Tuesday, July 23, 2013

NCAA Seeks to Dismiss Case

Or, What is something we all expected for $500, Alex?

According to this article on Yahoo Sports . . .
The NCAA also firmly denied a claim that it had conspired with former FBI director Louis Freeh's team in formulating the sanctions. Freeh led the school's internal investigation into the scandal, and the Paterno family and three former school officials have vehemently denied Freeh's scathing allegations of a cover-up. 
''Their suit complains primarily about the conclusions of the Freeh Report, conducted at the behest of the Penn State Board, and the university's acceptance of its findings,'' NCAA chief legal officer Donald Remy said in a statement outlining the organization's arguments. ''The NCAA did not commission the Freeh Report nor had any role in it."

Yet, the NCAA had no problem using that report as the sole basis for their unprecedented punishment of a member school.

I must admit, though, that the NCAA attorney's are absolutely brilliant.  The whole Consent Decree thing has to be one of the legal coups in the history of this country.

We didn't commission the report (or conspire with it) yet we used it in place of our investigation.  You commissioned the report, tacitly accepted the report, and agreed to allow us to punish you for it.

I just hope the courts realize that all this legal posturing and pointing out technicalities doesn't divert attention to the fact that these actions have HARMED other people, whether they were party to these shenanigans or not.

This is America.  Why not ALLOW the courts to actually examine this situation?  If the NCAA is really innocent of any wrongdoing, then presumably they will be acquitted. 

If the Freeh Report fits, then they must acquit!  Do a victory dance and counter sue the Paterno's et. al. for your court expenses, lost revenue, etc.

I have a feeling, though, that the NCAA is far from confident that the courts will find in their favor, and dismissal is not only a legal tactic, but an essential survival tactic.

At this point, there are several trustees still part of the original suit which hopefully will give further credence to "standing."

Newly elected-trustees have also come forward on PS4RS:
As newly elected Trustees to the Board of Trustees of The Pennsylvania State University, we want to make clear that we fully support the legal claims filed against the NCAA by our Trustee colleagues Al Clemens, Ryan McCombie, Peter Khoury, Anthony Lubrano and Adam Taliaferro. 
Based on information we have reviewed, we agree the NCAA breached its contractual obligations to Penn State to treat the University and its student-athletes, coaches and administrators fairly and in accordance with the NCAA’s own constitution and bylaws. That did not happen. Rather, the University and the affected individuals were denied due process of law. 
We support a legal review of the sanctions imposed on Penn State, the basis for the sanctions and the process used to enact them. 
We further support an open and thorough review of the Freeh report by the Board of Trustees in light of accounts from credible and respected sources that the report is seriously flawed and incomplete. This report is the sole basis for the NCAA sanctions and has become the reference point for the media and the public. It is accepted as truth because the board never formally rejected it. As Board Chairman Keith Masser recently observed in USA Today however, many of the conclusions in the report appear to amount to “speculation.” In our view, this matter calls for openness, thoroughness and transparency. The greater Penn State community has been calling for this action, and they deserve no less.

I'm not holding my breath, but I am praying that the judge allows this claim to move on.  Hey!  Maybe I am in favor of MOVING ON after all!  Especially if it involves moving on all over the corrupt NCAA!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

A Midsummer Dark Night's Scheme

The Freeher: Do I really look like a guy with a plan? You know what I am? I’m a dog chasing cars. I wouldn’t know what to do with one if I caught it! You know, I just, do things. The NCAA has plans, the Trustees have plans, the Paterno’s got plans. You know, they’re schemers. Schemers trying to control their worlds. I’m not a schemer. I try to show the schemers how, pathetic, their attempts to control things really are. So, when I say, ah, come here, when I say that you and your football team was nothing personal, you know that I’m telling the truth. 

