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Almost since the day news broke of Jerry Sandusky's horrific abuse of children, many people--including some on this site--have called for Penn State's football team to pay the ultimate price in the form of a "death penalty."  Well, it turns out that the death penalty was indeed on the table.  Penn State president Rodney Erickson said that had he not signed the consent decree implementing some of the harshest sanctions in collegiate history--including a $60 million fine and a four-year bowl ban--Penn State was staring down the barrel of a death penalty.

“This is the decision you make: Accept the consent decree or the (NCAA) board will go in another direction,” Erickson said. “So we accepted that, and I signed it on behalf of the university (Sunday) night.”

“I think, generally speaking, that the community felt that playing was better than not playing,” Peetz said.

Erickson said Penn State could have faced a multiyear shutdown of football and still would have endured additional penalties had he not taken the NCAA’s terms.

“I accepted this consent decree on behalf of the university, knowing that if we did not accept the sanctions we most surely would have faced the death penalty for football over multiple years and the prospects of additional sanctions,” he said. “I felt, after conferring with board leadership and others, that it was in the best interest of the university to accept the sanctions that were offered rather than have the death penalty imposed on Penn State.”

Erickson went further in an interview with ESPN's John Barr, saying that Penn State could have faced as long as a four-year ban from play had it not accepted the sanctions.  NCAA president Mark Emmert subsequently told Pat Forde that Penn State saved itself by commissioning the Freeh report and accepting the sanctions that were imposed yesterday almost as they were originally proposed.

I have to admit, I'm surprised.   My impression was that Penn State had saved itself from a death penalty by not hiring one of Joe Paterno's assistants as his successor.  After all, it was obvious from the time the sanctions broke that Paterno's assistants all knew about their former comrade-in-arms' actions and yet did nothing.  It makes me wonder--what was so egregious that made the NCAA hang this sword of Damocles over Happy Valley?  Did players know about Sandusky's debauchery and not report it?  Or was it something else?

The NCAA made it clear it was out for bear--or in this case, lion--by vacating all of Joe Paterno's wins from 1998 to 2011.  As I mentioned yesterday, it seems that the NCAA felt that had Penn State exercised any sort of control over the football program, Paterno would have been fired for his assistants' knowing that Sandusky was taking little boys into the shower and not reporting it.  But the mere fact that the death penalty was still on the table, and that Penn State staved it off by essentially adopting the posture of supplicants begging for mercy, makes you wonder just what else the NCAA found out was happening in Happy Valley.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Please elucidate on one point: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    martini, Avilyn

    I know absolutely nothing about sports.  Would the "death penalty" have been worse than the sanctions?

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 07:17:48 AM PDT

    •  Death penalty would have meant (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jayden, glorificus, Avilyn, FG

      that the football program closed its doors for a period of time - suggested 4 years above.

      In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; but in practice, there always is a difference. - Yogi Berra En théorie, il n'y a aucune différence entre théorie et pratique, mais en pratique, il y a toujours une différence. - Yogi Berra

      by blue aardvark on Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 07:21:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Arguably, it could have destroyed the program (4+ / 0-)

      SMU, the only school in modern memory to receive the death penalty, has never recovered football-wise from receiving it, because it prompted the school to de-emphasize the football program in its abscence. And they only got a one year ban. Imagine what a four year ban could have done for Penn State.

      One could argue, however, that the actual punishment is worse than the death penalty. Penn State's football program is essentially crippled for decades and Paterno's legacy has been swept away and left in ashes.

    •  Depends on how long. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      glorificus, Cassandra Waites

      If the death penalty had lasted the 1-5 years that seems to have been under serious consideration, I don't think it would have, for reasons I lay out in this comment. They would have been able to bounce back after the "death penalty" time was up, proclaim themselves absolved, and the football-mad Penn State machine would be up and running again without any institutional change and ready to be a top-tier program again.

      If it had been longer—say, the better part of a decade or more—I think it would have been worse than the sanctions. But I haven't seen any evidence that a penalty of that magnitude was ever under serious consideration.

      "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

      by JamesGG on Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 07:41:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  That's easy (8+ / 0-)
    It makes me wonder--what was so egregious that made the NCAA hang this sword of Damocles over Happy Valley?
    Public outrage nationally was so intense in this case that the NCAA -- which normally takes months or even years to reach this kind of finding -- could have ordered Beaver Stadium dismantled and some people would have still thought it wasn't enough.

