LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- WDRB sports columnists Rick Bozich and Eric Crawford begin every week by batting around three hot topics in the news. Today, most of the focus is on today's announcement of NCAA sanctions against Penn State.
1. The Penn State football program will be flattened by the NCAA Monday. One story has Penn State being fined at least $30 million, another says there will be a two- or three-season bowl ban and another reports that the school will be stripped of dozens of scholarships.
If true, it’s a bold and expedient move. But is it the right move?
RICK BOZICH: I’ll confess: I’m confused. The NCAA usually takes two months to return an e-mail. Now less than two weeks after the Freeh Report was released, they’ve already delivered their ruling on Penn State. Joe Paterno, president Graham Spanier and athletic director Tim Curley have all been found all guilty, guilty and guilty.
They might be. But as despicable as the crimes of Jerry Sandusky are, Spanier and Curley deserve their chance to speak.
If I’m an incoming freshman at Penn State, I’m asking for my release. If I’m a recruitable sophomore, junior or senior, I’m looking elsewhere. If I’m new coach Bill O’Brien, I’m looking for my next job.
It’s not the death penalty, but it might as well be. Frankly, I’m surprised.
ERIC CRAWFORD: Surprised doesn't begin to cover it for me. You're right. The bigger news today isn't the sanctions against Penn State, it's the process, or lack thereof, used by the NCAA. I understand that Penn State has been working on crafting these sanctions. I understand that the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions signed off on Emmert working with Penn State to craft these sanctions.
All of it stinks. It actually makes it look as if the NCAA is using these tragic events at Penn State as a power play. And make no mistake -- given the importance of precedent, the NCAA president's office will be a much more powerful place on Monday as a result of being allowed to take this kind of unprecedented presidential action.
And consider this -- what if there's WORSE stuff that hasn't been turned up yet. By such a hasty penalty, the NCAA might wind up looking even more foolish. Which is hard to believe.
Frankly, I think if the sanctions are those that have been reported, this special treatment and hasty resolution has to be considered a plus for Penn State. Yes, the penalties will greatly weaken Penn State. But not as much as they will strengthen the NCAA.
2. Why did the NCAA act so swiftly and so decisively?
RICK: Big Ten media days are scheduled for Chicago this week. We’re a couple of weeks from the start of practice. We’re less that six weeks from the start of the season. The Freeh Report laid out a story about how university administrators allegedly covered up for a now-convicted pedophile.
It’s a toxic mess, a scandal that was going to resonate in the news cycle for weeks. Penn State was slow to take these charges against Sandusky seriously.
Sounds like the NCAA and Penn State teamed up and decided it was time for bold action that delivered a message that what happened at Penn State can never happen again. This is certainly bold.
ERIC: Color me more cynical. As a result of this action, I think Mark Emmert has made himself the most powerful NCAA president since Walter Byers. If the committee on infractions is willing to hand over its mandate to Emmert on this one, what's to keep it from happening with others. What's to keep, Miami, say, from approaching Emmert, hammering out their own penalties, and circumventing NCAA due process bylaws in search of a speedier resolution.
Penn State needs NCAA resolution on this. The NCAA needs to look effectual and relevant. Both have reasons for settling this quickly. Not among those reasons is doing right by those who were victimized -- no matter how much of this unprecedented fine goes to charity.
3. The Olympics begin next weekend in London. What Olympic story fascinates you?
ERIC: I still think Michael Phelps vs. Ryan Lochte is the top draw. Phelps is looking to add to his claim as the greatest American Olympian. Lochte is more likable, has a more marketable and magnetic personality and, oh, can swim a little bit too.
I think the men's basketball will be surprisingly competitive (witness the US vs. Argentina basketball game Sunday night), but when Phelps and Lochte are in the water, watch the ratings spike, and for good reason.
RICK: I’m a track and field guy. There’s a gunfighter drama to the 100-meter dash. I’ll never forget the Ben Johnson vs. Carl Lewis showdown in the 100 meters in Seoul in 1988.
I love watching Usain Bolt run. He runs like one of those characters in a Marvel comic book. He should be an amazing sprinter in London.
He’s great, but he might not be great enough to beat his Jamaican teammate – Yohan Blake. Remember that name: Blake beat Bolt in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes in the Jamaican Olympic Trials. Can’t wait.
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