UNIVERSITY PARK — NCAA President Mark Emmert told ESPN today that a group of NCAA presidents had decided that Penn State should receive a four-year death penalty for football as punishment for the Jerry Sandusky scandal and the Freeh investigation findings.
But days of negotiations with Penn State President Rodney Erickson took the death penalty off the table and led to the sanctions agreed to Sunday night and announced Monday in Indianapolis.
The penalties now in place include a four-year ban on postseason play, a loss of scholarships, the vacating of all wins since 1998 and a $60 million fine.
In a separate interview today, with ESPN’s “Outside The Lines,” Erickson repeated his contention that he agreed to the announced sanctions rather than face a shutdown of the football program.
On Monday, in an interview with the Centre Daily Times, Erickson said: “We had our backs to the wall on this. We did what we thought was necessary to save the program.”
Penn State’s board of trustees is holding an emergency meeting this evening at the Penn Stater Conference Center concerning the NCAA sanctions.
Erickson is reportedly in that meeting.
Erickson said in a July 17 conversation with Emmert, he was told of the NCAA’s plans to levy a four-year football shutdown because of the role university leaders played in the hiding of accusations against Sandusky in 1998 and 2001.
Erickson told ESPN his reaction to Emmert was: “It’s unprecedented. It's a blow to the gut; there’s no doubt about that ... I couldn’t agree to that at all.”
The president again said if Penn State did not agree to the sanctions announced Monday, it could also have faced a fine greater than the $60 million.
ESPN reported that several trustees said they were angered at being left out of the negotiations and were considering taking legal action in a bid to nullify the consent agreement.
On Monday, Erickson said some members of the board were consulted before he signed the deal.
“I accepted this consent decree on behalf of the university, knowing that if we did not accept the sanctions we most surely would have faced the death penalty for football over multiple years and the prospects of additional sanctions,” he said. “I felt, after conferring with board leadership and others, that it was in the best interest of the university to accept the sanctions that were offered rather than have the death penalty imposed on Penn State.”