    The fact that the NCAA moved so quickly is a testament to that outrage. The NCAA still hasn't issued penalties for the extremely egregious violations committed by the University of Miami, violations that ought to cause that program to be shut down.

    •  Are you serious? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FG
      The NCAA still hasn't issued penalties for the extremely egregious violations committed by the University of Miami, violations that ought to cause that program to be shut down.
      Recruiting violations and giving cash to underpriveledged kids who are only at school to play FOOTBALL is extremely egregious to shut dow U of M football, but what PSU did is NOT?!!!!

      Where are our priorities?

      Never underestimate stupid. Stupid is how reTHUGlicans win!

      by Mannie on Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 07:53:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Commenter didn't say that. (6+ / 1-)

        He said nothing about whether what Penn State did deserved sanction, just commented on the speed with which the NCAA moved in this case compared to a current long-running investigation of U of M.

        Your constant posts in these Penn State diaries, along with your scare capitalization of "FOOTBALL" consistently, smacks of an agenda that has nothing to do with child sexual abuse.

        What, exactly, are your priorities here.  Beyond protecting children, a noble goal that we all share?

        •  Maybe I think priorities need to be re-evaluated (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          btfsilence

          And I wonder about the AGENDA that some people have in trying to defend the playing of a game at almost all costs.

          I wonder about your AGENDA that you make an accusation like this about me without even reading any of diaries or other posts.

          I am guessing that I am not alone when I say that I am saddened that many people still think that playing a game is one of the most important things in the world.

          When people put the protection of a football program ahead of protecting vulnerable children, a messege needs to be sent.  Those childrens childhoods were basically destroyed.  Why shouldn't that precious football program be forced to suffer the same fate?  

          BTW I am a big football fan, but I do realize that there are PRIORITIES.  As such entertainment is WAY down the list in what is truly important.

          Never underestimate stupid. Stupid is how reTHUGlicans win!

          by Mannie on Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 08:25:54 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Unfortunately... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mannie

          to a lot of people, protecting the Penn State football program is far more important than protecting children.

          •  When people try to stiffle dissent with statements (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            downsouth, quaoar

            such as, "they care more about football, or Paterno, or PSU than they do about abused children", then that is what is "unfortunate".

            It is possible to care 100% about the children who were abused, and still disagree with focus of the investigation.

            I, for one, believe "protecting children" in Pa. is going to involve a hell of a lot more than blaming this entire scandal on PSU football.  I get it that others disagree.  But, I don't think simply because you think this is all about PSU football means you care less about the children and the truth.

            •  I'm not sure why you think I think this is just... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Mannie, taffers

              about PSU football.  I think others including Tom Corbett, Child protective services should be held accountable as well.  Of course, no one defends them.

              Everyone seems to defend JOe Paterno and PSU football though.  So I do question whether those people "care 100% about the children" when the bulk of their energy is spent defending PSU football and Paterno.

              •  I guess we all simple see what we want too... (0+ / 0-)

                I've been frustrated with the focus being so completely on PSU and Paterno.

                I guess others see those calling the focus unbalanced to the detriment of finding the truth, to be an unhealthy "defense" of PSU/Paterno.

                Hopefully, we both simply want the truth, the guilty punished, and corrective measures put in place that keep this from occurring again.

        •  Hide Rated... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mannie

          for insinuating that the poster has an agenda.

          If we are going to play that game, then your agenda smacks of defending child rape.  

          •  I didn't... (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            taffers, Glacial Erratic, quaoar

            "insinuate" anything.  I made a clear statement of my opinion regarding that particular poster, and the agenda that is apparent in his posts on this subject.  You might disagree with that opinion, but HRing for disagreement is against site policy.

            As for "defending child rape", as a survivor of that particular crime I will not dignify it with a response.  That comment says much more about you than me, and I trust that most Kossacks will see that and treat you accordingly in their interactions with you.

            •  Graham Spanier also claims to be a victim of child (0+ / 0-)

              abuse.  Being a victim doesn't give you a free pass to defend institutions that engage in covering up the rapes of others.

              Nor does it give you license to accuse people who disagree with your view of somehow having agendas. Your defending PSU football rather than the actual victims in this case, and attacking those who disagree, does say much more about you than about me.

