 10.20:

I completely agree.