NCAA Football

Source: PSU not facing 'death penalty' Monday

07/23 8:13 AM

The NCAA will announce "corrective and punitive measures" for Penn State on Monday morning, it said in a statement, with CBS News reporting the penalties to be "unprecedented," affecting the football program and the school.

NCAA president Mark Emmert has decided to punish Penn State with severe penalties likely to include a significant loss of scholarships, multiple bowls financial penalties, sources close to the decision have told ESPN's Joe Schad.

But Penn State will not receive the so-called "death penalty" that would have suspended the program for at least one year, a source said Sunday.

The penalties, however, are considered to be so harsh that the death penalty may have been preferable, a source said.

The NCAA will announce "corrective and punitive measures" for Penn State on Monday morning, it said in a statement Sunday. Emmert will reveal the sanctions at 9 a.m. ET in Indianapolis at the organization's headquarters along with Ed Ray, the chairman of the NCAA's executive committee, and Oregon State's president, the news release said.

It is expected the NCAA Division I Board of Directors and/or the NCAA Executive Committee has granted Emmert the authority to punish through nontraditional methods, a source told Schad.

Penn State athletics has been given no indication from the NCAA about what sanctions or penalties will be levied on the department and football program Monday, a source with direct knowledge of the situation in State College told ESPN.com's Andy Katz on Sunday night. If this were a traditional infractions case, the athletic department would know up to 24 hours in advance.

The NCAA's announcement will follow a day after Penn State removed Joe Paterno's statue outside Beaver Stadium, a decision that came 10 days after the scathing report by former FBI director Louis J. Freeh found that Paterno, with three other top Penn State administrators, had concealed allegations of child sexual abuse made against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. The Freeh report concluded their motive was to shield the university and its football program from negative publicity.

The NCAA is taking unprecedented measures with the decision to penalize Penn State without the due process of a Committee on Infractions hearing.

The NCAA has a system in place in which it conducts its own investigations, issues a notice of allegations and then allows the university 90 days to respond before a hearing is scheduled.

Following the hearing, the Infractions Committee then usually takes a minimum of six weeks, but it can take upwards of a year to issue its findings.

But in the case of Penn State, the NCAA appears to be using the Freeh report -- commissioned by the school's board of trustees -- instead of its own investigation, before handing down sanctions.

"Unbelievable," said a Penn State trustee informed of the NCAA statement, speaking to ESPN.com senior writer Don Van Natta Jr. "Unbelievable, unbelievable."

The Penn State trustees' hope that the statue's removal might send a positive message was trumped by the NCAA, which had already decided.

"Emmert has been given full reign by the pansy presidents (at other universities) to make his own decision," said the trustee, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "He has been given the authority to impose these unprecedented sanctions. It's horrible."

A trustee said Penn State has hired Gene Marsh, a lawyer for Lightfoot, Franklin & White in Birmingham, Ala., and a former member and chair of the NCAA Infractions committee. Last week, ESPN contacted Marsh, who also previously represented former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel, and he refused to confirm or deny he had been retained by Penn State.

The trustee said the full board has not been told of details of the Emmert decision, and that if anyone knows details, it would be the board's executive committee.

A former Committee on Infractions chairman and current Division I Appeals Committee member told ESPN.com's Katz the NCAA's penalizing of an institution and program for immoral and criminal behavior also breaks new ground.

The former chair, who has been involved with the NCAA for nearly three decades, said he couldn't use his name on the record since the case could come before him and the committee he still serves on in an appeals process.

"This is unique and this kind of power has never been tested or tried," the former chair said. "It's unprecedented to have this extensive power. This has nothing to do with the purpose of the infractions process. Nevertheless, somehow (the NCAA president and executive board) have taken it on themselves to be a commissioner and to penalize a school for improper conduct."

NCAA presidents past and present have made a point of saying they are not akin to a commissioner in professional sports and don't have the power to penalize players, coaches or schools independently.

The former chair said the only "rule" that the NCAA could be holding onto here is a lack of institutional control.

"I would be surprised if they're treating this as simply a lack of institutional control under the rules," the former chair said. "Because then that would technically go through the committee."