It’s the schemers that put you where you are, Spanier. You were a schemer, you had plans, and uh, look where that got you. I just did what I do best. I took your plan and I turned it on itself. Look what I did, to Penn State with a few innuendos and a couple of emails. Hm? You know what, you know what I noticed? Nobody panics when things go according to plan. Even if the plan is horrifying. If tomorrow I tell the press that like an ex-Florida player gets arrested for murder, or a truckload of academic fraud happened at North Carolina, nobody panics, because it’s all, part of the plan. But when I say that one, little old football coach covered up a scandal when he didn't, well then everyone loses their minds!

In case you are not aware, the tangled web of lawsuits continues . . .

Graham Spanier has filed a notice of intent to bring a defamation lawsuit against Louis Freeh.
Spanier, who has denied the allegations in the report, is suing Freeh and his firm, Freeh, Sporkin & Sullivan, for libel/defamation. Spanier is seeking monetary damages and is demanding a jury trial. 

Of course, you're probably already aware that the Paterno family, joined by former players, coaches, faculty members and Board of Trustee members have sued the NCAA to reverse the sanctions.
The suit, to be filed in Common Pleas Court of Centre County, Pa., alleges that the NCAA violated its own rules in meting out penalties in the wake of the child sex abuse case involving former Nittany Lions assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, penalties that were based on an investigative report by former FBI director Louis Freeh.

And recently, Coach O'Brien spoke behind closed doors to the Board of Trustees.
O’Brien addressed the trustees for more than an hour Friday morning behind closed doors during the board’s executive session at the Penn State Fayette branch campus. The presentation’s slides were visible from a hallway through several full-length glass-paned doors into the room where the session was held. 
But, one of the presentation slides had the heading “potential proposal to modify sanctions” and another had a heading concerning the impact of the scholarship reductions that are part of the sanctions. 
Another slide read “Individual lawsuits do not help us!” with the words “do not” underlined and in capital letters.
This latter slide has prompted a surge of Internet speculation drawing lines between those who support O'Brien's decision to reduce the sanctions and "move on:" versus those who still seek the truth, even if sanctions persist.

My Take:

Glass doors?  Seriously?  If that wasn't planned, for the effect that it is having, then I've never been a Penn State fan.

Look.  Bill O'Brien is stepping up to the plate for his team.  His slide about "INDIVIDUAL" lawsuits may not even be referring to the Paterno suit, since there are multiple parties involved.  He is concerned about his team--about giving his current players a level field to play on, to give his team depth so that his players aren't more susceptible to injury, and to enhance recruiting which gives more students a chance to earn a Penn State degree.

None of the players on this team have anything to do with what allegedly happened, and penalizing the program isn't helping a single victim one iota.  The NCAA over-stepped its authority.  The Freeh Report is flawed.  Not a single PSU administrator has yet been convicted of any wrong doing. 

Unlike the Governor's anti-trust suit against the NCAA, there is a better chance that the courts will allow the Paterno suit to proceed, i.e. that the plaintiff's have standing.  While that doesn't mean the NCAA will lose, it does mean that the next phase--discovery--will allow the representing attorneys the opportunity to subpoena NCAA records, which from what I've been told, could open up a significant can of worms.

It is probably true that pending lawsuits against the NCAA would probably deter the organization from reducing any sanctions currently.  But that may be part of the scheme.  The NCAA may be more likely to reduce the sanctions--if certain or all lawsuits are dropped.  Whether intentionally or not, the Paterno Suit actually gives the NCAA some ammunition to continue the sanctions despite the fact that Penn State has behaved and implemented most of the changes recommended by the Gospel According to Freeh.

So what do you think?

Has O'Brien sold out to the move-on proponents, just to make things go away without any regard to the truth?  Or is he just fighting for his team with no political agenda to further?

