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NCAA President Mark Emmert Maintains Support for Penn State Sanctions

by on January 17, 2014 9:52 AM

NCAA President Mark Emmert says he has no regrets over the sanctions issued against Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal.

Emmert discussed the sanctions Monday on The Seth Davis Show with Campus Insiders.

The NCAA doled out unprecedented sanctions to Penn State in response to how the university handled the child abuse scandal connected to the football program's former defensive coordinator. The sanctions included a $60 million fine for child abuse programs, a massive reduction in scholarships, and a four-year ban to college bowls.

When asked if the sanctions were a mistake, Emmert said the NCAA made the decision based on the Louis Freeh investigation the university paid for and agreed to as the facts.

"So here we had what everyone agrees is awful behavior going on, at least in part in connection with the football program and the athletic department, (and there was) an incredibly thorough investigation that the university itself had accepted, much greater and much more detailed than our enforcement staff could ever have generated and the university agreed," Emmert says. "The board of Penn State said 'and we are ordering everybody in Penn State to turn over everything these people ask for.' They did in fact have subpoena power at least inside the institution. ...(They said), 'you can look anywhere and you can dig up anything you want.' ... So along comes Penn State with this huge report. They said, 'Yup those are the facts, we buy into that.' There really wasn't any utility in dragging out for another year or two ... an investigation that would not have yielded more information than what was already in front of the committee."

When asked if he had any regrets regarding the sanctions, Emmert said he still believes the executive committee reached the proper conclusion.

"They (executive committee members) weren't focused on the criminal process ... what the executive committee was worried about was that the behavior around all of this, as outlined in that report and agreed to by the university," Emmert says. "The truth is you can't go back and run the experiment again. Yes, we had a lot of people that were unhappy ... but ask yourself, what would have been the outcome if the NCAA would have said, 'well we don't care about his, this is irrelevant to us'? What would that have done to people's faith in intercollegiate athletics? What would that have done to people's beliefs that the NCAA has high values that they expect people to live by? What would that have looked like a year and a half later? We don't know. We don't get to do those experiments. We have to make the best judgment at the time the issue is in front of us with the information in front of us and the executive committee I think did that well."

Emmert has received much criticism for the decision. However, he continues to stress that while he publicly announced the sanctions, he did not make the decision. In the interview he reiterates that the NCAA executive committee ultimately made the decision.

Still, Emmert says the decision was right and he continues to support it.

"They made those decisions collectively and I, and the chair of the executive committee, were the ones who communicated it to the world not the ones who actually made those decisions," says Emmert. "It was a group decision by a group of university presidents, with my support, to both put in place this extraordinary decision making approach to this issue and to deal with the university in a way that had never been done before predominately because of the extraordinary nature of the circumstances."

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