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Press Conference Q&A

Q. The Paterno family issued a statement yesterday calling the Freeh Report pretty much an indictment, a charging document, not necessarily a verdict. Don't you usually conduct your own investigation, and why did you rely so heavily on the Freeh Report?

MARK EMMERT: The Freeh Report, as well as the data that came out of the criminal trial provided extensive information in this case. The report has been accepted by the University itself. It was the result of more than 450 individual interviews, an examination of more than 3 million emails and other documents. It is vastly more involved and thorough than any investigation we've ever conducted.

Q. Does this, as speculated, open up some sort of Pandora's box to future cases, or is this unique in and of itself?

MARK EMMERT: This case is obviously incredibly unprecedented in every aspect of it, as are these actions that we're taking today, and we do not see them as opening Pandora's box at all. This is a very distinct and very unique circumstance.

Q. How much communication have you had with Penn State about this, and do you expect them to appeal in any way?

MARK EMMERT: We have informed Penn State of the findings, the adoption of the findings coming from the Freeh Report, and also of our penalties. We have crafted this in the form of a consent decree, which the University has signed as well as we have.

Q. Classify the seriousness of these sanctions for me. Do you consider this more serious than the death penalty?

MARK EMMERT: Well, I'll leave those kind of judgments to all of you. Obviously, these are very, very serious sanctions. We certainly hope, and I know President Ray and the Executive Committee hope, that the fine that's being imposed will allow some very serious good to be done out of the circumstance.

The imposition of the both ‑‑ the corrective measures and the punitive actions will most certainly have a significant impact on the University. That's their intention. I'll leave it to all of you to speculate whether that's better or worse.

I think one of the mischaracterizations that is out there that these penalties are coming somehow instead of the death penalty, I think that would be a false assumption. If the death penalty were to be imposed, I'm quite sure that the Executive Committee and I‑‑ I may ask President Ray to speak to this. The Executive Committee and I most certainly would not have agreed to just the death penalty. It would have included other penalties as well. President Ray?

ED RAY: Let me just briefly say in our discussion in the Executive Committee and the Division I Board, we were very clear that in talking about options, we were always, if the death penalty were to be considered or a suspension of play really is appropriate, that that, in and of itself, would not be the only penalty, that other elements would be there, not just punitive, but corrective, the kind that President Emmert talked about.

There was discussion. There was, I think, some preliminary sense, and I can only tell you that overwhelmingly, the Executive Committee and the Division I Board did not feel that the suspension of play would be appropriate.

And for the measures that you've just heard about, those that were able to participate in the conversation, both the Executive Committee and the Division I Board of Presidents and Chancellors unanimously supported the actions that you've heard about this morning.

Q. Might I ask a quick follow‑up. Did you take a lot of pressure from the Penn State community, businesses, things like that?


Q. Are you considering the possibility of any future sanctions for coaches who were at Penn State during the years this abuse occurred and who may be looking to coach again?

MARK EMMERT: As I said in my opening statement, we are reserving the right, after the conclusion of all of the criminal charges and proceedings that will go forward, to look into any potential investigations or penalties that may need to be imposed on individuals. But for the time being, we're not doing anything with individuals.

Q. What is the lesson for other universities right now? What should these universities be doing right now that perhaps they haven't been doing in a long time?

MARK EMMERT: Well, the‑‑ and again, I'll ask President Ray to speak to that point. Certainly, the lesson here is one of maintaining the appropriate balance of our values. Why do we play sports in the first place, and does that culture ever get to a point where it overwhelms the values of the academy, those things that we all hold dear?

And if you find yourself in a position where the athletic culture is taking precedent over the academic culture, then a variety of bad things can occur.

One would obviously hope that we would never, ever see anything of this magnitude or egregiousness again in our lives, but we do have to make sure that the cautionary tale of athletics overwhelming the core values of an institution and losing sight of why we're really participating in these activities can occur, and that's the balance that every university needs to strike.

Q. Is there anything that Penn State can do in the future to lessen these penalties, or is there nothing to be done before this is over?

MARK EMMERT: As I said, Penn State has signed a consent decree to these fact‑findings and to these penalties, and they are established as fact.

What we, of course, expect and what's intended by the corrective measures, in particular the athletic integrity agreement and the athletic integrity monitor, is to work with them to make sure that they implement the terms of that agreement.

That agreement has not been struck. It will take a number of weeks for us to craft that agreement with them. But much like occurs with a corporate integrity agreement in a corporate world, we have full expectation that all of the terms of that agreement will be implemented. Should they not be, we reserve the right to reopen this case.

