Panelists Discuss Future of NCAA at State Theatre
Five individuals with vast experience working within college athletics convened at the State Theatre in downtown State College Wednesday night for a panel discussing the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the state of amateur sports.
Current NCAA president Mark Emmert was invited to the discussion but declined, so the show went on with former presidents Gene Corrigan and Cedric Dempsey, Knight Commission spokeswoman Amy Perko, former NCAA representative R. Scott Kretchmar, and USA Today sports editor Thomas O’Toole. Malcolm Moran, the Knight Chair in Sports Journalism and Society within the College of Communications, moderated the discussion that lasted 90 minutes and featured questions from members of the audience including trustee Anthony Lubrano and Penn State backup quarterback Shane McGregor.
A variety of topics were covered, but the main two centered around the NCAA’s handling of the Penn State scandal and the future of the organization. Unsurprisingly, given his comments a day earlier, Kretchmar made it clear that he disagreed with the NCAA’s decision regarding the Penn State situation and wished the university put up more of a fight. “I’m disturbed by what happened at Penn State. I’m equally disturbed that Penn State has not fought back,” said Kretchmar.
The former Faculty Athletics Representative for the school went on to criticize the conclusions made in the Freeh Report and Emmert’s decision regarding Penn State sanctions. “Why would the Penn State case give any reason to place more confidence in the moral authority of the NCAA?” Kretchmar asked aloud.
When asked how they might have handled the situation differently, Corrigan said that he would have first gone to the school to learn all of the possible information. Dempsey agreed, pointing out the uniqueness surrounding the case and making it clear that he would not have signed the consent decree if in Rodney Erickson’s position. “Penn State was the first case that was based upon principle. All of the other cases have been based on bylaws,” said Dempsey.
By immediately agreeing to the penalties, Dempsey believed Penn State lost any leverage it may have possessed to fight back following the sanctions. “I doubt it,” was his response when a member of the audience asked if a letter-writing campaign to Emmert and the NCAA would be effective. Perko echoed this sentiment saying she did not think the NCAA would have been able to move forward with the unprecedented penalties had Penn State not agreed from the onset.
Lubrano would take to the microphone to criticize the people he is tasked with working alongside of by saying “Louis Freeh got it right. We do have a culture problem here at Penn State, and it lies in the Board of Trustees.” Dempsey disputed this saying he believed the BoT handled the situation decently once they learned about it and offered a word of advice. “I would caution the Board of Trustees to not overreact like the NCAA did,” added Dempsey.
McGregor wondered why the voice of the student athlete was often going unheard in certain committee meetings to which O’Toole said that it is the responsibility of the media to do a better job covering that perspective.
Some see changes coming to the NCAA including the possibility of another division as schools with successful football programs have become extremely wealthy and powerful. Aside from that, the main theme on display as the discussion progressed was that, while the sanctions may be unjust, there is not much the university can do about it at this point. “I love Penn State. You are a great school. Bury it and move on,” said Corrigan.
Corrigan would conclude the forum by saying “You have all been caught in one of the darndest things I’ve ever heard of or witnessed, and I wish you luck getting out of it.”