Big Ten: Penn State sanctions

NCAA president Mark Emmert appeared earlier Monday on ESPN Radio's "Mike & Mike in the Morning" show and discussed several topics, including the Penn State case.

In recent months, the state of Pennsylvania and the NCAA both have filed lawsuits against one another, the family of the late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno has released its own report criticizing the university-commissioned investigation conducted by former FBI director Louis Freeh, and Penn State received a favorable progress report from independent athletics integrity monitor George Mitchell. The latest report from Mitchell prompted some, like's Gene Wojciechowski, to call for the NCAA to reduce penalties on Penn State's football program, which include a postseason ban for three more years and significant scholarship losses.

Not surprisingly, Emmert, who last summer made an unprecedented decision to impose the penalties without conducting a full investigation -- the NCAA used the Freeh Report in lieu of its own probe -- said it's unlikely the sanctions will be reduced.

"We're confident in the decisions that we made," Emmert told hosts Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic. "The facts were the facts, and we operated on those. I guess if somebody were to come forward with a whole new set of facts, that would change the world, but otherwise, we're comfortable with where we are and know that we did it the right way."

Emmert went on to praise Penn State for being "incredibly cooperative" and is showing great responsibility in "working on changes in their processes and culture."

He couldn't comment on the pending lawsuits but said the NCAA is confident in its position and that he and the NCAA's executive committee assessed Penn State's case with "much greater deliberateness than the world thinks."

You can listen to the entire Emmert interview here (he begins discussing Penn State around the 5-minute mark).

Matt McGloin upset with fumble call

November, 10, 2012
Is there some sort of conspiracy against Penn State involving Big Ten officials?

You'd probably have to be wearing aluminum foil on your head right now to actually believe in such a thing. But the Nittany Lions have felt they've been on the wrong side of too many calls this season, and a key fumble ruling in Saturday's 32-23 loss at Nebraska only added to the frustration, especially for senior quarterback Matt McGloin.

We're not going to get that call here. We're not going to get that call ever, actually, against any team. It doesn't matter who the refs are. That's the way it is.

-- Penn State QB Matt McGloin
To reset: Penn State was driving in for a go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter when McGloin hit tight end Matt Lehman for a short pass from the Nebraska 3. Lehman was hit and fumbled the ball into the end zone, where the Huskers recovered for a touchback. However, replays appeared to show that Lehman broke the plane with the ball before it got knocked loose. Penn State definitely thought it was a touchdown, but the call was upheld after an official review.

After the game, referee John O’Neill issued this statement: “The ruling on the field was a fumble short of the goal line. It went to replay and the replay official said the play stood based on the views he had. It’s ultimately his decision.”

McGloin could barely contain his frustration in a postgame interview, which you can watch here in a video taped by Audrey Snyder.

"We're not going to get that call here," McGloin told reporters. "We're not going to get that call ever, actually, against any team. It doesn't matter who the refs are. That's the way it is."

When asked why he said that, McGloin responded, "Why do you think? That's the way it is, man. Write what you think."

McGloin later said that the team had an us-against-the-world mentality and knew that it was "not going to get any help whatsoever" from the officials. He also tweeted out a slow-motion video of the play.

The clear implication here is that McGloin believes Penn State is still being punished for the Jerry Sandusky scandal and NCAA probation. Head coach Bill O'Brien was asked if he thought there was some kind of conspiracy to make Penn State lose.

"We don't feel like anyone is out to get us," O'Brien said.

You can't blame McGloin for being upset with losing such a tough game on the road, and maybe it was just the heat of the moment getting to him. But there is a genuine feeling among some Penn State fans that the team has not gotten its share of breaks this season.

Cornerback Stephon Morris had a more levelheaded response when asked about the controversial call.

"The referees did the best they could, but we put ourselves in that situation," he said. "We could have gotten some more third-down stops, we could have stopped [Nebraska quarterback Taylor] Martinez and we could have stopped the run. You can't leave the game in the referees' hands. We know that. They're not perfect. Nobody's perfect. That's just on us."
The NCAA has never punished a program quite like it did Penn State football and never without first conducting a formal investigation of its own.

NCAA president Mark Emmert hopes neither will happen again.

