Gregg Doyel, a national columnist for CBS Sports, took on Penn State in his latest column and argued why the school’s football program should not receive the “death penalty” – administered only once in college football history – from the NCAA. He joined Holden Kushner and Danny Rouhier to explain his position, one that is not very favored amongst people who followed the Jerry Sandusky trial.

Doyle used logic, as he often does in his columns, to dictate that the NCAA has no jurisdiction in a criminal case, despite the magnitude of the Sandusky trial and the impact it had on the public leading up to, and as the court proceedings unfolded. Citing such prior rulings as SMU’s “death penalty” given by the NCAA in 1987 as precedent, Doyle detailed how that program had done everything to deserve being shut down, but criminal action never came into play.

The columnist went on in the article to reference programs in more recent past, such as Florida, which had almost 30 players arrested in the 5 years coached by Urban Meyer, and never once received punishment from the NCAA. His final position is that the NCAA either decides to step in, at which point the “death penalty” is the only response, or it does what it is bound to do by precedent, and stays out of it.

Danny led off the interview with a counterpoint to this position, by offering that although the NCAA may not have jurisdiction, the federal government also does not have the jurisdiction to take football away from Penn State, which holds the NCAA as morally mandated to step in. Doyle responded…logically.

“I don’t necessarily agree Penn State has to do away with football, but I’ll tell you this: It would be the damn decent thing to do. And certainly, certainly  in November, now that I think about, when this all came out it would have been a decent thing to maybe give it up at that point. I can get on board with the idea that football ought to be given a breather at Penn State, but not if it means the NCAA has to step where the NCAA doesn’t really belong stepping.”

Doyle went on to provide another example as to why the NCAA should not step in, however, citing that the governing body of college football did nothing to Baylor in 2003, when a player was convicted of killing another teammate. However, the NCAA did dole out a harsh punishment to the school involving a scholarship scandal which occurred around the same time as the murder.

Doyel conceded that the Penn State scandal is very unique and should be considered differently in the eyes of the NCAA than any other ruling it’s made prior to this point.

“If Emmert (NCAA president) can frame this in a way that can convince people that yes, this is an NCAA issue for this reason, okay fine, but just to come out and say ‘what happened there is awful, we’re going to punish you just because’ – I can’t get on board with that.”

Holden jumped in to say that no matter the consequence for Penn State football, the NCAA should wipe clean anyone at the University who knew of the scandal and did not say anything. To that, Gregg Doyel kind of agreed.

“Anybody that knew about this in ’01-’02 and didn’t make sure the cops knew enough, you’ve gotta go. It sort of seems like I’m having it both ways, maybe I kind of am. This is not a black and white deal. There’s so much grey here. I don’t think the NCAA should get involved, but if they do get involved there’s only one punishment here. What you don’t do if you’re the NCAA, if you can justify getting involved here, you don’t then say ‘we’re going to give you 4 years of a bowl ban and no t.v. and we’re going to dock some scholarships’.”

So there’s no determinate action that can be agreed upon by the three sides in this argument, as to what the NCAA should do, but Gregg did agree with Holden and Danny that something needs to happen.

“There’s something unusual about seeing 100,000 people flock to this tiny town and fill the stadium up, and cheer for a football program that granted, Sandusky’s not on the sideline anymore, Paterno’s gone, but still it was the culture and how football was so important. It was that culture that contributed, maybe even totally led to Sandusky being allowed to roam free. They didn’t create Sandusky, but they created a culture where Paterno was so powerful that no one would report his former defensive coordinator to the cops.”

You may not agree with Gregg Doyel about everything, but he certainly makes you think.


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