Tuesday, September 24

NCAA Half Measure on Sanctions Falls Short

The NCAA's decision to roll back some of the sanctions as a result of "progress" with the Freeh Report's recommendations on Athletics is yet another smokescreen by Emmert and the BOT.

By
Ray Blehar

While I welcome the decision by the NCAA to restore some of the scholarship to the football program, it's reasoning for doing so is nothing less than farcical.

As most Penn Staters - and college football fans in general - know, Penn State had a sterling reputation for its ability to perform at high levels on the field and in the classroom.  All this done with not a single NCAA violation.   

In  the years prior to the Sandusky Scandal, Penn State's 89 percent graduation rate and 85 percent Graduation Success Rate were tops among all teams in the Associated Press' final 2009 Top 25 poll, according to NCAA data. The Nittany Lions' GSR and four-year federal graduation rate were second only to Northwestern among Big Ten Conference teams, according to the NCAA's 2010 graduation report.

For the late Coach Paterno's career, the Nittany Lions have counted 16 National Football Foundation Scholar-Athletes, 37 first-team Capital One/CoSIDA All-Americans® (47 overall) and 18 NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship winners. 

And in 2010, NCAA President Mark Emmert, called Joe Paterno “the definitive role model of what it means to be a college coach.” 

PSU needed the Athletic Integrity Agreement like a fish needed a bicycle.

However, less than one year later, Mark Emmert would levy unprecedented sanctions on PSU, based on some obscure rules buried in the NCAA By-Laws which were buttressed by slim evidence provided  in the now discredited Freeh Report.

Today's decision to reduce the NCAA Sanctions is little more than a Hail Mary pass by Emmert and the BOT with the hopes of appeasing their opponents who they incorrectly accused of being part of a non-existent "football culture" at PSU.   

The opposition is not going away.  Not until all the wrongs are righted -- more on that later.

But what of this fallacious reasoning for the reduction of the NCAA Sanctions?


NCAA and Penn State's Revised Consent Decree


The revised Consent Decree, below, states that the NCAA has reduced the sanctions because of the compliance and efforts toward implementation of the....Athletics Integrity Agreement.




























What is truly amazing about the "progress" that PSU made since last August is that it's ability to meet the Freeh Report recommendations for Athletics, on which the AIA is based, required them to do very little.

While the AIA is about a dozen pages long and filled with a lot of language, the bottom line is that addresses a dozen (12) recommendations in the Freeh Report that were mostly unnecessary and unsupported by evidence.  And when you read how PSU addressed the recommendations on the PSU Progress Web-site, released in July 2013,  you will see what an "outlaw" program PSU must have been to take such drastic changes (sarcasm).

A brief summary of the  recommendations and commentary follows.

5. Athletics
5.1  Recommendation:  Intercollegiate Athletics Organization Structure:  Revise structure to define lines of authority and responsibility.   Action:  Changes made to number of senior members responsible for football operations, compliance and human resources.  

Comment:  As usual, in the aftermath of a crisis or scandal, recommend redrawing the organization chart.  Consulting 101.

5.2  Recommendation:  Athletic Facilities Access:  Evaluate security protocols for athletic, recreational, and camp facilities.  Action:  PSU originated Policy AD 72 regarding facilities access and improved video surveillance/card access procedures.

Comment:  Sandusky committed no crimes on PSU's campus after 2001 and the majority of his crimes occurred off campus.  No crimes were ever reported as occurring at a PSU sports camp.  There was little need for this recommendation.

5.3  Recommendation:  Intercollegiate Athletics National Searches:  Conduct national searches for key positions including head coaches and Associate Athletic Directors and above.  Action:  PSU crafted policy HR-101 to require national searches and national searches are underway for the baseball, softball, and swimming/diving programs.

Comment:  Recommendation should be implemented retro-actively back to 11-9-11 and a national search for a qualified Athletic Director should commence immediately.  Oh, and we need to find a new fencing coach.

5.4 Recommendation:  Academic Support for Athletes.  Action: Already fully implemented in June 2012 (in other words, no action taken because none was needed).

Comment:  Recommendation was unnecessary as evidenced by PSU's already outstanding academic record for its athletes.



5.5 Recommendation:  Athletic Compliance:  Hire additional compliance staff.  Action:  Two positions added and an upgrade of an existing positon.

Comment:  Not needed.

5.5.1 Recommendation: Benchmark Athletics Compliance:  Benchmark peer institutions.  Action: PSU completed benchmarking with Big Ten schools and is considering hiring an additional compliance staff member.

Comment:  PSU's only peer in the Big Ten is Northwestern.  Most other conference schools have had NCAA violations, including Michigan (NCAA Final Four banners removed from Crisler Arena) and  Ohio State (on probation, 2010 wins vacated). Prior to 2011, eight Big Ten schools had been hit with major violations since 2000.  This recommendation was/is ludicrous.

