Is Penn State Any Of The NCAA’s Business?

November 24, 2011

Jerry Sandusky, PSU Football

When the Penn State mess exploded, a lot of us said: “The people at Ohio State or Miami or Indiana have to be saying, `Come on, what are they gonna do to punish them for THAT?!?'”

But when the NCAA announced that it would be investigating the Nittany Lion program, it seemed a little odd. Was it appropriate for the NCAA to be investigating before the criminal cases run their course?

That’s a question that Inside Higher Ed notes in a lengthy article:

And the association, which in the past has purposefully stayed out of situations that involved potential criminal or civil wrongdoing until the legal process worked itself through, is inserting itself into the Penn State case right alongside pending criminal, civil, local and federal investigations.

What’s the big deal? If this isn’t an argument for an “institutional control” investigation, what is?

Penn State clearly had no control over its football program. And college athletics’ governing body clearly has a right obligation to look into what happened in Happy Valley to see if they ran afoul of the NCAA’s bylaws.


Not necessarily, say legal experts quoted in the Inside Higher Ed story. They say the NCAA has now crossed a line – and there will be real and difficult challenges in deciding where that line should be drawn in the future:

David L. Swank of the University of Oklahoma’s law school: “If you step across this line, where do you stop? Is it only criminal activity involving coaches? Administrators? Students? You’ve crossed the Rubicon, and where do you end up?”

And which crimes? Felonies? Class A felonies? Moving violations? Things that make college athletics look really, really, really bad?

This whole thing speaks to the absurdity of the NCAA’s governance system. After all, if Sandusky had bought his cornerbacks a sandwich or two, the NCAA would be quite cross with Penn State and well within their rights to investigate.

This? Nobody knows quite what they should do. Read the full Inside Higher Ed article linked above. Both sides are laid out nicely.

One idea: Let the legal matters run their course. Let Louis Freeh finish his investigation. And then the NCAA can figure out what – if anything – to do to the football program.


About Tony

Founder of Ball Eight.

View all posts by Tony

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