Former NCAA Investigator Blasts Erickson, NCAA for Penn State Sanctions
Update 8:00 PM: Penn State University spokesperson David La Torre offered a statement on the story.
"It's disappointing the university has to comment on a statement from a former NCAA investigator to the subject of his investigation. This investigator was not involved in any discussions involving Penn State and the NCAA. Throughout all of this, Penn State President Rodney Erickson has been consistent in his account. Faced with the very real threat of the death penalty, as expressly acknowledged by the NCAA in the consent decree, he was left with no choice but to sign the consent decree. It was one of the most difficult things he has had to do in his 36 years of service to Penn State University."
Ameen Najjar, a former investigator for the NCAA, blasted Penn State President Rodney Erickson for not fighting back against the harsh sanctions imposed on Penn State last summer according to email messages filed Wednesday in the Nevin Shapiro court case.
Sharpiro, a former University of Miami football booster, is currently imprisoned for orchestrating a $930 million Ponzi scheme. Sharpiro had allegedly broken NCAA rules routinely over an eight year span as a booster for Hurricane athletes.
During the NCAA's investigation into Shapiro and the University of Miami, investigator Ameen Najjar --who was working for the NCAA at the time-- was fired following the discovery of what the NCAA called Najjar's unethical and improper actions. Najjar was fired in May of 2012, but according to court documents, kept an open line of communication with Shapiro through an email chain.
In one email, dated August 7, 2012, Najjar stated that the NCAA overstepped its bounds in the Penn State case and admonished President Rodney Erickson for not standing up for the university.
"The Penn State deal is a travesty," Najjar wrote in the email. "The NCAA did not impose anything, Penn State agreed to and self-imposed the penalties, waived all due process and waived any right to appeal. The NCAA had/has NO authority to impose any penalties in that situation and PSU's president sold the school down the river!"
In the months following the NCAA's ruling against Penn State, critics have slowly emerged questioning NCAA President Mark Emmert's actions and decisions while in office. The NCAA's rush to hand down crippling sanctions to Penn State and failure to properly monitor its own investigative branch have only increased the shouts for Emmert's removal from office.
A USA Today article released earlier this week took a closer look at Emmert's past which detailed a litany of alleged scandal and corruption around him.
"When you Google 'Emmert,' you do sort of see this pattern, which is he's a great front man, but there always seems to be these problems with the people around him," Jonathan Pelto, an investigator was quoted as saying. "Does he trust bad people? Is the problem that he doesn't know what's going on? Is the problem that he does know what's going on and doesn't do anything about it?"
Penn State enters its second year under NCAA sanctions and has continued to make progress adapting to recommendations made by Louis Freeh's internal report. It is unclear whether there will ever come a time the NCAA or any other party will revisit Penn State's sanctions, but many Nittany Lion fans may take solace in the fact they aren't the only ones who feel the NCAA overstepped its bounds.