Wednesday, July 18, 2012

NCAA Limited In Options Regarding Penn State

Story first reported from USA TODAY

Though the NCAA's president says all options will be considered, college sports' governing body may have few options when it comes to punishing Penn State's football program in the wake of its child sex abuse scandal, according to those who have defended and helped sanction NCAA rule breakers.

Former NCAA infractions committee chairmen and investigators condemn what happened at Penn State according to the report by former FBI director Louis Freeh — Penn State senior leaders concealing information that could have stopped Jerry Sandusky from sexually abusing children. But they say one significant challenge looms for the NCAA: finding an NCAA rules violation.

Because Penn State's transgressions might not involve violating traditional NCAA bylaws, leveling sanctions might require the NCAA enforcement staff to alter how it holds programs accountable and for what behavior. Mike Glazier, an attorney who represents schools during NCAA investigations, said it would be unprecedented for the NCAA to get involved, or to apply their enforcment procedures.

One possibility is for the NCAA to hit Penn State with lack of institutional control — a charge that historically warrants harsh penalties such as those recently levied against Ohio State and Southern Califiornia — but that dubious distinction has always been tied to other specific rules violations, said Tom Yeager, a former chair of the infractions committee.

Chuck Smrt, who was employed by the NCAA's enforcement staff for more than 17 years, said the NCAA in the past has addressed situations involving school officials concealing information related to potential NCAA violations. But Smrt, who now assists universities with compliance and investigations as president of The Compliance Group, did not recall the NCAA ever addressing situations involving school officials concealing information related to potential criminal activity.

Penn State is preparing for some kind of NCAA action. The school spokesman, David La Torre, said they are in the process of engaging counsel.  
School President Rodney Erickson told the Associated Press that it will respond to the NCAA's demand for information within days as the governing body decides whether the university should face penalties. In November, Emmert sent the school a list of questions he wanted answered that would examine the institutional control.

No one disputes that the Penn State case represents an unprecedented set of circumstances involving egregious behavior that occurred over a long period and saw a football community at times permitted to operate by its own set of rules within the university. Memphis Employment Lawyers represent an array of individuals who have found themselves in an uncomfortable employment disagreement, and say the NCAA's action will be against the school and program itself, individual reparations would be a decision of Penn State's.

The NCAA informed Penn State in November that that the NCAA would be examining the "exercise of institutional control" within the Penn State athletics department. And the NCAA said last week that it expects Penn State to answer a handful of critical questions related to its handling of the sex-abuse scandal.
A public debate has raged on Twitter and in the news media in recent weeks over whether Penn State should be the second major college football team to receive the so-called death penalty. In the late 1980s, Southern Methodist became the only major college football team ever forced to drop the sport for a period of time because of widespread NCAA violations.

Programs usually come under consideration for the death penalty if they are repeat violators, meaning that the respective universities had other major rules violations in the previous five years. But Smrt and Yeager said the death penalty is always an option when the infractions committee decides how to punish schools in cases that involve major violations.

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