- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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It's a historic day in college sports, and undoubtedly a tough one for Penn State University.
We'll know the NCAA's penalties for Penn State football a little later -- the Big Ten also could weigh in very soon on its member institution -- and it appears as though the NCAA and Penn State collaborated in advance of Monday's announcement, the sanctions are expected to be severe. Many columnists have weighed in on Penn State, NCAA president Mark Emmert and Monday's unprecedented announcement. There's quite a lot of disagreement about Emmert and the unusually quick route the NCAA took to this point.
Here's a sampling of what's out there ...
Yahoo! Sports' Dan Wetzel: Rather than allowing the tedious infractions process to churn on for years, there was no NCAA investigation, no hearings, no letter of inquiry, no reports, no chance for formal response, no nothing. Rather than wait for criminal cases and every last bit of evidence to trickle in, this was Emmert reading the school's own Freeh Commission report and deciding enough was enough.
The Sporting News' Matt Hayes: We have to step away from the raw emotions of a horrific moment in college football, and look at the bigger picture. You can't make a quick decision on one case because it's unthinkable in its impact and destruction on so many lives, and then drag your feet on others (Southern Cal, North Carolina, Oregon, Ohio State, Miami of Florida) that cut to the very core of amateur athletics.
The (Harrisburg) Patriot-News' David Jones: Just on speculation, I think you can count on three components being addressed by the NCAA in its penalties: a postseason ban, some sort of gesture toward Sandusky's victims, and scholarship reductions. Vacating wins? Who knows? The NCAA's record here has been uneven and perplexing. But, to me, it shouldn't even be a concern because it's in the past. If wins are vacated, so be it. It's a small price to pay for trying to plan the future. No, the most damaging of all penalties for the future would be a removal from TV. As I've said previously, that's the hammer the NCAA hasn't pulled off the shelf in a decade and a half and that's the one PSU football wants to avoid. If it can, consider that a victory.
SI.com's Andy Staples: Did Emmert pull a page from the dictator's playbook and ask for sweeping executive powers in the face of a crisis for which the democratically run organization had not planned? Is that why the NCAA's Board of Directors granted him the power to punish Penn State? I emailed the NCAA's chief spokespeople to find out how the penalty decision was made, but as of this writing, they have not responded. What we do know is that the NCAA did not follow its usual process in this case, and that should give pause to everyone in college athletics.
The York Daily Record's Frank Bodani: Put it this way: A one- or two-year bowl ban and small scholarship grab is tough but salvageable. But anything more would jeopardize the careers of recruits and even current players to stay at Penn State.
USA Today's Mike Lopresti: There is no room left for half measures, amid the foul stench of the Freeh report on what Penn State officials did and did not do to keep former football assistant Jerry Sandusky from further acts of child abuse. But there are some pretty shrill voices out there, keen to see a big-time program finally cut down to size, and a tad too eager to turn Penn State into a football wasteland.
The (Mobile) Press-Register's Tommy Hicks: The question isn't whether Penn State should receive NCAA sanctions, but whether the NCAA, which did not conduct its own investigation and did not go through any of its usual routes toward determining violations, is overstepping its authority in the interest of providing a swift reaction in response to public outcry.
CBSsports.com's Dennis Dodd: The next decision at Penn State: Whether to play football at all for a period of years. That’s right, eight and half months after it was 8-1, ranked 12th and undefeated in the Leaders Division, Penn State stands in danger of becoming Colgate, everyone’s favorite homecoming opponent. We are told it’s going to be that bad. The question is, should this nuclear option that a lot of us thought would never be used again, be in play?
Yahoo! Sports' Pat Forde: The most by-the-book institution this side of the IRS appears to have thrown the book out the window. Instead, we have fast-forwarded through every customary phase of NCAA justice, alighting on something that seems to more closely approximate the NFL's current credo: In Commissioner We Trust. Fact is, I don't trust Emmert or anyone else at the NCAA to deliver a punishment that fits the crimes of Jerry Sandusky and those who enabled him. As I've stated repeatedly, this is no place for the NCAA and its manual. This is for the criminal and civil courts to decide -- and, if Penn State has the leadership and the courage, the school itself.
The Philadelphia Daily News' Rich Hoffman: Yes, there is always collateral damage when the NCAA gets involved, but we are talking about decisions made by Paterno and the rest that took place more than a decade ago now. If the NCAA cripples Penn State football, the damage will be entirely collateral. What needs to come is a mix of punishment and symbolism. What needs to happen are sanctions that attempt to make amends and also to insure that nothing like this could ever happen again.
USA Today's Eric Prisbell: Emmert's move is a strong response to a case of misconduct unlike any the association has seen in its history. Rather than view the scandal as an enforcement matter for the infractions committee, which typically acts as judge and jury in NCAA investigations, Emmert saw it as so serious it warranted action by those with more overarching power over the membership.
The Altoona Mirror's Cory Giger: Whatever punishment the NCAA hands out today, the football program likely will not be the only athletics program at Penn State to suffer. Football is the university's cash cow and helps pay for most other teams and athletic activities, so if football has to pay a hefty price, other programs, athletes and fans almost certainly would feel the pinch.
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