According to's Dennis Dodd, Emmert told a group of Division I faculty representatives Monday in Texas that he never wants to go down the road he did with Penn State in July. Emmert received the green light from the NCAA board to impose severe sanctions on Penn State. In every other infractions case, the NCAA's infractions committee imposes penalties following an investigation and a formal hearing.

"The authority I used in the Penn State case I never plan to use again," Emmert said.

Emmert also confirmed again what myself and others have reported since July -- that the NCAA used the Freeh Report in lieu of a formal investigation. Because Penn State's trustees commissioned the Freeh Report, the NCAA viewed it as an equivalent to a self-report in an infractions case.

If there had been no Freeh Report, the NCAA would have launched its own investigation, Emmert said, but only after all the legal proceedings had concluded with former Penn State officials Tim Curley and Gary Schultz. The Curley and Schultz trials begin in January, and Emmert said Monday the NCAA's investigation would have lasted a year.

If that had been the case, Penn State would have been spared sanctions two full seasons (2012, 2013). While there's little doubt the NCAA still would have imposed some punishments, everything would have been delayed.

More from Monday's meeting:
Emmert was asked specifically by former NCAA infractions committee chairman Jo Potuto if he was willing to say Penn State was a "one and done" case. He replied, "If you're asking me will there be a case like Penn State in next 10-15 years, I would certainly hope not."

Although Emmert had addressed the Freeh Report's significance before, his comments Monday are sure to add fuel for those who believe Penn State didn't receive due process before being hammered and that the Freeh Report isn't viable.

Task force set up for Penn State fines

September, 18, 2012
One of the key questions lingering from the NCAA sanctions against Penn State was how the $60 million fine levied against the school would be used.

The NCAA announced on Tuesday that it has set up a 10-member task force to determine the guidelines for applying that $60 million toward child sexual abuse prevention and victim treatment programs. That task force will also appoint an independent third-party administrator to choose which groups get funding.

Under the sanctions, Penn State must pay $12 million annually over a five-year period. The NCAA said Tuesday that at least 25 percent of those annual payments will go toward organizations in Pennsylvania, and that those programs will receive the first round of funding. Pennsylvania House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody has said all of the money should stay in the state.

No Penn State-run programs are eligible to use the money, but the school will have some say in where the fines go. That's because Penn State was allowed to appoint two of the 10 members on the task force. They are Dr. Craig Hillemeier, vice dean for clinical affairs in the college of medicine, and Nan C. Crouter, dean of the college of health and human development.

University of California-Riverside chancellor Tim White will serve as chairman of the task force.

Paying out $60 million is a painful sanction for Penn State. But if anything good can come from the Jerry Sandusky scandal, it could be that this money funds programs that prevent or comfort child abuse victims.

Munson: Case for, against Penn State execs

August, 14, 2012
On Thursday, the attorneys for Gary Schultz and Tim Curley will tell Judge Todd Hoover that the former Penn State officials are being prosecuted not for deliberate falsehoods but for innocent opinions and beliefs.

Read more from's Lester Munson.

Video: Trustees support PSU president

August, 13, 2012

Penn State's board of trustees voiced its support for university president Rodney Erickson and will comply with sanctions handed down by NCAA.

Van Natta: Inside the Penn State sanctions

August, 3, 2012
When Gene Marsh got the call on the morning of July 17, he was holed up in a one-room cabin -- with no running water and no toilets -- in woodsy Chebeague Island off of Maine. "A shack fit for the Unabomber," says Marsh, a 60-year-old tart-tongued Tuscaloosa, Ala., lawyer. Only six days earlier, he had been hired by Penn State to help negotiate sanctions from the NCAA in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal. On the phone was Donald Remy, the NCAA's general counsel. The news was grim. Remy said Penn State was facing an unprecedented punishment: a multiple-season death penalty, no football for years.

"Are you overselling this?" Marsh asked.

"Absolutely not," Remy said.

As he sat in his cabin, "I just imagined an empty stadium," says Marsh, a former chairman of the NCAA's infractions committee who has since defended many schools and coaches before it, including former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel. "I thought about the wind blowing through the portals and all the economic and social and spiritual ramifications of that empty stadium. And this would last … years?"

Team bond galvanizes Penn State players

July, 31, 2012
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Paul Jones shook his head Tuesday morning as he recalled the immediate aftermath of the unprecedented sanctions levied against his Nittany Lions. He was confused, hurt, upset -- and undecided about a transfer.

