I agree that ANYONE at Penn State who knew about the inhumane crimes of Jerry Sandusky and did not report him to law enforcement should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. However, the NCAA has no justifiable reason to sanction Penn State for the crimes of Sandusky and the alleged Penn St. cover-up.
No evidence has been presented or discussed that anyone at Penn State broke any written NCAA rules or by-laws — which is why NCAA President Mark Emmert had to go “to the board of trustees of the NCAA for authority to levy penalties,” including the crippling sanctions announced this morning. Further, I totally agree with my former law professor and former NCAA infractions chairman, Prof. David Swank, who states that the omissions of the Penn State administration are “not an enforcement issue. There are other venues to take care of the problems that occurred at Penn State, and one of those is not the NCAA.”
If the NCAA can punish Penn State for Sandusky’s heinous crimes and the alleged illegal and immoral cover-up, then what will stop the NCAA from punishing schools for other non-sports, illegal and immoral transgressions. For example, if the NCAA can punish Penn State in this instance, then shouldn’t a program like the University of Arkansas face penalties? After all, former head coach Bobby Patrino hired his mistress (both an immoral and illegal act) and lied to law enforcement(illegal act) after a motorcycle accident exposed the affair, and then covered up their relationship after the motorcycle accident.
In closing, I admit that the NCAA penalties may seem logical and reasonable given the serious nature of Jerry Sandusky’s transgressions. However, in America, people and institutions normally are not subjected to penalties or punishments “ex post facto,” or after the fact. In other words, to punish someone even though their conduct — no matter how bad — did not violate an already standing, written law/rule is a violation of basic due process. So, while the Penn State tragedy is probably the worst individual school scandal in modern college sports history, the penalties imposed by the NCAA appear to be just another NCAA opportunity to grandstand, show that it is above-the-law, and make and enforce its rules in its own discretion without government oversight. With this precedent, and given the illegal, immoral actions and/or “football first culture” that occur every day in athletic departments across the Nation, NCAA President Mark Emmert should have a very busy year during 9 a.m. press conferences.
Damario Solomon-Simmons, M.Ed., J.D., is the managing partner of SolomonSimmonsSharrock & Associates law firm, an adjunct professor of African & African-American Studies at the University of Oklahoma, and a former D-1 football player at the University of Oklahoma. He regularly writes and lectures on issues of race, sports, public policy, and social justice. His life’s mission is to inform, inspire, and empower. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org