I lean toward the latter.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Donations Up Despite Dismay

The Centre Daily Times notes that donations at Penn State are up 15% over the previous year, despite " a year filled with turmoil and alumni angst."
That’s the second-highest figure in that category in university history, Kirsch said. It is eclipsed only by $274.8 million in the 2010-2011 fiscal year, when alumnus Terry Pegula donated more than $100 million toward a hockey arena here and NCAA Division I hockey programs . 
Of the $237.8 million in cash for this past fiscal year, alumni contributed $87.6 million of the total, Kirsch said. That is up 19 percent from the previous year, when alumni gave $70.9 million. 
While the alumni donations are up, the number of alumni who donated is down almost 5 percent. The fiscal year that just ended saw 72,111 alumni give money to the university, but the year before, 75,593 alumni gave.
This has prompted some on the message boards in Nittany Nation to question the sanity of those who still give money when the Board of Trustees continues to push a "move on" agenda without any regard to truth and members continue to shirk their own responsibility in the whole scandal.
Oooh Rodney, you almost had it!

One poster writes:
I am proud to skew the data. I was a contributor, so I am in the count. I taped a penny to the annual fund card with a note that substantially more will follow when there is real governance reform.
I loathe this BoT. How could anyone donate?

Unfortunately, as angry as we are about how the BOT handled this whole mess, withholding donations is simply not a practical method for effecting change.  Loyalty to Penn State transcends the mistakes that may have been made (I qualify this as the trials of Schultz, Curley, etc. are still pending) and the mistakes that were made (e.g. the way Joe Paterno was sacrificed to the media) and not all donating alumni give a hoot about the football program.  The situation is eerily analogous to Catholics who continue to donate to their church despite horrendous allegations of abuse by individual priests.  An effort like this would have as much chance of success as organizing everyone to withhold paying taxes in protest of the government until Congress agreed to stop wasting our money.  The theory is good, but the real-world application is impossible.  But I digress.

First of all, ask yourself this . . . who is hurt by decreased donations?  Students.  If you think for one minute that Rodney Erickson will have his salary cut because of diminished donations then you live in a dream world.  You need to look no further than financial institutions which gave lucrative bonuses to CEO's as the government bailed those same institutions out of bankruptcy. 

I will be the first to admit that my contribution to Penn State is almost purely based on the personal benefit of retaining and purchasing football tickets.  I have no shame in admitting that the amount of money I would donate if I were not a football fan would be significantly less.  I have plenty of other worthy charities, schools, and organizations to support thank you very much.  And when I sit in Beaver Stadium and look around me, I am not alone in this.

What gain would there be for an empty stadium, assuming it were possible to convince every ticket holder not to renew?  Again, who is hurt?  Penn State still has their TV contract and Big Ten money.  The student-athletes would suffer.  Recruiting would suffer.  The coaches would suffer--maybe even prompting O'Brien to leave over the lack of support.  Are you willing to risk that to make a statement about the Board of Trustees????  The fans would suffer, denying themselves the stadium experience and perhaps risking their seats for future years with no restrictions and a team perhaps competing for a national title.  And if you think for one second that Rodney Erickson, John Surma, Karen Peetz or Keith Masser will suffer, then you are truly delusional and perhaps dangerous.

So what say you?  If you have donated previously, did you continue to donate?  Did you stop because of the leadership vacuum at Penn State?  If you withheld money, do you feel your voice has been heard?

Sunday, July 7, 2013

We Are . . .

Penn State!

Is there any other response?

Apparently, there is, at least in Orlando, Florida.

My family and I spent a couple of days at Universal Studios Florida while vacationing at Disney World.  One of the attractions at Universal Studios is a simulation-type "ride" called Disaster!  As an aside here, any attraction billed as a "ride" should actually be a ride, but we did end up in a doomed subway car that shook, so I guess that was pretty much the ride right there.  But I digress.

A few members of the audience are selected as cast members, and everyone proceeds through a process of filming a disaster-type movie.

After the casting session, the "associate director" instructs the audience that when he yells "We Are . . ." the audience is supposed to respond by yelling back, "Moving On!"  And then you actually move on to the next segment of the "ride." 

Was this guy hired by the Board of Trustees?

Of course, much to the horror of my teenage children, I yelled out "Penn State" the first time he yelled "We Are."  Well what would you have done?  I actually said it every time he yelled it, but at a low enough level that my wife and children wouldn't be embarrassed and desert me.

It's actually very ironic that the response they were looking for was MOVING ON and the film is a disaster flick.

What think you?