The redshirt sophomore quarterback said he tried to keep busy that first week. When his mind wandered, he'd envision himself in another uniform -- such as Pitt, less than 10 miles from his McKees Rocks home. The same boy who proudly donned a Penn State jersey every Thursday during high school wasn't sure, not at first, whether he would switch schools.

"You kind of let your mind attack you," Jones said. "As a competitor, you'd think it would be nice for a bowl game or a conference championship. But I take the bond I have with my teammates over pretty much everything."

Jones stopped fielding calls from other coaches Friday, after 11 days of wrestling with the idea of suiting up for another team. He decided to remain with the blue and white shortly after listening to three of his teammates' impassioned speeches during the Big Ten's media days.

"If those guys can go through it, I can go through with it," he added. "I wouldn't turn my back on these guys because I know they wouldn't turn their back on me."

Jones' sentiment was echoed by most players Tuesday morning, following a 7 a.m. pep rally that attracted several thousand fans. Players constantly referred to team bonds and fan support as the main reasons for staying put.

Director of strength and conditioning Craig Fitzgerald went so far as to say this team would be "closer than any other team that ever played anywhere."

"They're going to look at each other 20 years from now and say, 'Goddamn, you remember me?' Yeah, we went through that. We helped keep Penn State strong," Fitzgerald said. "That's more important than just going to a damn bowl game."

Despite Tuesday's upbeat environment, several players acknowledged the team initially harbored some doubts after first hearing of the NCAA sanctions: 80 fewer scholarships over four years, a cap of 15 new scholarships each season for the next four years, a four-year bowl ban and a $60 million fine. Sophomore tailback Bill Belton admitted thoughts of transferring ran through most players' heads, and senior quarterback Matt McGloin said nearly everyone received at least one offer from another team.

[+] EnlargeMatt McGloin
AP Photo/Gene J. PuskarPenn State QB Matthew McGloin is among the players who pledged loyalty to the program in the wake of NCAA sanctions.
McGloin, a fifth-year senior, said the team stuck together because it didn't want to desert the university at its darkest time. He said transferring was never an option for him.

"That's not the type of person I am, that's not how I was brought up," McGloin said. "I'm going to stay here no matter what happens. I'm going to be true to the program and be loyal to the guys upstairs who are trying to get us prepared for the season. And, most importantly, I'm doing this for my family and the fans. They're going to stay loyal to us, so I'm going to stay loyal to them."

Only one player, walk-on backup safety Tim Buckley, has officially transferred from Penn State so far. Buckley is now on scholarship at N.C. State.

But key players, such as junior running back Silas Redd and linebacker Khairi Fortt, are still pursuing a possible transfer. Redd could announce his decision as early as today, and most players are expected to decide before Aug. 6, the first day of preseason practice.

Fitzgerald, who joined Penn State this year, said he only wants to see committed players when they open camp and hold a players' meeting.

"We want the warriors, that's what we want," he said. "After Aug. 6, we don't want the guys that are on the fence. If you're in, you're in. If you're out, you're out. So, on that meeting Aug. 6, I'm advising that just the warriors be at the meeting. That's all we want."

Podcast: Maisel, Cook on Penn State

July, 30, 2012
Ivan Maisel and Beano Cook continue to react to the Penn State story as players start investigating transferring.

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany talks about the Penn State and Ohio State scandals, and news of the conference likely staying with eight league games in the future.
CHICAGO -- A few minutes ago, we spotted Penn State coach Bill O'Brien walking through the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place, getting a feel for the lay of the land at Big Ten media days.

O'Brien has been a very busy man who has had to be in crisis mode the past few days. But there is some good news for the first-year Nittany Lions coach.

O'Brien's contract calls for the deal to be automatically extended by the same length as any NCAA sanctions incurred by the previous staff. O'Brien's agreement was originally a five-year deal; now it will be a nine-year contract. His salary is $2.3 million per year.

We'll see if O'Brien wants to stay at Penn State that long, but at least he has some measure of security as he tries to navigate through these difficult waters.

