Saturday, September 13

Emmert and the NCAA's Hypocrisy About Education and Protecting Children

For two years in a row, the NCAA's hypocrisy on its value of education and protecting children reared its head when it commented on the reductions to Penn State's sanctions.

Ray Blehar

If you give Mark Emmert a chance to speak, the chances are he will say something that exposes himself as a hypocrite.  That's probably why he didn't comment on the recent NCAA sanction reductions at Penn State.  However, let's turn back the clock and examine what Emmert had to say after the sanctions were reduced last fall.

"From the beginning, the goal of the Penn State sanctions and the Athletics Integrity Agreement has been to ensure that the university reinforces clear expectations and a daily mindset within athletics that the highest priority has to be placed on educating, nurturing and protecting young people, and to recognize the impact of the abuse on the lives of the victims in this case."

NCAA: Should be renamed
Not Credible Athletic Association
Rather than a statement from Emmert this year, the NCAA had its Executive Committee speak on its behalf and -- to no one's surprise -- they delivered the same hypocrisy as last year. 

“Penn State has made remarkable progress over the past year,” said Harris Pastides, Board member and University of South Carolina president. “The board members and I believe the Executive Committee’s decision is the right one. It allows both the university and the association to continue to move toward a common goal of ensuring that educating, nurturing and protecting young people is a top priority.”

While there is little doubt that Penn State athletics is on board with educating young people,  as it has been for over 50 years, I don't believe you can say the same for the NCAA or Mark Emmert.


Mark Emmert's criticism of Penn State for not putting a priority on education was the height of hypocrisy.  One only need to look at the academic records of the football team when he was chancellor at Louisiana State University and his own commentary to understand that Emmert had a low bar when it came to academic success.

Recruiting Class Year              LSU                                     Penn State
1999                                        37%                                         76%
2000                                        38%                                         72%
2001                                        37%                                         75%
2002                                        42%                                         80%
2003                                        42%                                         77%
2004                                        48%                                         80%

Emmert's assessment of LSU's performance:

"The facts speak for themselves.  We went from an athletic program that was underperforming dramatically in the classroom to one that was performing well."

Having less than 50% of student-athletes graduate for six consecutive years isn't performing well and the so-called improvement, if graded academically, would mean that LSU didn't move up a grade and stayed solidly at an F-

The NCAA also had less than a shining moment with regard to 2011-2012 academic scandal at the University of North Carolina  -- and it appears that a "do over" is underway.  

Martin's Investigation concluded
academic fraud, lack of oversight
After the original inquiry, an NCAA enforcement staff member stated there were"no violations of current NCAA rules or student-athlete eligibility issues related to courses in African and Afro-American Studies."   However, UNC Chancellor Carol Folt admitted that "they failed the kids" and former basketball player Rashad McCants also gave a first person account of the academic fraud.  

Former faculty member Julius Nyang'oro was charged with felony criminal fraud for his role in the scandal.  He has since cut a deal and had the charges dropped in exchange for his cooperation with the Wainstein investigation.

Finally, Governor Jim Martin's 2012 investigation said that it was clearly "an academic scandal" and not an athletic scandal.  This was based on extensive analysis of courses that showed that both student-athletes and regular students were enrolled in the anomalous courses, had similar numbers of unauthorized grade changes, and similar grade point averages. Martin's  investigation resulted in 120 changes to ensure the problems didn't recur. 

 The bottom line, however, is that both the student-athletes and the non-student-athletes were not being educated, rather they were receiving course credits.

That point strikes at the heart of the Core Values of the  NCAA, which includes:

The collegiate model of athletics in which students participate as an avocation, balancing their academic, social and athletics experiences.

The pursuit of excellence in both academics and athletics.

What was the "academic experience" gained in those anomalous courses?  Where was the excellence in academics? 

Obviously, there was none and the NCAA was fine with student-athletes that violated the organization's core values so long as they didn't violate eligibility rules.

Child Protection
On July 23, 2012, the NCAA entered into the Consent Decree with Penn State.  The Consent Decree described Penn State, Joe Paterno, its employees, and the University community in the harshest of terms.  It held that Penn State's alleged failures in the Sandusky scandal violated core principles of human decency, morality, and honesty. 

Among the punitive features of the agreement was to be $60 million in fines to be paid to the NCAA to be placed in an endowment for programs for preventing child sexual abuse or to assist victims of child sexual abuse.  

