NCAA: It’s not our job to ensure educational quality


By Sara Ganim, CNN

Updated 8:47 PM ET, Wed April 1, 2015

In response to lawsuit, NCAA says it doesn’t control quality of education for student-athletes
But its website emphasizes importance of education, “opportunities to learn”
Lawsuit claims students didn’t get an education because of academic fraud at UNC

(CNN)After years of making the case that the education of athletes is paramount, the NCAA now says it has no legal responsibility to make sure education is actually delivered.

On its website, the NCAA prominently states, “It’s our commitment — and our responsibility — to give young people opportunities to learn, play and succeed.” And later, it says that “in the collegiate model of sports, the young men and women competing on the field or court are students first, athletes second.”

But the NCAA is taking a very different position in response to a lawsuit filed by former University of North Carolina athletes. The lawsuit claimed the students didn’t get an education because they were caught up in the largest known academic fraud scandal in NCAA history.

In its response, the NCAA says it has no legal responsibility “to ensure the academic integrity of the courses offered to student-athletes at its member institutions.”

Even with pages of online information about academic standards, and even though the NCAA has established a system of academic eligibility and accountability that it boasts of regularly, NCAA attorneys wrote in this court filing that “the NCAA did not assume a duty to ensure the quality of the education of student-athletes,” and “the NCAA does not have ‘direct, day-to-day, operational control’ ” over member institutions like UNC.

“It’s nonsense. It’s double talk,” said Gerald Gurney, a former athletic-academic director who is now president of The Drake Group for academic integrity in collegiate sport.

“If you look at their basic core principles, it’s all about academics, the experience, the integration of academics, and the education of the student is paramount,” Gurney said. “They seem to talk out of both sides of their mouths.”

The NCAA referred calls for comment to an online statement, which read in part:

The NCAA believes that the lawsuit misunderstands the NCAA’s role with respect to its member schools and ignores the myriad steps the NCAA has taken to assist student-athletes in being equipped to excel both in the classroom and on the playing field.

“This case is troubling for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that the law does not and has never required the NCAA to ensure that every student-athlete is actually taking full advantage of the academic and athletic opportunities provided to them,” said Donald Remy, NCAA chief legal officer.

In its response to the lawsuit, it also likened its role to that of the American Bar Association or American Medical Association, and said that those entities are not sued every time a lawyer or doctor acts inappropriately.

‘Lost its meaning’–The scandal at UNC involved thousands of athletes who, over 18 years, were funneled into classes that never met, where advisers fudged grades and accepted plagiarism so that athletes who were falling behind in class could remain eligible to play sports.

Mary Willingham, the UNC whistleblower turned NCAA critic, has for years said that athletes across the country are accepted to colleges even though they’re academically underprepared and then pushed into classes where little work is required. The system of eligibility that the NCAA brags about, she says, is a sham.

“Why do we go through the trouble of compliance if we can’t legitimize that the courses are real and the education is real anyway? It makes no sense,” said Willingham, who recently wrote a book about the UNC scandal called “Cheated.” “If they can’t legitimize that the academics are real and take no responsibility for that, then why certify students semester after semester to play? It’s lost its meaning for me.”

The NCAA’s claim that it’s hands-off when it comes to athletics seems to be a direct contradiction of what the organization has been repeating for years, not just in the rhetoric on its website, but in speeches by its president, Mark Emmert, and in court defending itself from numerous lawsuits over paying athletes.

For example, before it lost a case filed by former UCLA player Ed O’Bannon, suing for the right of athletes to make money off their images and likenesses, the NCAA stood on the pillar of amateurism, insisting that college athletes are paid with an education.

That’s the defense the NCAA is now using in another class action filed by big-time sports attorney Jeffrey Kessler, seeking to make college sports a free market where athletes are paid salaries based on their value.

In response, the NCAA said that what sets college sports apart from pros is education: Consistent with “its commitment to amateurism, member institutions conduct their athletics programs for students who choose to participate in intercollegiate athletics as a part of their educational experience and in accordance with NCAA bylaws.”

