Jay Paterno was right: The NCAA horribly botched Penn State penalty
He didn’t even READ it?
Some new facts have come to light regarding Penn State’s deservedly harsh NCAA sanctions and the Freeh Report that initiated them, and they are not flattering to the NCAA.
On Friday, a settlement was reached that replaces the consent decree that resulted from the Freeh Report in 2012. Hold that thought for one second, though, and let’s start with yesterday.
Court documents filed Thursday in the Paterno family lawsuit — which called for the consent decree to be voided, among other personal claims — showed that Oregon State president Ed Ray, who was the chairman of the NCAA’s executive committee at the time of Penn State’s sanctions in 2012, admitted to not even reading the Freeh Report that the consent decree was based on.
From Onward State:
"In his testimony in the Paterno Family’s ongoing case, Ray admitted that he was unaware that he needed to prep for anything related to the Freeh Report before the organization’s executive board met to discuss possible sanctions on the University. Instead, Ray spent time in Hawaii where he was unable to read the entire report. Ray said he returned on the 19th or 20th and approved the consent decree on the 21st without actually reading the report that was the basis of those sanctions. It’s worth noting that the entire Freeh report was viewable and downloadable online for the entirety of Ray’s trip and two days before."
Ray said he may — may — "have looked at the executive summary when it came out, and certainty (stet) read press accounts," but did not actually sit down with the full commissioned report.
Hold on, there’s more.
Deeper into the deposition, Ray admits that not only did he not read the Freeh Report, but he also didn’t read the full consent decree either.
Just to refresh you on the consent decree, here are the initial penalties the NCAA issued Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal:
• A $60 million fine to be paid over a five-year period "into an endowment for programs preventing child sexual abuse and/or assisting the victims of child sexual abuse."
• A four-year postseason ban.
• Four years of reduced scholarship.
• Five years of probation.
• Vacating all Joe Paterno wins from 1998-2011.
The NCAA already backtracked on most of those sanctions in the wake of negligent information — Penn State was allowed to play in a bowl game this season, and it will regain its full allotment of scholarships for next year (two years early) — and now Friday’s settlement brings further corrections.
The settlement still must receive board approval from Penn State and the NCAA, but here are the main points:
• Joe Paterno’s 111 vacated victories (plus one other PSU win) from ’98-11 are restored, meaning he’s once again the all-time leader in wins at 409.
• Penn State will still pay the complete $60 million to help fight child abuse, and that money will be spent in the state of Pennsylvania.
• Straight from the press release: "Penn State acknowledges the NCAA’s legitimate and good faith interest and concern regarding the Jerry Sandusky matter." OK, sure, whatever that means.
• Penn State will enter into an "Athletics Integrity Agreement" with the NCAA and collaborate on best practices for compliance.
And, finally, buried at the bottom of the press release is this: "The NCAA will aggressively defend the Paterno estate’s challenge to the validity of the now-replaced consent decree."
So the NCAA settled because it became abundantly clear how inadequate and poorly constructed the consent decree was, but now it’s going to "aggressively defend" claims that the decree was inadequate and poorly constructed? Got it.
From the day the Freeh Report and consent decree were released, Jay Paterno, Joe’s son, has been at the forefront of calling out their deficiencies.
In September, a judge agreed with him and called for "full range of discovery," which means members who had a role in drawing and issuing the consent decree (like Ray) could be called to testify under oath, in addition to giving his family permission to proceed with claims of defamation.
All of that is why we’re here and have a settlement to this lawsuit (the Paterno estate is still seeking personal damages).
None of us feel sympathy for Penn State in the wake of the Sandusky scandal. Nothing has changed for the true victims in all this, and some severe punishment for the program was warranted. But that doesn’t excuse the NCAA’s complete disregard for a thorough, honest and fair process when determining what Penn State’s penalties should have been.
Teddy Mitrosilis is an editor and writer for FOXSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @TMitrosilis and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.