              I have no doubt that "most kossacks" will see it that way.  Those outside the PSU cult, at least.

              •  Please do show me... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                quaoar

                where I have ever defended Penn State football.  I made a comment defending a poster who also did not defend Penn State football...his comment concerned the speed at which the NCAA came to its decision, and made no comment on the appropriateness of the sanctions.  You are simply reading what you want to read into my comments.

                And as for this:

                Graham Spanier also claims to be a victim of child abuse
                Fuck you.
  •  Don't understand "vacating" the records. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Avilyn

    For ever from now there will be an asterick on the most wins, etc.

    Notice: This Comment © 2012 ROGNM

    by ROGNM on Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 07:24:40 AM PDT

  •  I think that they took the deal because (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mannie, Avilyn

    more damning info is on the way.

    "Drudge: soundslike sludge, islike sewage."
    (-7.25, -6.72)

    by gougef on Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 07:24:47 AM PDT

  •  Do they play other sports at Penn? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mannie, Quicklund

    Boy, you sure wouldn't think so. Maybe there's other things besides football?

    Happy just to be alive

    by exlrrp on Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 07:25:17 AM PDT

  •  So nice of the NCAA to give them an option (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mannie, btfsilence

    Too bad the kids didn't get the choice of whether they wanted that giant old guy to rape them.

    There should have been no choice. The program should have been banned for a minimum of 50 years.

    Now we know that losing a few football games is the price the NCAA exacts for running a child rape house for years.

    "Who is John Galt?" A two dimensional character in a third rate novel.

    by Inventor on Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 07:32:55 AM PDT

  •  New term...Zombie Penalty (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    idbecrazyif, Cassandra Waites

    Penn St football will be a living dead for several years.

    Courtesy of my freshman in college son.

    WTF!?!?!?! When did I move to the Republic of Gilead?!

    by IARXPHD on Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 07:56:22 AM PDT

  •  No it does not make me wonder that at all (11+ / 0-)

    The fact PSU was told the death penalty might be used if they did not agree to the NCAA sanctions makes me think the NCAA had a damn good game plan. There are two essential goals here and the NCAA has addressed both.

    * For the past, PSU must be punished significantly for their crimes.

    * For the future, PSU and every other school must be crystal clear on the point that cooperation will always be the better choice than conspiracy.

    The NCAA is not an arm of the law. Technically they cannot compel PSU to pay the $60 million fine. It does not carry the burden of law like a fine issued by a judge from the bench. Technically, PSU has voluntarily  agreed to pay the fine and meet the other conditions. This is the price PSU must pay to remain a part of the NCAA.

    Now obviously PSU wants very much to be part of the NCAA. PSU would remain a part of the NCAA even had the death penalty been applied. The point is this.

    The NCAA has hurt PSU with serious punishment. At the same time the NCAA has PSU in full cooperation mode today. Both goals are being met. Past crimes have been punished, and future cooperation has been nurtured.

    The way to prevent future scandal is for coaches and ADs to completely understand that coming clean and cooperation will always be the best way to "protect the program".

    Yes, PSU's cooperation here came late in the game. But they did cooperate by not fighting against the Freeh Report. The NCAA did not apply the 'death penalty', but it still holds that punishment in reserve to assure continued compliance.

    So what I see here is direct and straightforward. The NCAA has made very good use of both carrot and stick in the matter of forcing culture change at PSA ... and all NCAA campii.

    No mysterious CT needed.

    •  Well said. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Quicklund, ChocolateChris

      Thank you for a sane comment.

    •  Then why the need to threaten greater penalities (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Quicklund, sunny skies

      if the appealed?

      •  If they appealed, they would not be cooperating (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Remembering Jello

        Not in the sense I meant it. Appealing the sanctions is being defensive, not cooperating. Here PSU has been encouraged to cooperate from the moment the NCAA sanctions were announced.

        I think it was Churchill who called this sort of thing "enlightened self-interest."

        •  But the "appeal process" is built into the (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sunny skies

          NCAA by laws.  Prior to this, the NCAA has never said a school wasn't cooperating if it appealed.  Schools do this all the time as a way to show evidence that the NCAA may have overreached.  Sometimes a schools wins; sometimes it doesn't.  Never has the NCAA tacked on more penalities if a school appealed.  Hell, the schools set up and pay for the NCAA to exist.  

