Did the NCAA overreact in handing down heavy sanctions on Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal?
Yes, said a panel of experts who gathered Wednesday night at the State Theatre in downtown State College.
“If Penn State were going to be saddled with unprecedented levels of penalties, one would expect commensurate levels of evidence,” Penn State professor and former Penn State NCAA faculty representative R. Scott Kretchmar said.
“Sweeping comments about a corrupt athletics culture that dominated (the) academic side of the university are just as inaccurate as hurtful,” Kretchmar added.
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This got a loud round of applause from the more than 360 people in attendance at “The Future of the NCAA and Its Membership” panel discussion.
Five panelists, including Kretchmar, discussed the duties of the NCAA and relationships with its member schools. The panelists included two former NCAA presidents, the Knight Commission’s executive director and USA Today’s assistant managing editor for sports.
Thomas O’Toole, assistant managing editor of sports at USA Today, said, “This opens the door for the NCAA to be scrutinized for any legal case.”
Former NCAA presidents did not shy away from giving their opinions on the NCAA’s procedure or how Penn State handled the sanctions.
Cedric Dempsey, NCAA president from 1994 through 2002, said Penn State should not have agreed to the consent package that NCAA President Mark Emmert presented.
This earned him a loud round of applause from the audience.
Gene Corrigan, former commissioner of the Atlantic Coast Conference and NCAA president, said he did not agree with the NCAA’s handling of the scandal within the first few days.
“I would have come to the school and found every detail I could find about it (the scandal),” Corrigan said.
“Careful deliberation and careful fact-gathering (by the NCAA) did not take place, and the NCAA accepted findings of Freeh Report and asked us to sign off on (the) outcome of investigation, we accepted the deal,” Kretchmar said.
One outspoken audience member was Anthony Lubrano, a Penn State trustee. He expressed his feeling that the Penn State has met the enemy and the enemy is the board of trustees.
Lubrano wanted to know if there was any legal action that could be taken by any party at this time besides the trustees against the NCAA.
Both Corrigan and Dempsey told him there was not because of the consent decree signed by Penn State.