A University of Nebraska law professor with experience on the NCAA Infractions Committee worries the NCAA might have set a precedent it doesn’t want to live with in the Penn State case.
Professor Josephine Potuto served on the Infractions Committee for nine years, even serving as its chair for a couple of those years. Potuto has served as the Cornhusker faculty representative at both the NCAA and conference level.
Potuto says if you accept the report delivered by former FBI Director Louis Freeh, the sanctions seem appropriate. The NCAA fined Penn State $60 million, banned it from bowl play for four years, reduced its football scholarships by ten a year for the next four years and released its football players to transfer to another school without loss of eligibility.
What concerns Patuto in the Penn State case is that the NCAA reached out in areas in which there wasn’t a violation of NCAA rules. NCAA officials have called the Penn State case, allegations that high-ranking Penn State officials turned a blind eye to sex abuse charges leveled against an assistant football coach, unprecedented.
Yet, it’s the precedent the NCAA might have set responding to the case that worries Potuto who notes the NCAA has in the past steadfastly resisted getting involved in cases not tied directly to NCAA violations.
“And what the NCAA used to be able to say which was if it’s true, this may be terrible. If it’s true, somebody needs to take a look. If it’s true, it certainly doesn’t meet the high standards we think that universities should meet and that we expect of athletics departments but, nonetheless, it’s not within NCAA jurisdiction,” Potuto told the Jack and John Show on Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN.
In wake of the Penn State case, pressure might be applied for the NCAA to get involved in a pending case in Montana in which a football player is accused of sexual assault or the criminal investigation into the death of a lacrosse player in Virginia.
“I didn’t think that the NCAA was an association that was set up to be a hall monitor for everything that happens on the campus, however bad it might be,” Potuto states.
Potuto says the NCAA was able to act so quickly in the Penn State case, because the university embraced the findings of the Freeh report and accepted the penalties.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:40]
AUDIO: UNL Law Professor Josephine Potuto discusses Penn State case on the Jack and John Show. [13 min.]