The chair said that the NCAA is choosing to deal with a case that is outside the traditional rules or violations. He said this case does not fall within the basic fundamental purpose of NCAA regulations.

"The purpose of the NCAA is to keep a level playing field among schools and to make sure they use proper methods through scholarships and etcetera," the chair said. "This is not a case that would normally go through the process. It has nothing to do with a level playing field. It has nothing to do with whether Penn State gets advantages over other schools in recruiting or in the number of coaches or things that we normally deal with."

The former chair said as an example the NCAA didn't get involved in the murder of Yeardley Love, a women's lacrosse player at Virginia, by her former boyfriend, a male lacrosse player at Virginia.

"The real question is whether or not under the overall rules and regulations of the NCAA do those in charge take action when it doesn't fall within the scope and realm of the normal infractions process," the former chair said. "This has nothing to do with a level playing field or competition. The NCAA is a voluntary organization and the schools sign on to be bound by the NCAA rules and regulations."

The chair added that the only connection to athletics was that the department was lenient to Sandusky and that some of his crimes were committed at the Penn State football facility.

"But this has nothing to do with NCAA business," the former chair said. "This is new. If they're going to deal with situations of this kind that have nothing to do with the games of who plays and so on and rather deal with members of the athletic department who act immorally or criminally then it opens up the door to other cases."

The NCAA, the chair said, didn't get involved in punishing the school for criminal behavior.

"The criminal courts are perfectly capable of handling these situations," the former chair said. "This is a new phase and a new thing. They are getting into bad behavior that are somehow connected to those who work in the athletic department.

"This is an important precedent. And it should be taken with extreme care."

Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship, a self-described group of "alumni, students, benefactors, and friends" of Penn State, emailed Emmert through an attorney to voice its concerns over the NCAA's planned sanctions.

The email, obtained by ESPN, claims the Freeh report "is fraught with factual and legal errors, filled with opinions and unsupported conclusions, and, in a word, faulty."

The group also casts doubt on the Freeh team's ability to conduct the report by citing the successful appeal of former FIFA presidential candidate Mohammed bin Hammam. The Court of Arbitration for Sport recently overturned bin Hammam's lifetime ban from soccer, which was based in part on another Freeh investigation.

Michael Buckner, an attorney who represents schools and coaches in NCAA cases, said the NCAA's course of action might even be unconstitutional for violating federal and state notions of due process.

"Federal and state courts have consistently held that membership organizations, including athletics associations like the NCAA, are required to provide procedures that protect their members against arbitrary and irrational action," Buckner wrote in an email.

"The (criminal) conduct of Penn State and its employees, no matter how egregious, is not a violation of an existing NCAA rule," Buckner wrote.

The NCAA is not following its existing enforcement processes, according to Buckner, and the lack of an outlined appeals process is also cause for concern.

Under NCAA rules, if Penn State is hit with a postseason ban, players are allowed to transfer without sitting out a season as long as their remaining eligibility is shorter than or equal to the length of the ban. Only seniors could transfer and play immediately under a one-year ban, but a two-year ban would mean seniors and juniors could both transfer without penalty.

Josephine Potuto, a University of Nebraska constitutional law professor and former chairwoman of the NCAA infractions committee, said she hopes Emmert will announce that all current players will have the ability to transfer without penalty.

"I would be surprised if that isn't one of the things that is done," she said. "That might be one of the reasons they are calling it 'unprecedented.' There have been scholarships and bowl bans in the past that have been pretty substantial. If you allow students to transfer that would be very significant. ...

"If in the range of penalties there is not the opportunity for any player that wants to transfer, then I think it is a travesty. That is the one thing you have to do to try to at least ameliorate the situation for the athletes that are there. That needs to be done."

On Twitter, Akeel Lynch, a running back recruit who played high school football in western New York, wrote, "I still bleed blue and white," while quarterback Matt McGloin wrote, "The hotter the fire, the stronger the steel."

Tight end Garry Gilliam tweeted, "No matter what happens, I'm staying at Penn State."

Information from ESPN.com senior writers Andy Katz and Don Van Natta Jr. and The Associated Press was used in this report.


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