5.5.2 Recommendation:  Compliance Reporting Relationship.  Establish and effective reporting relationship with the University Compliance Officer.   Action:  Associate AD for Compliance and Athletic Integrity Officer will report to the Director of University Ethics and Compliance.

Comment:  Sounds good in theory, however, a legitimate conflict of interest policy is the key to an effective Ethics program.  PSU doesn't have the former, thus it cannot accomplish the latter.

5.5.3 Recommendation:  Intercollegiate Athletics Compliance Registration.  Realign to ensure the AD staff members is overseen by the Athletics Compliance Officer.  Action:  Some new duties assigned to compliance staff.

Comment:  Nothing to see here.

5.5.4 Recommendation:  Compliance Education.  Ensure personnel have knowledge of NCAA, Big Ten, and University rules.  Action:  Compliance staff conducted training and will emphasize following rules in employee performance evaluations.

Comment:  Quite a novel recommendation.  Employees should follow rules.  Remember, PSU paid $8M dollars for this nonsense.


5.6: Recommendation: Compliance Training. 
E
nsure that Athletic Department employees
comply with University-wide training mandates.

Comment:  The Freeh Report did not cite any specific instances in which athletic department employees alone were not complying with training mandates.  Freeh's report cited University wide lack of compliance.


5.6.1: Recommendation: Track Compliance: Training 
Provide and track initial and on-going training for 
athletic staff in matters of leadership, ethics, the 
Penn State Principles and standards of conduct, 
abuse awareness, and reporting misconduct 
pursuant to the Clery Act and University policy.



Comment:  Same as above. This recommendation/correction applies to PSU as a whole, based on the evidence presented in the Freeh Report.


5.6.2: Recommendation: Management Training 
Opportunities 
Include Athletic Department employees in 
management training programs provided to other 
University managers.



Comment:  There was no evidence in the Freeh Report that indicated Athletic Department employees weren't already participating in management training offered by the University.

Conclusion

It's evident that most of the recommendations regarding improvements to PSU's Academic Integrity were not needed and the only one that most people agree was needed is a national search for a new Athletic Director, which of course, PSU is not considering.  Also, rumor has it that PSU is looking to extend Director of Athletic "Affairs," Dave Joyner's tenure by seven years.  The bottom line is that PSU did next to nothing to "fix" the non-existent integrity issues in the athletic department and the BOT and Emmert are patting themselves on the back for this nonsense.


Recommendations

This half measure by the NCAA (and the BOT) is, as BOT member Anthony Lubrano put it, a "baby step" in righting the wrongs that were an outgrowth of the BOT's mishandling of the Sandusky Scandal.

PSU alumni, students, fans, and supporters should not be satisfied until the NCAA:
1)  Rescinds all of the sanctions (scholarships and wins fully restored).
2)  Refunds the money PSU paid in fines.
3)  Refunds the money wasted by PSU to hire and pay George Mitchell/DLA Piper.

In addition the remaining 11/9/11 PSU BOT members, including Erickson, must:
1)  Issue apologies to the Paterno family, Graham Spanier, Tim Curley, and Gary Schultz.
2)  Resign

The Pennsylvania Legislature must:
1)  Reorganize the BOT and install interim trustees and a new President.
2)  Continue to press reforms in Pennsylvania's Child Protection system.

We are not moving forward until the full truth is known, the NCAA sanctions are removed, PSU is properly governed, and Pennsylvania's children get the protection they deserve.







8 comments:

  1. What a farce! Mitchell is getting paid millions for monitoring the implementation of recommendations for rules that are already in place at Penn State, in other words, for doing nothing. This entire fiasco has been a tragedy of errors from the theatre of the absurd written and produced by Rodney Erickson and the BoT. Thanks, Ray, for your rejection of these half measures by the NCAA and your tireless efforts to find the truth.

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  2. I've seen this before. You just knew that the recommendations were window dressing. Thanks for analyzing.

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  3. Do you think the NCAA did this to overshadow the concussion protest that happened the past weekend?

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  4. More excellence as usual from Ray Blehar. - He should be monitoring the monitors and other enemies of Penn State for the kind of pay given to incompetents like Freeh & figureheads like Mitchell

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  5. You all appear dead serious about this. Are you stating Paterno lied when he testified McQuery told him of a sexual complaint involving Sandusky and a boy in the shower?

    That Schultz was lying when he stated that the complaint "may" have involved Sandusky grabbing an unidentified boy in PSU's showers? That he wrote "Pandora's box" and "others" (meaning children and Sandusky)?

    That Curley did not send an email indicating he was "uncomfortable" with speaking to anyone other than Sandusky? That he (and all the rest of PSU) made no attempt to identify, much less question, the boy in the shower?

    Do you have any idea what you are claiming? Please reread the article and subsequent comments from the viewpoint of anyone other than someone who has lost any sense of objectivity about this case, i.e. virtually everyone else in the country.

    Trying to discuss the facts and issues with you is like trying to argue against Rush Limbaugh on his show when there is 15 seconds left to the commercial break. And much more frustrating because we are discussing individuals, such as Paterno, who admitted they received sexual complaints concerning Sandusky and a boy in the PSU shower and did absolutely nothing.