          To tell a school they face harsher penalities if the appeal is unheard of and nothing short of blackmail.

          •  This is not a routine infraction is it? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            leu2500

            Furthermore and separately, the point is a change to the way things were done in the past.

            •  Obviously not a "routine infraction", (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              sunny skies

              but we are being told the NCAA disregarded their own rules and procedures and threatened PSU with the ultimate penality if they appealed.

              To simply accept that the NCAA has all the information, even stuff no one else does, and to accept they are infallible in this decision, seems insane to me.  

              And one would have to accept them as infallible if their decisions can not be appealed.

              I'm simply not ok with a large organization saying, you will do exactly what we tell you, and if you even slightly question any of our ruling, we will end your program.  I'm sure there are a lot of judges out there that would love to have this power over those they ruled against.

              •  Once again (0+ / 0-)
                The NCAA is not an arm of the law. Technically they cannot compel PSU to pay the $60 million fine. It does not carry the burden of law like a fine issued by a judge from the bench. Technically, PSU has voluntarily  agreed to pay the fine and meet the other conditions.
                The NCAA is using the carrot and the stick. Just the way it is used millions of times a year with people on probation. Cooperate and things wll go better for you.

                You seem to think the world owes PSU an obligation to bend over backwards. That puts you in a small population.

                If you are unwilling to try to understand - and it seems that you are unwilling to try -  then that's something you will have to overcome. I cannot aid you past this point.

          •  The blackmail crack is entirely w/o merit (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Mannie

            My eye skipped that part when I posted my other reply. It is such bass-ackwards comment it deserves special mention.

            Blackmail? Really?  Criminals do not get to cry out "blackmail" when the told they will be sent to prison if they violate their probation. Blackmail?

            To claim PSU is being blackmailed is a disgusting claim. Disgusting.

            •  Please...stop with the histrionics. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              sunny skies

              The NCAA has a set of procedures in place when handing down sanctions.  All members are aware of how these procedures work.  For the 1st time in its history, the NCAA tells a school, "Appeal and we will end your program".  Again, 1st time ever!!!!  Until today, all members had the right to appeal, without the threat of greater sanctions.

              Not exactly what the legal defination of "blackmail" is, but I'll bet this comes pretty damn close.

              •  Blackmail IS hisronics (0+ / 0-)

                Physician, heal thyself

                •  Then what the hell word do you use when someone (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  sunny skies

                  says, "if you do what I tell you, you get a penality.  If you appeal (which is part of the process), I will destroy you".

                  I call that "blackmail".  As in, "stay quite, and don't question us or we will destroy you".

                  And since this NCAA action has never been used, I would think people would want to understand why.  Even the PSU President said the NCAA gave him no choice.  It is concerning.

                  Not sure why you would take such offense?

              •  "Plead guilty and we'll give ya probation, (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Inventor, janmtairy, BleacherBum153

                take this to trial and you'll do ten years"

                I dunno- happened to me once...

                Didn't FEEL like blackmail...

                •  If this was how they always did things, I would (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  sunny skies

                  agree.  But they have gone beyond their own by laws.  Never has a school been told they can't appeal a NCAA decision.  It is the schools right, not the NCAA's to give or not give.

                  What would the purpose of the appeal process be if the threat was there that they could impose harsher penalities if you appealed.  Noone would ever appeal, and almost every school appeals something the NCAA hands down.  Sometimes they win; sometimes they don't.  But they don't risk greater penalities if they appeal.

                  •  ...and now they do. Who cares? n/t (0+ / 0-)
                    •  Well, apparently I do... (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      sunny skies, downsouth

                      I feel I'm being forced to accept a story by a group of men who are protecting others more powerful than even the PSU folks.

                      I am starting to feel like I'm tilting at windmills here.

                      I see dragons damnit.  Why can't everybody else?

                      I'm going to take a break from this story for my on sanity.  It's just that I don't think we have really learned what happened, why it was allowed to happen, and who allowed it to happen.  If I'm wrong, so be it.  But if I'm right, the children of Pa. are no less safe today.

                      And unlike some who accuse me of "not caring about the children", because I don't think PSU has been handled correctly, I do believe those who think this is over care aboyt the children as much as I do.

                  •  Those football programs (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Mannie

                    weren't always running a child rape house. Full ejection from the NCAA for 50+ years would have been correct.

