July 17, 2012 video from StateCollege.com indicates that Erickson negotiated the sanctions with the NCAA.
A rarely seen video, with only 156 views as of 24 January 2014, indicated that PSU President Rodney Erickson was in dialog with the NCAA on the sanctions that would be handed down at PSU.
At around 2:35 on the video Erickson states, "once the NCAA has that, we'll continue in dialog with them about what are appropriate sanctions."
The "that" Erickson made reference to was PSU's response to the NCAA letter of November 17, 2011.
According to a December 12, 2011 letter from PSU, signed by Cynthia Baldwin, she had discussed the NCAA's letter with NCAA President Mark Emmert and NCAA general counsel Donald Remy on November 23rd. The letter proposed that PSU wait until the completion of the investigation by the Special Investigation Task force and gave the NCAA permission to monitor the investigation.
The December 12 letter also gave the NCAA the option of accepting the report of the investigation (i.e, which would become the Freeh Report) as the University's response.
In the NCAA response to PSU on December 20th, NCAA counsel Remy wrote:
"Once the work of the Special Investigations Task Force is complete, we will be better able to determine the substance and timeline for your responding to the questions we have posed to Penn State."
As the Freeh Report was issued on July 12 and the video recorded on July 17, it appears that Erickson and PSU were preparing a response (or perhaps a proposal) to the NCAA.
If that was the case, there was no "cram down," but rather an agreement on harsh sanctions that Erickson and the NCAA believed would effectively cause the Penn State football program to collapse.
That scenario would seem to indicate this was not a "cram down" -- but instead, collusion.