Senator Jake Corman (later joined by Rob McCord) filed a lawsuit against the NCAA to prevent the $60 million in fines from being spent outside Pennsylvania's borders.  The NCAA had set up a task force to decide how to spend the money, which determined that 25% would be spent in Pennsylvania.  Corman's lawsuit stated the NCAA's plan violated the Pennsylvania Constitution.

As the case made its way through the legal system, with the NCAA losing at every turn, the organization finally dropped its opposition to the Corman lawsuit on the same day it reduced the sanctions that emanated from the Consent Decree.   The motion to dismiss must be ruled on by Judge Anne Covey.

It was little coincidence that the Mitchell report was released on September 8, 2014 because that so happened to be the day that Judge Covey ruled that all discovery was to be completed.  If you had any doubts that the NCAA, Penn State, and Mitchell were pulling a scam before last Monday, this should erase them.

NCAA and Mark Emmert
Hypocrisy is par for the course.
Rather than a Friday news dump, as they did in the UNC case in 2012, the NCAA chose to use a different tactic to avoid bad publicity.  Withdrawing from the lawsuit on the same day as the sanction reductions were announced severely reduced attention on the NCAA's latest legal set back.  As you might expect, few in the national media covered the news about the lawsuit.  

For an organization that decried Penn State for valuing football over the welfare of children, look who used "football news" to avoid even more damage to its already tarnished reputation.  

The hypocrisy is overwhelming -- yet, expected from Mark Emmert and the NCAA.

For more hypocrisy, here is the NCAA's statement on it's withdrawal from the lawsuit (courtesy of

 "Continuing this litigation would have further delayed the distribution of the funds to sexual abuse survivors for years, undermining the very intent of the fine. Our legal case is strong, but we believe even more strongly in preventing child sexual abuse and aiding survivors."

How much does the NCAA really believe in preventing child sexual abuse?  

When the Freeh Report conclusions about Sandusky's sexual abuse of children were blown up by former FBI profiler, James Clemente, the NCAA had no comment.   

Clemente stated that Freeh relied on the "common, yet erroneous stereotype of child sex offenders" and that his report "interpreted the facts using the wrong filter."   The tragic result of the Freeh Report is that it did not alert the public to the more insidious "acquaintance offender" who goes undetected for many years and abuses many children.  

The NCAA chose to stand behind the erroneous Freeh Report and stay silent, rather than to inform the public about threats that every child may face.   This action or lack thereof, exposes the NCAA's hypocrisy in its statement about preventing child sexual abuse.


Despite the levying of a $60 million dollar fine, the NCAA's actions in the Penn State case have been little more than a publicity stunt in an attempt to reverse its reputation as a weak enforcement organization.  Subsequent actions have shown the Penn State case to be both a mistake and an anomaly.  The NCAA has gone back to being a weak enforcer (see Miami (FL) case) and Emmert remains little more than empty suit.

While the public still awaits the trials of PSU officials for their alleged concealment of Sandusky's crimes and other charges, the verdict appears to be in on the NCAA....

Given the choice, the NCAA chosen to conceal information about its dealings with Penn State, Freeh, Mitchell, and the PA OAG, rather than fight to maintain its plans for aiding in the protection of the nation's children.


  1. The best part--take a look at the "new" NCAA policy about handling situations like the one with McQueary.

    1. Karen,
      The sexual assault policy certainly could make for another blog post. covered the NCAA's history on that quite well in its interview with Ed Ray.,1127859/

  2. "And the walls came tumblin' down and the walls came rumblin' tumblin' "
    John Mellencamp: Tumblin' Down

  3. "Clemente stated that Freeh relied on the "common, yet erroneous stereotype of child sex offenders" and that his report "interpreted the facts using the wrong filter." The tragic result of the Freeh Report is that it did not alert the public to the more insidious "acquaintance offender" who goes undetected for many years and abuses many children." Nail meet head. Talk about Penn State not turning a negative into a positive and educating people. Criminal.

    1. Agree, Janet, But since 11/9/11, the Administration and the Board have been nothing but negative about the scandal -- EXCEPT when they can use it to their benefit (i.e., look at how much WE'VE done to improve PSU).

      You are also correct that what they did was criminal. That's why PSU is linked at the hip with the NCAA in fighting discovery.

  4. Another great article.

    The NCAA and Penn State do not appear serious about wanting to detect more Sanduskys because they grossly misrepresent it as a nefarious plot by PSU officials to hide Sandusky's crimes.

    Detecting "pillar of the community" child abusers is very difficult and often uncomfortable. You have to be suspicious of all people who spend a lot of time with other people's children to find the bad apples.

    The NCAA should have made Jim Clemente's report, especially Appendix 3, mandatory reading for all NCAA players and coaches.