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NCAA Usurps New Power in Landmark Move

"We over-reached by this much...."
"We over-reached by this much...."

The NCAA is not a law enforcement agency. The NCAA is not a moral legislature or advocate body. They enforce rules on academics and athletics. I have to keep repeating those statements because nobody seems to be listening. What the NCAA probably is today, one day after handing down the harshest penalties to an athletic program in their history ever, is self-congratulating, exuberant, and maybe a little scared shitless about the eventual fallout from their member clients once they have had the time to reflect on the smoldering hole that once was Happy Valley.

You should separate your outrage at the underlying acts perpetrated by Sandusky and the conspiracy of silence cover up from Paterno and company. It is tempting to find moral equivalency between those horrendous acts and the punishment leveled down by the NCAA. Look at the big picture. The struggle for the soul of college football is at stake. Those acts were all wrong, and justice has been and will be sought in the criminal and civil courts for quite a while to come. Since when did the NCAA decide they can top those two venues in metering out punishment? Why are they even trying? How can you one-up the criminal justice system, other than through a scandalous attempt through the court of public opinion?

The NCAA from the onset jumped out of their normal protocol with this scandal. Instead of operating silently and professionally like they usually do when initiating an investigation, they went public immediately, going for the big splash. How else would anyone expect them to dive into this pool? They then dunk a defenseless Penn State under water after they've already been thrown in and dare anyone to jump in after them. They used PSU's own in-house investigation--the Freeh report--and hang them with it in one fail swoop with no chance for negotiation and self punishment imposition.

The government gets it's consent from the governed, and the NCAA and it's client members are no exceptions. They're supposed to look after the integrity of academics and athletics. They're supposed to investigate cheating and preserve sportsmanship. How do they make the leap into law enforcement? They enforce rules and guidelines, not laws. Look at the power they've just grabbed. Isn't anyone else uncomfortable with that? And I was upset my home-owners association was elbowing me around..

Look through the huge NCAA rulebook and tell me what rules Penn State violated. Give me specifics, like it was a traffic ticket. Being a slime ball isn't against the rules. Try again. I wish we had interns here at TET so I could have them do it for me. The NCAA has never punished criminal behavior. I don't want to see it start. What is it about the scope of this case that they now want to do that? Are they afraid there wasn't outrage enough? If so, they could have waited for all the cases to wind their way through the courts. Are they worried that something like this could be an epidemic? First time we've had something like this happen in almost 150 years of college athletics.

If the NCAA now wants to get in the business of punishing lawbreakers, we're going to need a new agency to still conduct overseeing the integrity of academics and athletics in this country because the old one is going to need all their resources in their new field of endeavour. Forget about recruiting violations, paying players, and academic scandals. Those will take a back seat in the brave, new world of criminal conduct enforcement the NCAA will perform. Minor violations will be no more as the new Draconian NCAA lops off everybody's head. Guilty! Guilty!

Not convincing you? Let me try another angle. Let's ask another question that is so glaring. Why is this matter a football violation? Wasn't it the athletic department and university officials that did the cover up? They were all over Joe Paterno on the totem pole. The underlying crime was perpetrated by a football coach, but that's not covered in the NCAA rulebook. Don't we always say that it's the cover up and not the crime that makes it so bad? Then the powers that be conspired to protect the university and the athletic department--of which football fell under. I'm just not convinced this is uniquely a football violation. If you wanted to really punish the school, couldn't you equally seek to ban all the athletics? If not, then it reeks of selective enforcement.

We all know the reason they're punishing the football program is the same as why John Dillenger robbed banks--it's where the money is. And the NCAA wanted their test case into law enforcement to sting and last longer than a tattoo. They've amputated the money maker from the body of the school, which may yet drag down all of the athletic programs. If that's what the NCAA intended to do then they are some cold-blooded SOBs. They should have had the decency to just shut down the program for a year or two and allow them to rebuild again from a clean slate instead of micro-managing all these individual punishments whose effects can linger for decades.

The insult to injury is the vacation of all the victories from 1998-2011, a total of 111. They take Joe Paterno's coaching record with it--all with the stroke of a pen. Are we supposed to just believe that 14 seasons of college football didn't exist? For cheaters, I can see that, but you would never have an interval that long. But Penn State didn't cheat. Yes, they were arrogant, deceitful, and criminal, but there are venues for that punishment--none under the purview of the NCAA, in my opinion. As far as the $60M fine, I find it incomprehensible that they can seek that amount from one school. If I was Penn State, I would consider withdrawing from the NCAA before paying that sort of shake-down.

There are so many long term implications for college athletics in general and football in particular from the NCAA's decision yesterday that it could take years of analysis before all the lessons are learned. Football fans will talk about this day decades from now when all of us are dead and gone. I don't think it's far fetched to believe that many of the client schools under the thumb of the NCAA may now have secret discussions about a contingency plan to withdraw from the NCAA at some point in time--not because of solidarity with Penn State, but because of the massive power grab perpetrated by their overseers.

Defection from the NCAA has been mentioned from time to time for a variety of reasons, most of them because sometimes they seem to be ruining some really good fun we could be having with playoffs, revenue sharing, and eligibility. Now this talk will be for real, as perhaps conferences may broach the subject with each other. Five conferences control college football and could easily break off from the NCAA and establish new rules--and the whole country would follow--following the money. Those were the good ole days when that's all the sport was about. I fear for it now.