Q. You mentioned the $60 million is equivalent to a year's worth of revenue from the football program. Does this also require that that money come from the athletic department or any particular source?

MARK EMMERT: It does not require a specific source. In universities, like most businesses, money is fungible. But we are insisting that this not come at the cost of reduced programs in the athletic department and other student scholarships.

Q. From the, I guess, the macro perspective here, you and your organization have been criticized the last few years for being toothless and not having power and such during rules cases. Do you think this is a statement by the NCAA that it is in charge of college athletics?

MARK EMMERT: This is a statement about this case. It is a reflection of the resolve of the Executive Committee and the Division I Board and the overall membership of the Association that the facts of this case are utterly unacceptable. And interpretations beyond that, I'll leave to others.

ED RAY: I would like to add, you know, we had a meeting of Presidents and Chancellors a year ago that Mark very wisely called together. Basically, as a group, the Presidents and Chancellors said we've had enough. This has to stop. We have to reassert our responsibilities and charge to oversee intercollegiate athletics.

So the first question you asked is does this send a message? The message is the Presidents and the Chancellors are in charge.

Somebody asked what's the‑‑ is there a deeper meaning here? And I think it's important for all of you to realize‑‑ and Mark said it, these are extraordinary circumstances. The Executive Committee has the authority to act on behalf of the entire Association in extraordinary circumstances, and we've chosen to exercise that authority. I think all of us hope we're never here again.

The second element‑‑ and Mark talked about it is ‑‑ the cautionary tale here is I think that every major college and university needs to do a gut‑check and ask where are we on the appropriate balance between the culture in athletics and the broader culture of the university and make certain that they've got the balance right. And if not, that they take corrective action.

Q. Can you speak to the decision to vacate the wins from '98 to 2011, and what does that say about Coach Paterno as being the winningest coach?

MARK EMMERT: Well, obviously, the 1998 date was selected because that's when the first reported incidents of abuse occurred and that's when the failure to respond appropriately began. And that was the point of time from which one could make an argument, of course, that the failures began inside the institution.

So it seemed to both me and to the Executive Committee that that was the appropriate beginning date. Again, I'll leave what it says about individuals to others to speculate on. The University's failures, in this case, began at that point in time and that's why that date was selected.

Q. The traditional infractions process involves a hearing where all relevant parties get to state their case and really bring their own defense. How do you reconcile that, although Penn State has signed the consent agreement, there weren't all the relevant parties represented to offer defensively to their own reputation?

MARK EMMERT: In this particular case, first of all, it's important to separate this from a traditional enforcement case. That's not what this is. This was and is action by the Executive Committee exercising their authority, working with me to correct what was seen as a horrifically egregious situation in intercollegiate athletics.

The University agreed with us that the findings of the Freeh Report provided more than ample information to sustain and support the allegations we were making. And it was simply a case that here was the date in front of us from, again, more than 450 interviews where people did, of course, have and opportunity to state the case, and the examination of millions of documents.

And so the need to move to a speedy resolution of that was self‑evident, and one should not conclude that this was an abridged enforcement process. It was completely different than an enforcement process.

Q. Is there any way, with all the other investigations coming out, that if something were to change, that the NCAA might consider leniency if anything were to change in Penn State's favor?

MARK EMMERT: I don't know that it's useful to speculate about hypothetical circumstances. We'll always deal with the facts in front of us and respond to them accordingly.

Q. In your roles through the years, you work closely with Graham Spanier and other people at Penn State on various issues. On a personal level, as you were working through this case over the last several months, what were some of your emotions? How would you describe your emotions, and how do you feel about those individuals now, particularly Spanier?

MARK EMMERT: I want to be really clear, there's nothing in this situation that anyone should feel good about. This is an awful place to be. It is not‑‑ it's not good for anyone. You look at the situation of the victims and their families here, and you always have to go back to that and say what predicament did they find themselves in? What circumstances did they have to suffer through?

You look at what's going on at the University right now. You look at the actions we're imposing here today. The right actions on our part, and we feel confident that we're doing the right thing. But no one feels good about this. No one feels like this is a positive situation in any sense, and I'm sure that includes all the individuals involved here.

I'm not going to comment on how I personally feel about individuals here. This is just an unprecedented, painful chapter in the history of intercollegiate athletics.

