Jerry Sandusky Scandal

Emails show NCAA process on sanctions against Penn State

“Let’s begin the review immediately. There is obviously much to consider and review in this.”

NCAA President Mark Emmert wrote that in an email to key people in his organization at 9:30 a.m. July 12, 2012, just moments after the results of Louis Freeh’s investigation of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal were released.

The email is just one of the many exchanges detailed in a 325-page document filed by attorneys for state Sen. Jake Corman on Friday. Corman and state Treasurer Rob McCord are suing the NCAA and Penn State in Commonwealth Court over enforcement of the Endowment Act, which would keep the $60 million fine levied by the sports overseers against Penn State in a special fund in Pennsylvania.

Some documents remain confidential, solid black pages of protected text.

Others offer an inside look at some behind-the-scenes discussions during the days leading up to the historic sanctions.

“The sounds of silence are not good,” said then-chairman of the NCAA Executive Committee Ed Ray in an email to onetime vice president of enforcement Julie Roe that same day. “If Penn State could have Louis Freeh conduct an investigation over the last year, why haven’t we done anything?”

Elsewhere, documents show crafting of the message on the punishment.

“We don’t want people to get the impression this was a negotiated settlement. PSU didn’t have a say in the penalties,” Vice President of Communications Bob Williams wrote July 21, 2012.

However, an email from NCAA Division I Vice President David Berst to numerous recipients appears to insinuate that Penn State did have some hand in crafting the consent decree.

“I have worked with our legal counsel and the university’s to design the consent decree that Penn State eventually agreed to,” Berst wrote.

There were also voices questioning it on legal grounds.

Gene Marsh, who had been retained by Penn State, was on the NCAA infractions committee before joining Lightfoot, Franklin and White practicing sports law.

“These are just my own views. Just mine. And they are staying inside my head,” he wrote July 19. “It is fair that PSU would pay a heavy price. It is not fair that folks on the NCAA board would try to reform college athletics through one case. It’s starting to feel like that.”

He also questioned the amount of the fine.

“Have people lost sight of the fact that PSU will be paying out tens of millions of dollars to the victims? How can people go from 30 million to 60 million in 48 hours?” he asked in the same email, adding that he thought a more traditional penalty might be better.

Ray described in a July 21, 2012, exchange with Emmert how to present the options for penalties to Penn State.

“I suggest you tell people on the call that this is your decision but you want their input regarding a summary disposition of the case. Tell them there are two options that are harsher than what one could expect out of the current enforcement process but either would offer the school closure now rather than in two years.”

Subsequently, an Oct. 29, 2012, email from Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president of academic and membership affairs, alludes to some unease on the part of one university president.

Lennon had been at a meeting with Conference USA presidents when the Penn State sanctions came up. David Leebron, president of Rice University in Houston, was teleconferenced into the meeting. He objected to a Lennon statement that there was strong support from the NCAA executive committee and the board of directors on the Penn State penalties. Leebron seemed to be upset at the speed of the sanctions and that the “timeline did not allow for as thoughtful consideration” as Leebron would have liked, Lennon wrote.