In approximately three hours, NCAA President Mark Emmert will announce “unprecedented” sanctions against Pennsylvania State University and their football program. While we at The Empire are not privy to the NCAA’s sanction list and what it entails, there are some relatively standard punishments that can apply in this situation to punish not only the football program that permitted these atrocities to occur, but also the University as a whole that allowed it to continue in the pursuit of on field glory.
If the sanctions truly are without precedent, then we can expect the football program take the brunt of the hammer. The financial penalties alone will make a significant dent in the endowment of the University, and that is before the civil lawsuits begin. The smoldering rubble that is currently Happy Valley may take years if not decades to truly recover from what is about to happen to them.
Yet the sanctions against Penn State affect not only that school, program, and supporting community, but the conference and the entire league at large. The repercussions will be felt across the Big Ten and will impact every team on the Nittany Lion schedule from this year going forward. The aftermath of the penalties as it pertains to Penn State is for other blogs to discuss. Here, we’ll take a look at the possible sanctions for Penn State and how they affect Ohio State.
This is the sanction that hits every team on Penn State’s schedule for the duration of the penalty. These are contracts that are no longer going to be completed, causing untold financial penalties for Penn State above any fines or legal settlements. PSU would likely have to buy their way out of the contracts for the games, and the opposing teams would be scrambling to find opponents to fill those slots, possibly on very short notice.
The Buckeyes are slated to make a trip to State College on October 27th, and may find it difficult to find an opponent to fill that void on such protracted terms. Ohio U and Virginia may find it even harder, considering they have the first two games on Penn State’s schedule. With less than 45 days until the season starts, these teams would be horsetrading like crazy just to fill a whole slate.
TELEVISION BAN FOR X YEAR(S)
This is another penalty that directly affects their opponents, and the tertiary fans that have absolutely nothing to do with the sandal, the ensuing coverup, or the madness that came afterwards. This particular sanction removes a stream of revenue from the team on the other sideline, effectively punishing an entirely separate University and program for the transgressions of another.
Television dollars make up a huge chunk of a program’s operating budget, and eliminating that would effectively eliminate the sport from operating. Which may be Emmert’s intention, without actually performing the fatal deed to Penn State directly. To remove a program from the airwaves is to cut them off from the world. As the old saying goes (modified), if you have moxie, but no one is around to see it, did you really show it at all?
Vacating wins, championships, and awards certainly punishes the University and the program in such a fashion that can never be recovered. Yet this is probably the most toothless penalty of them all. What real purpose does it serve? The main person that it would affect is currently debating the Power I formation with Saint Peter.
The program might have to bring down a few banners or whitewash some memorials, but in the end, these games happened. These celebrations took place. Memories were forged on those days.
Those can never really be taken away. Which is why I have never understood the logic of vacating anything. It’s a “feel good” penalty by the NCAA, but serves no actual punitive effect going forward. The only thing it does is give guys like Matt Millen recourse to discuss, in 20 years, whether or not those banners should be restored.
In the meantime, record books have to be altered across the country, especially if the rumor is true that 1998 is the magical year that Penn State stopped playing football. Asterisks will litter the landscape as if buckets of them were dropped all across the Football Bowl Subdivision. Eddie Robinson will climb back atop the mountain, and all will be right in
REMOVAL FROM THE BIG TEN CONFERENCE
This is probably the worst thing that can happen to Penn State other than being told to close and chain their doors for 5 years after setting fire to the football stadium. Removal from the conference means being cut off from revenue sharing, automatic bowl qualification, and a whole host of other perks and pleasures that come from membership in a Big Six conference.
Yet again, this affects all teams in the conference. If they choose to continue to play Penn State in the future, none of those wins or losses will count in the conference race. I realize that that the likelihood of the remaining members continuing the partnership is slim, but push may come to shove, especially this year. This is something that Jumpin’ Jim Delaney may just consider, given that this is the worst thing that he can dole out.
We have to remember that not only will the NCAA impose sanctions, but the B1G can and probably will impose sanction on top of what the top governing body says is appropriate. You can bet that the result will not be pretty. Especially if, if the program continues, people start jumping ship.
TRANSFERS, GET YOUR TRANSFERS
Another possible byproduct of the sanctions that will be handed down is the ability of the NCAA to release the football players currently committed to the program to transfer to another program, essentially free of charge. This penalty affects all other programs in the country, but certainly not in a negative fashion, if the rumors are true.
If the NCAA permits PSU athletes to transfer to other institutions without sitting out a year, that alone is more than enough to get some high profile players to rethink their future in Happy Valley. But if the rumors are true that the transfer students won’t count against the scholarship cap of the receiving program, then Urban Meyer has to go shopping “Supermarket Sweep” style. Current recruits and players are rallying the troops and circling the wagons, but even some highly touted guys are taking the slow approach. Take Christian Hackenburg (Fork Union, VA) for example.
“At the end of the day,” Hackenburg said. “if there’s football at Penn State, I’m going to be there.”
But his father, Erik told ESPN.com that his family will be taking a more cautious and deliberate path.
“There are times when you know you need to cut bait instead of keep fishing,” he cautioned.
And while this is the least enjoyable topic to discuss, it is one that could have positive outcomes for the Buckeyes. While the majority of Buckeye Empire at large sympathizes with our NIttany Bros and Bettys, we are also pragmatic. Urban has gone into PA and taken his doggy bag home with choice morsels before, but if the whole team is opened up to him, certain decisions will have to be made. And gentleman’s agreements, are unfortunately out the window. Because the only way that players will be free to move about the country is if the program is put on lockdown for a specified time.
And if that happens, all bets are off.
We’ll keep you updated on what the NCAA actually has to say on the subject at 9am Eastern, so check back here to catch our followup.