ED RAY: I want to point out that, quite honestly, if the University culture had been as open, transparent, forthcoming, collaborative, cooperative as Rod Erickson and the Board of Trustees at Penn State have been over the last year, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

Q. Mark, after the death penalty in '87, the ‑‑ quantitatively, the number of football violations did go down. The risks did outweigh the reward. Do you expect that same result from this?

MARK EMMERT: Well, as President Ray just said, the fundamental message here, the gut‑check message is do we have the right balance in our culture? Do we have, first and foremost, the academic values of integrity and honesty and responsibility as the drivers of our University, or are we in a position where hero worship and winning at all costs has subordinated those core values?

If that's the case, then you need to address that, and you need to address that as quickly as you can. That's the lesson here.

I hope that's what we see.

Q. We all know what Penn State's record and reputation and Joe Paterno's were before this happened. Given that this was horrific and egregious, was any consideration given of that record and the fact that, legally speaking, they were first‑time offenders?

MARK EMMERT: The entirety of the situation was examined. All of the facts, including those, were on the table and looked at. I don't think there was an element of this case that we didn't explore exhaustively and discuss very thoroughly in multiple conversations with the Executive Committee and its leadership.

Q. Dr.Emmert, when the Executive Committee decided to give you the power to act in this way, how would you describe the hesitancy or, perhaps in some cases, opposition to proceeding in this matter?

MARK EMMERT: Well, I'll let President Ray add comments as well, but I think it's accurate to describe the conversations that we were engaged in as remarkably in agreement. That the NCAA needed to act in this case was never seriously debated.

Everyone understood that this case strikes at the very heart of what intercollegiate athletics is about. And while there's been much speculation about whether this fits a specific bylaw or that specific bylaw, it certainly fits the notion, the fundamental notions of what athletics are supposed to be doing in the context of higher education.

And all of the Presidents that I talked to, all of them immediately said, of course. That's exactly what's going on here.

So from that point on, it was simply a matter of how do we proceed, not whether or not to proceed.

ED RAY: And I'll just add, really, echoing the same thing on behalf of the Executive Committee and the Division I Board, I think there was unanimous consent that what we were dealing with here was a horrific experience that struck at the very heart of the values of intercollegiate athletics and the NCAA.

I heard not a single voice in the Executive Committee or the Division I Board that wanted to step back and not take action now. It was a unanimous sense we needed to act and we needed to act quickly and effectively.

MARK EMMERT: I think, if I can add one more piece, Rece, the great challenge that we spent most of our time on was how do you craft sanctions that have the intended effect? Clearly, this calls for a punitive action. Clearly, also, it calls for corrective action to enable and also ensure that the kind of culture change occurs that's necessary at Penn State University, and at the same time has a minimal impact on innocent parties, on people who had nothing to do with this.

That's always a challenge with NCAA sanctions. We all know that. In this particular case, we crafted sanctions that we have confidence are the best we can do in this particular case to have the punitive and corrective impact and force the University to go forward from this point on.

Q. How much was taken into consideration, not giving the death penalty, of the opponents who had games scheduled with Penn State and the effect that would have on them?

MARK EMMERT: Well, it's certainly one of the many considerations on the impact of the death penalty, but I wouldn't want to emphasize that particular point.

When you think about a suspension of play, it's not just about the opponents you're going to play. It's about the band. It's about all the people that are involved in the athletic events. It's about all the people who make a living around athletic events. It's about, obviously, all the student‑athletes that are there, but that whole enterprise.

So one of the considerations, as I said, was what's the collateral damage, if you will, on the innocent. At the same time, we were very impressed by the actions of the President, Rod Erickson, and his new Chairman, and the forthrightness with which they've approached this.

The Freeh Report is the product of an amazing‑‑ I keep using the word unprecedented, but I think it's an apt word here‑‑ an unprecedented degree of openness for any University that I've ever seen. They were given free access to, pardon the pun, everything in the University to a level that is extraordinary. And then the University made that available to the public. Both actions quite remarkable.

And their willingness to provide us with that information and accept that information was also a very important factor in all of this.

Q. I wonder if you could elaborate on the independent compliance monitor. What specific steps or benchmarks will that person be watching for that would reflect a culture change?

MARK EMMERT: Yeah, great question. So we will, in the next ten weeks, work with Penn State and the Big Ten Conference. We will develop an athletic integrity agreement which will provide a road map for changing the culture inside athletics and putting in place a more formal control structure to assure that institutional control is properly in hand.

