Does The NCAA Have the Authority to Punish Penn State w/r/t/ the Sandusky Affair?

I’m not saying they shouldn’t be punished, just that I don’t see how this falls into the purview of the NCAA. It’s a criminal matter that has been adjudicated in the courts. Do the NCAA bylaws allow them to punish programs on top of criminal proceedings?

They can be kicked out of the league for a number of years. That’s the worst thing that the NCAA tends to do.

Under which rules? I would imagine everything Penn State has done in the recent past is being scrutinized, but the horrors that Sandusky committed didn’t involve recruitment, eligibility or impermissible player benefits. Does the NCAA have a rule that covers concealment of felonies by anyone associated with a program? If they don’t, I’m sure they’ll have one in the future.

Here is a PDF copy of the letter sent to the president of Penn State from the president of the NCAA. The letter refers to the parts of the NCAA Constitution and bylaws that may have been violated by Penn State. So certainly the NCAA can punish Penn State.

Sanctions often take into account criminal behavior of players (DWI, assaults, theft, etc.) Granted this is usually in the case of repeat offenses under the standard of lack of institutional control. If a minimum of 48 pedophilic sexual assaults don’t demonstrate a lack of institutional control, I don’t know what the fuck does. Even if you can’t find a specific rule that addresses this, this is the time to make an exception. I don’t care if you have to twist a rule into a pretzel to do what’s right. The program, like the offender, deserves the death penalty. I realize innocent players will suffer, but they can blame their disgraceful coach. Innocent players always suffer when a program is sanctioned. It was blind devotion to on-field success that led to this. Shut it down.

The NCAA is a voluntary organization. If they overstep their bounds too far, then in theory a lot of universities would leave and organize a competing voluntary standards body.

It’s hard to imagine what kind of response to the Penn State scandal would be so extreme as to cause a significant number of schools to leave the NCAA to join PSU in a new organization. If something like this happened, they’d have to be really careful to pick an acronym that couldn’t be twisted in anyway into labeling their group as the pro child-raping one, in contrast with the anti child-raping NCAA. It would take five minutes for some wit to go from American Collegiate Athletics Organization --> ACAO --> All Childrens’ Asses are Ours, and they’re sunk forever. I don’t see it happening; PSU may argue and complain, but in the end they’ll deal with whatever sanctions the NCAA hands out, precedented or not.

NCAA may have no legal authority, but it certainly has political clout with university athletics.

New York Times op-ed guy Joe Nocera has been ragging on NCAA lately for that, for major perceived abuses of that power and injustices that they do.

Here’s one of his columns on the subject, for example: “Standing Up to the N.C.A.A.” (March 23, 2012). (Article also includes a link to a NYT search for other related columns.)

So they might well have some clout and influence with the response they choose to make over the Penn “situation”, should they choose to go that route. (ETA: Maybe then Joe will be happy?)

If Sandusky did anything while an official (coaching position) how is that different from say, a player DUI? Plus the accusations against Paterno and the charges pending against other officials relating to the coverup… I would say there are ample grounds for discipline. The question is, do you screw over dozens of kids’ (sorry) academic and athletic careers due to staff misbehavior?

I would suggest sanctions against the university officials should do.

It’s not like they’re Duke Lacrosse and all innocent…

What is the “death penalty” for a university? I’ve read an article that Penn State should suspend its football program for a year so that they don’t suffer the “death penalty.”

Does the “death penalty” mean no more football for all of eternity?

No. The “death penalty” means that the NCAA bans a school from participating in a sport for at least one year. Once the time is up, they can have team. However, it can take many years to rebuild a program after that.

I seriously doubt any school in the NCAA would raise a fuss if they give Penn State the death penalty. They would look like they were supporting child abuse, and they can say that “nothing like that can happen here” (though they may be fooling themselves in that).

They should make it ten years.

This was hushed up specifically because they didn’t want to cast a negative light on Joe Paterno, PSU football, the athletic program in general. Sports are often touted for their emphasis on teamwork and leadership abilities and that’s how universities justify spending millions on the playing of games. While there was definitely teamwork here, leadership was sorely lacking.

Football coaches like to trumpet that they are “building men”. No thanks, we don’t want any of those.

Your question is very valid but has no clear answer. The NY Times ran an article specifically about this today.

It’s a very murky area. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

If the PSU program were to receive the Death Penalty, could the NCAA spare the players in some way? For example; forcing PSU to honor their scholarships, or allowing them to transfer to other programs?

The death penalty is similar to what they did to SMU. A ban from playing for at least a year, loss of scholarships for a few more, no penalty for players who transfer (which they will do en masse.) The result, if anything like SMU, would be football purgatory for a decade or more.

The players could transfer immediately without having to lose a year of eligibility.

Joe Nocera, NYT op-ed columnist, discusses.

(Summary: Yes, Joe would be happy to see NCAA throw the book at Penn State.)

Absolutely. The NCAA president has discussed this.

Ohio State receivedharsh penalties for “failure to monitor” their football program, for a series of incidents which seem trivial in comparison to the Penn State scandal.

Penn State’s failure to comply with federal reporting requirements, particularly the Clery Act, may by itself be sufficient grounds for serious penalties from the NCAA.

One year is plenty, with the ‘death penalty’, believe me. SMU has still not come anywhere near recovering after, what, fifteen years? And maybe never will. When you get the death penalty, all your scholarship players flee the jurisdiction like rats fleeing a sinking ship. (What are they going to do–stay and pay for a year of their schooling? When other schools will be happy to take them on? Anybody who made the PSU team will be more than good enough for most other schools.) Then, you have no team to point to when you start recruiting again the next year. Most good players will prefer to go almost anywhere else than join a program that will be rebuilding for years–possibly even to Division IA or even Division II schools. So your program ends up with a handful of athletes who mostly aren’t capable of competing at the Division I level, especially in a tough conference like the Big Ten. Your team goes 1-11 (0-8 conference), and your recruiting the next year is even tougher. Eventually, you’re forced to drop out of your big-time conference and join the MAC or something, and your program is second-tier forever.

Michael Ventre of NBC Sports argued (convincingly, IMO) that the NCAA has every right to punish Penn State because they gained competitive advantage (or avoided competitive disadvantage) by hiding this. As others have noted above, there are plenty of broad rules like “lack of institutional controls” that the NCAA can rightly find were violated.

From Ventre’s article:

And a little nitpick: the death penalty isn’t similar to what they did to SMU, it is exactly what they did to SMU.

Hmmm… No job for a year, then no prospect of a first tier job for the forseeable future. That will an good incentive for your lower level people to report wrongdoing and turn in higher-level people they see doing something illegal…

If instead of allegations that the higher-ups covered it up, we simply had victims coming forward this year to allege Sandusky assaulted them, if we hadn’t had a janitor and an assistant coach reporting misbehaviour - then there would be no grounds to punish the team…

Here’s a though. Punish the people responsible for the mess, not some training staff, or a guy who fights his way into another college scholarship then gets bumped by a defecting college star.