PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The sanctions against Penn State – both tough and painful – will be felt in Happy Valley for four years and beyond.
Some legal observers call the NCAA’s decision misguided and misdirected.
“The difficult problem I have with it is whether or not the students — the people that are playing football — should have been sanctioned in the way they were,” Pittsburgh attorney Bill Caroselli said.
Caroselli says the sanction should have targeted the administration not students athletes who will be deprived of scholarships and post-season play.
Others say the sanctions run deeper into the central Pennsylvania economy.
“From airlines to buses to the hotels and restaurants and every small time Joe out there,” Sports attorney Ralph Cindrich said.
Cindrich says the NCAA went beyond its scope of punishing programs for things like improper recruiting and illegal benefits and says the sanctions should be challenged.
“I want the Attorney General looking into it. I want to see whether we can enjoin this NCAA — really a bunch of clowns – they have proven that historically over a period of time – come in and have an independent third party say, ‘Okay, what’s fair?’”
When the NCAA announced its sanctions, it did something it had never done before – punish a school without giving it the benefit of a fair hearing.
“I would love to see the NCAA’s authority challenged because they have not in my 40-plus years in sports distinguished themselves,” Thomas Reich, a sports attorney, said.
Reich was among a group of sports attorneys who were attending a seminar required for licensed attorneys.
One of them called the NCAA action a rush to judgment that takes away the presumption of innocence for former athletic director Tim Curley and retired vice president Gary Schultz who both face charges in the case.
“Completely demolishes the right of these defendants and maybe other potential defendants to fair trials,” Sam Reich, a criminal attorney, said.
They also criticized the NCAA’s reliance on the Louis Freeh Report which they say doesn’t tell the complete story.
“The Freeh Report because of the gentlemen that were charged criminally and because Paterno’s dead, it was based on a lot of facts that were never – there was no cross examination of witnesses,” Larry Silverman, a sports law professor, said.
Due process or not – all conclude that Penn State football will be decimated.
Cindrich says high school football players will bypass Penn State.
“There’s no way I would have considered going to a program where you were banned in that manner – it just doesn’t make any sense,” he said.
Still, at their press conference the NCAA defended the decision saying they are within in their rights and not opening up new territories of punishment for other schools.
“We do not see them as opening Pandora’s Box at all,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said. “This is a very distinct and very unique circumstance.”
Caroselli says the sanctions would withstand any outside challenge.
“The only entity that can really bring the appeal in my mind is the university itself and as I understand it, they have signed off on it.”
The sanctions may be unprecedented but in all likelihood they will stand. Penn State may just have to swallow this tough medicine and move forward.