    Nothing.

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    1. I've followed all of this closely since Nov 2011. I have no ties to PA and did not even know the name "Joe Paterno" prior to this. Rather I was in desperate need of mental distractions, and the Sandusky story certainly provided them. I've been able to read all reports, transcripts, and analyses to date.

      My take is this: We do not know what McQueary told his father, Dranov, and Paterno in the first 24 hrs after the 2001 incident. I would love to hear Dr. Dranov explain under oath why he felt reporting to Paterno was sufficient. And also, whether he personally ever followed up in any way.

      What makes sense, and fits Ocham's Razor for simplicity, is that McQueary was NOT certain he had witnessed a crime. Going to the police with an accusation of sexual assault when you have doubts about what you encountered would be tough for lots of people.

      Years later, an aggressive prosecutor could convince you that indeed it likely WAS a sexual assault you encountered. And now, you may feel bad that you weren't bolder in 2001. If you had speculated/ extrapolated as to what was really going on that night, you may have stopped Sandusky from further abuses. So if exaggeration now could help stop an abuser, you certainly may do it.

      In 2001, Paterno followed PSU reporting policies and notified his chain of command. In addition, he arranged for McQueary to report directly to these higher-ups. Then he followed up with McQueary more than once as to whether he was OK.

      Paterno's higher-ups are still awaiting trial on charges that THEY didn't act appropriately or honestly. I'd really love to hear them answer to these charges under oath. Blehar has said that if the truth leads to these guys' guilt and Penn State's culpability, he'll burn down PSU. My take is that others in his camp would agree. A HUGE problem for those of us interested in truth and due process is the presumption of Penn State's culpability. Those who may have acted inappropriately have NOT been tried yet. And even the prosecutor stated, publicly, that there was NO evidence of Paterno failing to report (i.e., covering something up). The prosecutor does believe,: though, that there is such evidence against Paterno's higher-ups. Sandusky was tried and convicted for his part of all this. The only others indicted to date have NOT had their days in court.

      My take on all this is that Blehar et al. want due process to determine guilt and punishments. I agree with them.

      Thanks for your time!

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    2. JJ,
      Thanks for your post. I'll address it point by point.

      You all appear dead serious about this. Are you stating Paterno lied when he testified McQuery told him of a sexual complaint involving Sandusky and a boy in the shower?

      ----Grand jury testimony is inadmissable because there is no opportunity to cross-examine the witness and ask to clarify statements. In this case, Paterno equivocated numerous time, which you don't mention. It is clear Paterno was searching for words. This is testimony about a 10 minute meeting that took place 12 years ago. No one remembers what was said exactly.

      That Schultz was lying when he stated that the complaint "may" have involved Sandusky grabbing an unidentified boy in PSU's showers?

      --- Schultz said he "got the impression" they were wrestling around and Sandusky might have grabbed the genitals, however Schultz was very clear the McQueary did not say that to him.

      That he wrote "Pandora's box" and "others" (meaning children and Sandusky)?

      -- At the July 2013 Preliminary Hearing, Tom Harmon testified that he may have said those words to Schultz and Schultz was simply recording what he said. In fact, those words could be attributed to 4 people: Schreffler, Miller, Harmon, and Schultz who either took part in the interview of relayed information from it.

      That Curley did not send an email indicating he was "uncomfortable" with speaking to anyone other than Sandusky?

      -- And this proves what? Nothing, really. Only that Curley wanted to get Sandusky's story before taking the next step.

      That he (and all the rest of PSU) made no attempt to identify, much less question, the boy in the shower?

      Under Federal and State laws, the identities of child abuse victims and their families are confidential. PSU acted in accordance with the law to not seek out this information.

      Do you have any idea what you are claiming? Please reread the article and subsequent comments from the viewpoint of anyone other than someone who has lost any sense of objectivity about this case, i.e. virtually everyone else in the country.

      -- The rest of the country is not objective. Most of the country still believes that children were raped by Sandusky on PSU's campus and that PSU did nothing. That is patently false, yet that is what the majority believe.

      Trying to discuss the facts and issues with you is like trying to argue against Rush Limbaugh on his show when there is 15 seconds left to the commercial break. And much more frustrating because we are discussing individuals, such as Paterno, who admitted they received sexual complaints concerning Sandusky and a boy in the PSU shower and did absolutely nothing.

      -- And you just proved my point above. Mike McQueary cannot say definitively what he told Paterno and Mike is 40 years younger than Joe. You expected an 84 year old man to actually remember a 5 or 10 minute conversation from 10 years ago - and to do so using inadmissable grand jury testimony. Do you realize how ludicrous that is? Also, you say PSU officials did nothing. Even the grand jury presentment shows that Paterno did as required by law and the PSU officials at a minimum told Second Mile, while there is other evidence testimony and a document that shows PSU officials believed the authorities were contacted about the incident.

      Nothing.

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