DETROIT (AP) — NCAA President Mark Emmert says he is happy with the way Penn State University is responding to the sanctions handed down after the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal.
Emmert gave a speech on Friday to the Detroit Economic Club.
Afterward he told reporters what while the Penn State football team’s 1-2 start gets most of the attention, he’s been focused on the off-the-field activities.
“What’s not getting attention is the athletic-integrity agreement that Penn State signed and is taking very seriously,” he said. “We have Sen. George Mitchell involved in overseeing it, and there is no question of his credentials. That’s the part that is going to create serious change in the Penn State culture.
“We’re also in the process of collecting the $60 million fine and distributing to groups that work against child sexual abuse.”
During his session with the DEC members, he compared what Penn State had done to scandals outside sports.
“I’m speaking to a group of business men and women, so I offer this analogy,” he said. “It is always a problem in an organization when one group becomes so revered and so powerful that you not only can’t control them, you aren’t even allowed to question them. It is much the same thing that happened in many of the financial-sector problems, and it is what happened at Penn State.
“You ended up with a group inside the athletic program that was not under the control of the administration, nor did it even answer to them.”
Emmert said that was why the NCAA took action, and why he pushed for such a quick process.
“As a criminal investigation, it was none of our business,” he said. “And if, back in 1998, Penn State had heard about it and put a stop to it, it would have never been any of our business. When they didn’t do that, it became our concern.”
In a normal circumstance, the Penn State situation might still be working its way through the NCAA’s slow justice system. But Emmert, in his first year on the job, saw an opportunity to fast-track the verdict.
“Because of the Freeh Report, which was much more extensive than anything the NCAA would have ever done, we felt that we could proceed without our own investigation,” he said. “They had more power than we have – we don’t have subpoena power, which was more or less granted to them by the Penn State Board of Trustees.”
That let Emmert take immediate action and negotiate a punishment with Penn State that he says they accepted as “the least worst option” of those discussed. And, to date, he’s happy with the way things seem to be changing in Happy Valley, and the message it sends to other schools.
As for the Nittany Lions football team, he wishes them the best of luck.
“I don’t think I should comment on how the team is doing on the field, because I’m not a football expert,” he said. “I hope they do well, and I think it is good for college sports if they can succeed under their current circumstances.”
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