It is ironic that three vague e-mails, two of which did not even contain the name of Jerry Sandusky, were deemed as "smoking gun" evidence of a lack of integrity of four PSU leaders.
Yesterday, three rather detailed email exhibits involving the NCAA emerged that show a "small inner circle" within governing body of collegiate athletics knew it was violating its own rules when it sanctioned Penn State.
The emails reveal:
1. On July 20, 2012 a draft of the NCAA's press release on the sanctions was circulated for review -- three days ahead of the alleged cram down of the NCAA Consent Decree. In other words, the Consent Decree was not signed under threat of the Death Penalty.
3. The ability to sanction PSU was a "bluff" that Julie Roe and Emmert knew would only score a temporary victory for Emmert. That "victory" was the expected positive public relations of the NCAA being tough on violators.
4. The NCAA's approach was to get PSU to agree to sanctions based on ethical violations -- not rules violations that provided the football program with a competitive advantage. Julie Roe expressed reservations that this could survive a review by the Committee on Infractions (COI).
5. Ed Ray believed that PSU's response to the 17 November 2011 NCAA letter would be integral to the process and turned over to the COI.
6. Julie Roe and Kevin Lennon also were waiting for PSU's response to the NCAA letter and expected it to be turned over to the COI.
No Death Penalty ThreatEmails from July 20 and 21, 2012, show that the NCAA had a near final draft of its press release circulating for review prior to the actual signing of the NCAA Consent Decree.
ESPN's Don Van Natta reported that - according to Erickson and Emmert -- the Death Penalty was in play until sometime on Friday. The ESPN piece also reported that Gene Marsh, who was hired on July 17 by PSU to negotiate with the NCAA, was stunned to learn a "draft without the death penalty would be coming by email" on that Friday afternoon. It didn't arrive until after midnight (i.e, Saturday morning) -- according to Marsh.
Through the evening on Friday, Marsh sat in front of his laptop computer, continually checking his inbox for a draft of the agreement, known as a consent decree. "I was just staring at the computer, waiting," Marsh says. Until it arrives, it's not offered, he thought. "It was silly, but I just kept staring." Not long after midnight, the nine-page document arrived.
The timeline shows the near final draft of the press release outlining the sanctions was provided to NCAA officials at 8:31PM on 20 July -- in advance of the sanctions being provided to Marsh.
Again, this is three days before PSU allegedly was forced to sign the Consent Decree under threat of Death Penalty.
NCAA Penalized PSU Football Without EvidenceAs the next clip from the email shows, the NCAA could not have seriously evaluated the evidence in the Freeh Report that concluded a cultural problem at PSU enabled Sandusky's serial child sexual abuse. Freeh's conclusion was based on the alleged failure of the janitors and PSU leaders to report abuse incidents in 2000 and 2001, respectively.
In order to penalize PSU's football program, the NCAA and Freeh both ignored the evidence that showed the football program appeared to be an area of the University that didn't fear reporting Sandusky. Both Mike McQueary and Paterno reported the incident to their superiors. That is an irrefutable fact.
Ironically, the first "lie" in Julie Roe's email was that the football program was protecting its image by not reporting Sandusky.
The second, and bigger lie, exposed in this email is that the sanctions were already established and negotiated well before the alleged "death penalty" threat.
Ability to Sanction PSU was the "Bluff"
While some might believe the NCAA was bluffing PSU when it threatened them with the death penalty, a more careful reading of the emails shows that the Emmert and Roe knew the ability to sanction PSU without it committing a violation was a "bluff." However, the emails indicate that Emmert was willing to win a temporary victory (and garner the PR as a tough enforcer), all the while knowing it was a risk that the COI would back the sanctions.
Actually, it was no risk at all to Emmert. He could still claim he wanted to get tough with PSU, but couldn't do it without violating the organization's rules.
In the end, Emmert and PSU figured out a way to clear the COI "hurdle." The NCAA got an "illegal" agreement from Erickson and a small group of trustees to by-pass the traditional enforcement procedures. This action violated PSU BOT Standing Order V. (1) (d) (vi), which requires the "to make decisions collectively as the governing body of the University."
The irony is overwhelming here. The NCAA was penalizing PSU for a lack of integrity, but to do so, mandated that PSU ignore its own rules in agreeing to the sanctions!
Runaway TrainNCAA lawyer, Kevin Lennon, referred to the PSU case as a "runaway train." He and Roe expected the case to eventually be turned over to the Enforcement staff and for the NCAA to stick to its traditional enforcement process after that.
Conversely, Julie Roe knew "the plan" was to negotiate with PSU on strong sanctions - even though the basis for penalties was "a stretch." However she still believed the COI would be involved eventually.
Obviously, Erickson, Karen Peetz, and the rest of the PSU BOT "inner circle" offered little in the way of resistance to the eventual sanctions.
Small Groups Behind Unprecedented Use of NCAA Consent DecreeIt is important to note that a similar "small group" within PSU Board of Trustees (BOT) were privy to the details of the long-term collaboration (not cram down) that lead to the unprecedented NCAA Consent Decree.
The NCAA leadership appears very similar to the Penn State Board of Trustees in that a small group appears to be in control and make the big decisions. As this July 13, 2012, email between NCAA Chief Operating Officer, Jim Isch and Mark Emmert revealed, the NCAA EC was not yet in the loop on the PSU discussions.
Given that Ed Ray was not part of the discussions between PSU and the NCAA that led to the NCAA Consent Decree and phony Death Penalty threat, it comes as no surprise that he and Emmert didn't have their stories straight on the latter.
|Erickson: Ashamed of deal cut with NCAA?|
While I don't claim to be a body language expert, note that at 2:38 Erickson immediately looks down and away (an indication shame or guilt) and begins to play with the papers on his desk when he says:
"We'll continue in dialog with them about what are..what are appropriate sanctions."
As I wrote here -- and as was originally briefed by former Penn State great and NFL Hall of Famer, Franco Harris in January 2013 -- the NCAA Consent Decree appeared to be based on Rodney Erickson's November 11, 2011, five-point promise.
Former NCAA Enforcement Director, Ameen Najjar, said that Erickson "had sold PSU down the river."
Both the NCAA and Rod Erickson appear to be guilty of lying about the Death Penalty threat.
Why?While the emails indicate that the NCAA's decision on the PSU case was about strengthening its public image as an enforcer. An enforcer certainly has no qualms about being "accused" of threatening someone with harsh penalties.
In Erickson's and the "inner circle's" case, the threat of the Death Penalty gave them a means to hopefully escape the backlash of the PSU community, who they believed could be convinced that they cut the best deal possible.
We didn't buy it.