The NCAA is set to levy the first presidential sanctioning in the association's history on Monday when it will impose what one source termed "significant" and "staggering" penalties against the Nittany Lions' football program in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, Yahoo! Sports has learned.
Two sources with knowledge of the Penn State penalties said NCAA president Mark Emmert will announce Monday that he is personally sanctioning Penn State after receiving approval from the association's Division I Board of directors, which is comprised of 22 college presidents and chancellors. One source told Yahoo! Sports that Emmert's sanctions will include a "multiple-year" bowl ban and "crippling" scholarship losses.
The move will mark a first in NCAA history, in which the president will invoke a defense of the NCAA's constitution as part of his reasoning for taking the unprecedented steps. The moment is groundbreaking in that Emmert is circumventing typical NCAA process and moving forward without an investigation by his enforcement staff. However, Emmert is expected to detail that the action is backed by a special provision allowing such a step if he receives approval from the NCAA's board of directors. A source told Y! Sports the NCAA is prepared to defend the lack of an investigation by focusing on the Freeh Report, and Emmert's determination that the report provided actionable evidence.
The report by former FBI Director Louis Freeh found that former coach Joe Paterno, former president Graham Spanier, former athletic director Tim Curley and former vice president Gary Schultz "concealed" facts tied to Sandusky's abuse of children.
Emmert's discussion of defending the NCAA's constitution is expected to focus at least in part on Article 2.4 of the NCAA's constitution, which Emmert excerpted in his letter to Penn State on Nov. 17, 2011. In that letter, Emmert cited the passage that "for intercollegiate athletics to promote the character development of participants, to enhance the integrity of higher education and to promote civility in society, student-athletes, coaches, and all others associated with these athletics programs and events should adhere to such fundamental values as respect, fairness, civility, honesty and responsibility. These values should not only be manifest in athletics participation, but also in the broad spectrum of activities affecting the athletics program."
Emmert added in that letter that such principles "are the bedrock to the foundation of intercollegiate athletics; and the membership of the Association has made clear through the enactment of relevant bylaws that they are expected to be respected and followed."
Josephine "Jo" Potuto, former NCAA Committee on Infractions member and chair, and current NCAA Faculty Athletic Representative for Nebraska, said she was conflicted about the association's involvement in the Penn State scandal.
Potuto said she was happy that when the NCAA decided to get involved, it did so completely outside normal procedures. The NCAA would have to "twist itself into a pretzel" to administer the case through its standard protocol and rules manual. However, she's also concerned about the precedent it sets for the NCAA to jump outside its standard operating procedures.
Now, Potuto said, the NCAA will have to explain itself every time it chooses not to get involved in an athletic issue on campus that is not directly related to NCAA bylaws. Having done it once, will the association feel compelled to do it again and again?
She also conjectures that Penn State has been apprised of the process and is likely onboard with having the NCAA handle the case in this manner. Potuto said she believes Penn State will have limited options for an appeal.
Emmert will announce the sanctions at a news conference 9 a.m. Monday at NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis.
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