As that agreement is developed, we will then appoint, at the University's expense, an external monitor, someone ‑‑ we've not identified the individual, but someone who is not part of the NCAA or, obviously, part of the University. An independent third party who will, with staff support, monitor the progress of the University on each step of that roadmap and report back to us, to the trustees of Penn State, and to the Big Ten Conference office on progress.

Should we see that they are failing to maintain appropriate progress with that roadmap, then we have reserved the right to take other corrective steps.

Q. I wondered if you could explain a little bit more about the mechanism of the scholarship reduction, in terms of 10 initial, 20 total, what that will do to Penn State's football scholarships over the next four years.

MARK EMMERT: I have Kevin Lennon here of my staff. I may ask Kevin to step up to the podium also and discuss that in more detail. But the model is not an unfamiliar one. It is one where the total number, as you know, the new initial grants and aids are always limited to 25 in football. This will drop that limit to 15, and it will cap the total number of scholarships on the football program at 65.

But if you have other questions, Kevin can follow up.

Q. Are you worried that the $60 million fine will lead to sports being cut at Penn State, and what impact you think this will have on some of the non‑revenue sports?

MARK EMMERT: We've expressly said this cannot come at the expense of the non‑revenue sports or student‑athlete scholarships. The University is going to have to come up with a different way of managing these expenses.

That's not to say we, of course, that we immediately want it cut from the academic side of the enterprise either. That's not the appropriate solution. But the university will have to determine how to manage those challenges.

Q. Wondering if Penn State offered any sort of self‑sanctions in this process, including the possibility of not playing a season? Or was it just you guys, in terms of the penalty, imposing that?

MARK EMMERT: We just imposed these penalties.

Q. Mark, obviously, understanding the breadth and scope of the Freeh Report, was there still any questioning or did you have any discussions with your enforcement staff and with committee on infractions people about why they would not be involved in this process? Secondly, was there anything personally for you in terms of frustration dealing with the pace of sanctions being given that spurred you to be interested in this‑‑ in doing this in an expedited way?

MARK EMMERT: The point of this process that we've engaged in‑‑ and again I'll ask Ed to address this‑‑ is a reflection of the magnitude of this case and the nature of the broad‑based failures of integrity in this particular case, not of any lack of confidence in our enforcement process.

Quite the contrary. I feel very good about our enforcement process and especially the changes that are under way in that process right now.

The unusual nature of this resolution speaks more to the case itself than it does anything else. Ed?

ED RAY: I'll just say quickly, and I think staff can provide you with historical examples where the Executive Committee has found a situation that was so extraordinary, it required the Executive Committee, that has the authority to step up and exercise its right to deal with individual instances, to do so in this case.

So it is not without precedent, but it's only because of the extraordinary nature of this situation that we have, in fact, chosen to exercise that authority.

Q. Mark, what put this outside the investigative realm initially was the letter to Dr.Erickson in November. Since then, have you written a letter? There have been several other criminal cases around the country that may have come under this jurisdiction.

MARK EMMERT: No, I have not.

Q. I was just curious as to whether there was some sort of sense of urgency to get this done before the fall semester started, before football season started. And if there was, were you worried about any sort of reaction from Penn State students if there wasn't a decision made before then?

MARK EMMERT: There was clearly and remains a sense of urgency in resolving this case, period. It wasn't driven by the fall semester or upcoming football season. The timing was simply that, following the extensive work of both the criminal investigators and the Freeh Report, the information was there, and there was no compelling reason to delay the process.

MODERATOR: Next question, please.

Q. Mark, just one clarification on two things. One, it sounds like your communication with Penn State‑‑ and just correct me if I'm wrong here‑‑ was that you approached them with these penalties and they accepted them and that was it? There was no dialogue and no back and forth?

MARK EMMERT: That's right.

Q. The second thing is you haven't addressed Joe Paterno specifically yet. I'm just wondering, when you reviewed what he did, what you felt about his actions?

MARK EMMERT: Well, again, we expressly have, in these sanctions and findings, withheld judgment on individuals and will continue to do so until all of the criminal investigations have concluded. And until then, we won't have any comment on individuals.

Q. Actually, that gets to my question. The Freeh Report being as comprehensive as it's been, why? Why hold back in dealing with the individuals until after the criminal proceedings if you have enough information based on the Freeh Report?

MARK EMMERT: We don't want in any fashion to have our work become confused with or have any impact on the criminal investigations. They need to do their work. We, of course, have nothing to do with criminal investigations, and that process has to play out, as it's going to in the coming months, and then we can come in and deal with individual issues, should there be any.

Thank you very much.