                    Instead the NCAA has said that if you run a child rape house and get caught, your team will lose more games for a few years.

                    "Who is John Galt?" A two dimensional character in a third rate novel.

                    by Inventor on Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 10:18:45 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  If you will continue to show such passion against (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      sunny skies

                      all the other programs, groups, and individuals that allowed this to happen, and hold them to account, as you have PSU, I have no problem with your comment

                    •  That comment... (0+ / 0-)

                      is as ridiculous now as it was the first ten times you said it.  Why are you so dead set against underprivileged kids getting scholarships to attend college?  Because the loss of those scholarships would be the result of what you propose.

                      Like it or not, and its pretty obvious where you stand, college football isn't going anywhere.  Personally, I'm glad for that, because I'm a fan...though not a Penn State fan.  Some men made some horrible decisions to cover up for a child rapist in order to protect their legacy.  It wasn't the program itself that did this.  It wasn't the thousands of student-athletes coached by Joe Paterno since the 1950's.  And it wasn't the current student-athletes who came to Penn State to play for JoePa.

                      The sanctions are plenty severe, in many ways worse than the death penalty, and are smartly targeted at changing the culture that allowed this tragedy to occur, without punishing innocent young students who had nothing to do with either the sex crimes or the cover up.

          •  You're right (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Mannie

            The NCAA should have just ejected Penn State because they ran a child rape house.

            "Who is John Galt?" A two dimensional character in a third rate novel.

            by Inventor on Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 10:11:56 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Almost seems as if the NCAA blackmailed PSU into (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sunny skies

    accepting the sanctions.  

    It sure seems that a lot of powerful people want this investigation to end.  If PSU would have appealed, there would have been more evidence presented.

    If The NCAA has information that the public doesn't, then this scandal continues to creep into other areas.  And why would they be able to keep that information to themselves.  They blackmailed them to keep from appealing.  Never before has the NCAA told a school if the appeal a penality, they risk greater penalities.  What the hell good would the appeal process even be if they could use this "sword"

    There is so much more to this scandal than a football program.  And until all the details of who knew what and how they responded, and what government agencies were involved, no child in Pa. is any safer today than yesterday.

    •  NCAA has nothing to do with the (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      leu2500, Quicklund, FG

      criminal investigation.

      I can only hope that some people will learn from this to report the crimes, too often someone knew and was afraid to talk.

      This better be good. Because it is not going away.

      by DerAmi on Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 08:06:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  But how can the NCAA say, "appeal and we will hit (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sunny skies

        you harder".  I have never heard of them doing this.  They want this thing to die quickly.  Why?

        •  Well, the students who had decided to go (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Quicklund

          to PU to play football get to transfer. They are innocent in this afterall and do deserve the chance and time required to make those decision. I certainly wouldn't say either that the NCAA doesn't want this past them sooner than later. I would argue that the decision wasn't harsh enough. And I doubt there will be a quick end to the investigation, nomatter what the NCAA does.

          This better be good. Because it is not going away.

          by DerAmi on Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 08:15:11 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  SOP with NCAA (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Quicklund

          Traditionally, if a school cooperates & is willing to take its medicine when it comes to football/basketball vilolations they come out better than if they deny, stonewall, etc.  

          Republicans: if they only had a heart.

          by leu2500 on Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 08:40:07 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Because they don't want to piss off the big (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          taffers

          money schools by implementing harsh penalties on Penn State.

          But at the same time, they need to have some serious penalties to maintain any type of credibility with the general public.  

  •  I wonder if the Hall of Fame will remove Joe (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe, leu2500, Avilyn, Mannie

    With the wins vacated, seems to me he should be removed.

    I may stroll by there this afternoon, I work a block from the place.

    --Enlighten the people, generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like spirits at the dawn of day. - Thomas Jefferson--

    by idbecrazyif on Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 08:04:07 AM PDT

  •  Impact on the community (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Grassroots Mom, Glacial Erratic

    I believe, and I have  been told this by someone in State College, that the university accepted this deal because the death penalty, with 4 years of NO football at all, would have been a death knell for many, many business in State College that exist pretty much solely to serve the fans who come to the football games in the fall.  It's like any seasonal business - their season is not the summer, as it would be at the beach, but the fall, which makes them the money to get through the rest of the year.  

    That's not to say there might not have been other considerations, but I think this was a very major one.

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