Attorney Michael Hausfeld, who represented both O’Bannon and now the UNC athletes, said this:

“This startling inconsistency is unfortunately all too symptomatic of the NCAA’s shifting rhetoric and faltering commitment to its college athletes. NCAA President Mark Emmert has repeatedly proposed that ‘What we live for is the education of our athletes,’ but the NCAA’s record tells a far different story.”

But Rick Burton, professor of sport management at Syracuse University, said it’s not realistic to think that the NCAA would regulate every professor and every course an athlete might take at each university across the country.

“I understand, I think, where the NCAA is coming from. We would not let the NCAA come in and tell us how to run our chemistry department at Syracuse University,” he said.

“It sounds like someone is trying to say the NCAA should have been supervising that department at the University of North Carolina, and there’s no logic to that,” he said. “The people who are saying the NCAA should be held accountable for academics at every school are just looking for an opportunity to throw rocks at the NCAA.”

UNC, which was also sued, has admitted to the fraud, but also asked for a judge to throw out the case, saying the athletes waited too long — seven years — to sue and the “educational malpractice” theory doesn’t apply. UNC claims it is protected by state law

No health and safety enforcement–This is reminiscent of another NCAA reversal.

The NCAA, which was founded a century ago to protect athletes from “dangerous and exploitive athletic practices,” now says it does not enforce health and safety rules.

In fact, in response to a lawsuit filed by the family of a player who died in 2011, the NCAA wrote: “The NCAA denies that it has a legal duty to protect student-athletes.”

A CNN investigation found that the NCAA has failed to open investigations in several cases where safety rules allegedly were broken. It has also fallen behind in imposing rules for concussions — far behind even the NFL.

Ramogi Huma, president of the National College Players Association, and a leading thorn in the NCAA’s side for decades, said this latest backpedaling from the NCAA leaves him wondering why the organization exists at all.

“There’s nothing left the NCAA can claim it does that is beneficial to college athletes or society. One has to wonder what does the NCAA do if it doesn’t protect players? If it doesn’t play a role in the education of college athletics? It begs the question of why does the NCAA exist — and why does it have a tax exemption.”

Suhey Directs Erickson to Tear Down Statue


Recent court depositions, and the discovery process for the Paterno estate’s lawsuit against the NCAA, show that the Paterno statue should have never been removed.

It therefore needs to be returned to its rightful place effective immediately.

Trustees Kenneth Frazier and Keith Masser were forced to admit under oath that they and their colleagues, as of Nov. 9, 2011, not only scapegoated Joe Paterno for public relations reasons, but then lied about this in March 2012 when they said they fired Paterno for “failure of leadership.” Masser’s deposition says, “The decision to remove Paterno had nothing to do with what he had known, what he hadn’t done.

It was based upon the distraction of having him on the sidelines would have caused the university and the current football team harm.”

Nobody who scapegoats any subordinate is qualified to hold any position of trust, and no organization can afford to tolerate liars in responsible positions. Discovery in the Paterno estate’s lawsuit, meanwhile, obtained an email in which ex-Trustee Paul Suhey directed former President Rodney Erickson to remove the statue to placate the now-disgraced NCAA.

“I don’t care if you have to bring your own bulldozer over and drag it to your farm, do it!” Suhey wrote, to which Erickson replied, “That’s precisely what I’m trying to do, Paul. Was on the phone earlier with Mark Emmert.”

As far as I can tell, Suhey had no authority as an individual trustee to give Erickson this directive, and Erickson had no right to obey it.

Karen Peetz–Honesty and Integrity is an Issue For Her


Ms. Karen B. Peetz has been the President of The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation since January 01, 2013 and serves as its President of BNY Mellon NA. Ms. Peetz served as the Chief Executive Officer of BNY Mellon’s Issuer, Treasury & Broker Dealer Services since July 2008.

She was Chairman of the Pennsylvania State University’s Board of Trustees when the Consent Decree with the NCAA was signed. Ms. Peetz has a Bachelor of Science from Pennsylvania State University and a Master of Science from Johns Hopkins University.