Could the situation have been even worse for the Nittany Lions? School president Rodney Erickson told "Outside the Lines" that Penn State originally faced a four-year death penalty before the NCAA settled on the four-year bowl ban, loss of scholarships and $60 million fine. NCAA president Mark Emmert confirmed the report. From Don Van Natta Jr.'s story:
"Emmert told Erickson in a phone conversation on July 17 that a majority of the NCAA's leadership wanted to levy the four-year penalty because of Penn State's leaders' roles in covering up the child sexual abuse of former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.

"Well, that's a pretty tough number to swallow," Erickson said he recalled thinking when told of the four-year possibility by Emmert. "It's unprecedented. It's a blow to the gut; there's no doubt about that ... I couldn't agree to that at all."

"Almost immediately after that conversation, intensive discussions between Penn State and the NCAA began in earnest, Erickson said. Penn State lobbied for the NCAA to take the death penalty off the table, and the NCAA described a series of other sanctions, both "punitive and corrective" in nature.

"The discussions were so secretive that most members of Penn State's embattled Board of Trustees had no idea they were happening, several trustees said."

Wow. A four-year death penalty would have basically wiped Penn State football off the map, and it would have given the Big Ten little choice but to move forward without the Nittany Lions. It might have even forced the league to look for expansion options. It would have also been a ridiculously harsh penalty.

Ed Ray, chairman of the NCAA's executive committee, told Adam on Monday that Penn State was never threatened with the death penalty. That seems very hard to believe in light of this latest report.

Erickson is facing some heat from Penn State supporters and even trustees for accepting the sanctions that the school got. But it looks like he may have avoided a much worse fate.

Podcast: ESPNU College Football

July, 25, 2012
Ivan Maisel and Beano Cook have different reactions to the sanctions against Penn State. Plus, Maisel speaks with Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien.

No one would blame any Penn State players who wanted to bolt from the program after the NCAA gave them a get-out-of-jail-free card.

But a large group of players pledged their loyalty to the Nittany Lions Wednesday in an impressive show of solidarity. More than two dozen players, led by senior running back Michael Zordich and senior linebacker Michael Mauti, gathered to give a statement about their commitment to the team this morning outside the Lasch building.

You can watch the event here.

“This program was not built by one man and this program is sure as hell not going to get torn down by one man,” Mauti said. "... No sanction, no politician can ever take away what we've got here. None of that is ever going to tear us apart. ... This is what Penn State's all about -- fighting though adversity. And we're going to show up every Saturday and we're going to raise hell."

"This is the greatest opportunity a Penn Stater can ever be given," Zordich said. "We have an obligation to Penn State, and we have the ability to fight for not just a team, not just a program, but an entire university."

The players did not take questions after the gathering. They also released the following statement as a group:
"This team is sticking together. We aren't going anywhere. And we could not be more proud to be Penn Staters now. We look at this as a great opportunity to have the ability to bring back not only a team but an entire university.

"This team has taken on more adversity than any team has faced in history which is a testament to our commitment to our team's character, our fans, and our university. One man didn't build this program and one man sure as hell cannot tear it down. This program was built on the backs of the thousands of great men who put on the Penn State uniform. Today it is no different.

"No sanction or politician can tear this team apart. No one can take away what this university means to us. We will stick together and create our own legacy. Our loyalty lies only with our teammates, coaches, fans and families. No one else.

"It's not going to be easy but we know that we have acquired the strength that we have overcome and we will embrace our anger and burn it as fuel this season.

"We can't wait for September 1 and to be back in Beaver Stadium and playing for Penn State in front of the best fans in the nation. We ask everyone to come out, show the support, wear your colors proudly and show that adversity makes the Penn State nation tougher and stronger."

Some of the other players present, according to reports, included quarterback Matt McGloin, offensive linemen John Urschel and Matt Stankiewitch and defensive backs Adrian Amos and Stephon Morris. Notable in his absence was star running back Silas Redd, who is reportedly being recruited by USC. Redd is still scheduled to appear at Big Ten media days in Chicago on Thursday.

Penn State supporters had to love the loyalty and passion the players showed this morning. The team will need that kind of togetherness to overcome the many obstacles in its way.

Video: Price of Penn State's scandal (Part 2)

July, 24, 2012
A continuation of an examination by "Outside the Lines" of Penn State football in the wake of an abuse scandal and NCAA penalties.

Video: Price of Penn State's scandal

July, 24, 2012
"Outside the Lines" examines the Penn State football program in the wake of an abuse scandal and NCAA penalties.