Corbett’s Missed Argument Against the NCAA

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett’s lawsuit against the NCAA is based, in part, on the idea that Penn State had to go through the normal infractions process. That idea is expressed like this in the lawsuit:

No enforcement action may be brought or discussed directly with the member institution outside of the Committee on Infractions’ process.

First of all, that statement is incorrect. Under the NCAA Constitution, the enforcement program is used to discipline member institutions between NCAA Conventions:

Disciplinary or corrective actions other than suspension or termination of membership may be effected during the period between annual Conventions for violation of NCAA rules. (See Bylaws 19 and 32 for enforcement regulations, policies and procedures.)

Harkening back to the Sanity Code and the Sinful Seven, members may be disciplined or have their membership terminated or suspended at the annual NCAA Convention. This was previously discussed looking at the possibility of Penn State being voted out of the NCAA.

The membership of any active member failing to maintain the academic or athletics standards required for such membership or failing to meet the conditions and obligations of membership may be suspended, terminated or otherwise disciplined by a vote of two-thirds of the delegates present and voting at an annual Convention.

A good sign that someone has not taken the necessary time and care to review NCAA rules before relying on them is when they get something wrong that would be in their favor. The fact that discipline can be handed out at the NCAA Convention helps Pennsylvania’s case. A complaint does not have to be the most precise legal document, but between this, other errors, and inconsistent citation of NCAA bylaws, the understanding of NCAA rules leaves a lot to be desired.

The argument should be not that the Executive Committee, Division I Board of Directors, and President Mark Emmert simply ignored the enforcement process. It should be that those parties also ignored an existing process that was available to them in unprecedented or extraordinary situations.


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