Bank of New York Mellon will pay $714 million to settle state and federal charges that it engaged in a scheme to defraud clients by systematically adding hidden spreads to foreign currency trades executed on their behalf, government prosecutors announced Thursday.
BNY Mellon, based in New York, “admitted the factual details of its fraud” and will fire certain executives involved in the fraud, including the head of products management, David Nichols, who was named as a defendant in the federal lawsuit, according to New York’s attorney general and the U.S Attorney’s office in Manhattan. The trust and custody giant also will “reform its practices to improve and increase the information it provides to its customers,” the joint release said.
BNY Mellon had foreshadowed the settlement last month in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing in which it said it was revising fourth-quarter earnings downward by $598 million to account for the anticipated deal.
State and federal fraud charges in the matter were filed in 2011. A former currency trader for BNY Mellon in Pittsburgh, Grant Wilson, was previously identified as a whistleblower in the case.

Age 58

Total Calculated Compensation 5,532,958

She is connected to 225 board members in 6 different organizations across 7 different industries

Ex-PSU President Files Defamation Suit Over Sandusky Report


STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Former Penn State president Graham Spanier filed a defamation lawsuit Wednesday that accuses ex-FBI director Louis Freeh of scapegoating him in Freeh’s scathing report on the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

The long-promised lawsuit called the Freeh report “a public relations product” that faulted Spanier, then-football coach Joe Paterno and other school leaders in order to vindicate the board, which had hired Freeh to conduct the internal probe amid allegations concerning Sandusky, a former assistant coach.

The suit also accused the university of breach of contract.

“The Penn State Board of Trustees needed Freeh to assign blame for Sandusky’s behavior and to justify the hasty personnel decisions made in the aftermath of the Sandusky scandal,” Spanier’s lawyer, Libby Locke, wrote in a press release.

By the time of the July 2012 report, the board had fired Paterno, gotten Spanier to resign and sent vice president Gary Schultz back into retirement, the lawsuit noted.

Spanier, Schultz and former athletic director Timothy Curley are still awaiting a criminal trial over their handling of complaints that Sandusky was molesting children.

Freeh also knew the NCAA expected him to target high-level school officials “to justify the NCAA’s highly dubious claim to have jurisdiction to punish Penn State for Sandusky’s actions,” the lawsuit said.

New Penn State President Eric Barron has pledged to review both the report and the source material, given the acrimony that has developed in its wake. Freeh’s report was issued shortly before a consent decree between Penn State and the NCAA that resulted in a four-year bowl ban, a $60 million fine and a temporary loss of football scholarships. The NCAA recently ended the bowl ban and restored the scholarships.

Freeh’s office did not immediately return a message Wednesday seeking comment. A university spokesman said officials would have no comment until they can review the complaint.

2015 Trustee Election


After three years of a slow-motion coup, with angry alumni trying to put their stamp on a Penn State board of trustees that many felt they no longer recognized, the revolution, it appears, is over.

In a manner of speaking, anyway. The university announced Monday that just three alumni candidates have qualified for this spring’s ballot for three open alumni trustee seats, meaning the April 10 through May 7 election is essentially uncontested. So, without further ado, PennLive projects the May’s trustee election winners: incumbents Anthony Lubrano and Ryan McCombie, and newcomer Rob Tribeck, a Harrisburg attorney. But seriously, this is an incredible turn of events after three years of unprecedented interest and participation in the alum election process: No less than 86 candidates entered the field in 2012, the first year after the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal turned the public perceptions of the school on its head. Even last year, a field of 30 entered the scrum for three seats. One clear victor here is the grassroots alumni group Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship, which has pretty much owned the alumni election process over the last three years, whether it was fighting incumbent alumni trustees or other slates that argued the PS4RS way was too extreme. The group had thrown its endorsements to Lubrano, McCombie and Tribeck this year. But the drop in candidate interest is also likely due to the fact that the alumni as a whole have no more directly-elected members remaining from the board that voted to, among other things, fire the beloved Joe Paterno. Along the way, big-name incumbents like Jesse Arnelle, Joel Myers, and Paul Suhey have been defeated, or withdrawn from the race before they could be. PS4RS spokeswoman Maribeth Roman Schmidt certainly proclaimed victory after the ballot was set Monday. She said, in part: “Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship is proud of the role we’ve been able to fill in bringing together an active, forceful community of more than 40,000 Penn Staters who have stood up for our tradition of “success with honor” through the university’s darkest days. “We are growing and will continue to be a strong voice for alumni and supporters who believe that truth and justice are worth fighting for.” The nine alumni members still don’t represent anything close to a majority of the overall board. But they have begun to wield influence on some issues as the overall board has gradually turned over, and they certainly give voice to a passionate group of supporters that had felt disenfranchised after the events of November 2011.–Charles Thompson

