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Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Mark Emmert talks Penn State penalties

By Brian Bennett

ESPN.com's Mike Fish caught up with NCAA president Mark Emmert for a Q&A on the Penn State sanctions and other items, one year after the penalties were issued. You can read the whole thing here.

A few key excerpts:
Q: Could you talk about the Penn State decision? Why you made it? What the thought process was?

A: First of all, it wasn't my decision. That is one of the big points of confusion. This was a decision of the [NCAA] executive committee and the board of directors. I certainly participated in it, but as president of the association the president doesn't have the authority to make a decision like that.

Q: Did you make a recommendation? What was your role?

A: Well, we talked about all the available options. So sitting with my senior management team and looking at other circumstances that might have been relevant, recognizing there had been nothing like this, of course. And then discussing what the options were and putting them in front of the executive committee and talking those through. So it was a conversation.

Q: As you know, some people are upset, saying what transpired here with Penn State has never been done before. Or that it wasn't following due process. Do you understand and what is your response?

A: Of course, I understand. There's nothing about this case that anyone should be happy about. This was an awful circumstance. It had an extraordinarily bad impact on a lot of people's lives. No one at Penn State was happy about it, obviously. I can't imagine anybody feeling good about this ... And so the collective decision of the board, of the executive committee and of the university was to not go through another 18 months or however long it would take, two years, of inquiry when all the data were laying there and people were agreeing to what the facts were. So the move to go to a consent decree was something that all parties agreed to and recognized that that wouldn't make everyone happy. That wasn't anyone's expectation.

Q: As you look back a year later, would you have handled this in any way differently?

A: No, I think the way it was addressed by the board, the way it was discussed and explored by the university -- I think was the best that could be done under very, very difficult and trying circumstances. Again, this is a case that leaves no one feeling good here.

Q: In terms of the penalties levied against Penn State, is there any discussion or thought of revisiting those?

A: Well, that again would be up to the executive committee.

Q: Wouldn't you be part of that?

A: I'd be involved in the conversation, of course. Those are again not my decisions to be made. One of the really positive things going on here is the ongoing engagement of Sen. Mitchell [former Sen. George Mitchell and his law firm] on monitoring the implementation of a variety of changes at the university. So that provides the executive committee and the Big Ten with an opportunity to on a quarterly basis see what is going on here and how things are moving forward. I think that is healthy. If at some point the executive committee should want to revisit that question they are certainly able to do that. That, too, would be unprecedented.

The good news for Penn State fans is that Emmert didn't close the door on revisiting the sanctions at some point down the road, though he did call it "unprecedented." Emmert certainly has done some unprecedented things as NCAA president. He doesn't exactly sound eager to reduce the sanctions on the Nittany Lions, either.