Keith Oelbermann and His Antics


The Penn State faithful were up in arms following last week’s $13 million THON total and the stupid remarks made on Twitter by an ESPN personality.
The ESPN personality in question has apparently been less than kind in his previous comments about the Sandusky scandal and Penn State in general but particularly in the recent repealing of the sanctions and the return of the 112 wins.
After THON and the Penn State community’s amazing effort in the support of The Four Diamonds Fund, an organization that provides financial support for research and treatment of pediatric cancer, a 1982 graduate of Penn State sent a “tweet” to said ESPN personality with a “WE ARE” and included a link to a THON video.
His response was “Pitiful.”
The Twitter-sphere exploded with Penn Staters calling ESPN guy out on his disrespect for the university. He continued to fire back. Fast forward to the end of the story and ESPN comes out with an apology, the sportscaster issues his own lame apology and then ESPN announces that he will be suspended for five days (with pay). There is an on-line petition with a mounting number of signatures requesting that the employee be permanently canned from ESPN.
In the service of not enabling the attention addiction that seems to be the curse of celebrity, I refuse to even type his name.
Through social media and bad decisions, even a has-been celebrity or sports personality can turn up the wattage of the spotlight and make it last just a little bit longer.
The last time this same sportscaster made particularly stupid comments he was fired from his job and then eventually picked up by ESPN. This time he disparages a whole university including its students and alumni and gets a five day vacation with pay.
It’s really not much different than the toddler in the department store shopping cart that gets the toy after throwing a temper tantrum. We will see this behavior again.
Reinforcing bad decisions and attention seeking guarantees it will be repeated.
by Patty Kleban on March 02, 2015 6:15 AM

Penn State projected up to 84 scholarship players in 2015


James Franklin When Penn State was slammed with a significant reduction in scholarships in 2011 it was expected to take about a decade before Penn State could get back to full strength, if it ever did. Times have changed rather quickly for Penn State’s football program as the NCAA has scaled back and rescinded sanction terms following positive annual reviews from George Mitchell and ongoing legal battles. Now, on the eve of National Signing Day, Penn State is currently projected to have a roster with 84 scholarships filled in 2015.

This is the first full recruiting class Penn State has been able to attempt to fill since being hit with sanctions by the NCAA. The NCAA restored some scholarships in time for last season’s recruiting class to be put together, but this is the first 25-scholarship limit Penn State has had. It was filled today with new breaking Tuesday afternoon Penn State had flipped linebacker Kevin Givens from Pittsburgh to Penn State. He is Penn State’s 25th member of the Class of 2015, which includes three early enrollees this semester and a junior college transfer with junior eligibility.

With a full set of scholarships filled in the Class of 2015, Penn State is now back to a 84-scholarship roster. The work and planning done previously under Bill O’Brien seems to have paid off in this respect by helping to make this a possibility. Penn State will have 12 players with senior eligibility this season, 17 with junior eligibility and 16 with sophomore eligibility. Penn State had 15 players redshirted last season that will be eligible to play this year, bringing the total to 60 scholarship players returning in the fall.

Penn State may have filled all 84 scholarships allowed by the NCAA, but it is still going to be another year or two before Penn State is taking the field with a full active roster of scholarship players. Penn State will have 84 scholarship players, but how many of the incoming Class of 2015 players sit out with a redshirt this fall remains unknown. Roster management will continue to be key for James Franklin and his staff.

Penn State is locking down the second-ranked class in the Big Ten, trailing only defending national champion Ohio State.

Correction: This story previously claimed Penn State would have 85 scholarships. It has been edited to more accuarely detail the 84 scholarships on roster.