Esteemed members of the intercollegiate athletic community participated in a panel discussion Wednesday night titled, “The Future of the NCAA and Its Membership” at the State Theatre.
The John Curley Center for Sports Journalism hosted the panel with director of the Curley center Malcolm Moran as the moderator.
The panel consisted of former NCAA Presidents Cedric Dempsey and Gene Corrigan, executive director of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics Amy Perko, professor and former Penn State faculty athletics representative to the NCAA R. Scott Kretchmar, and assistant managing editor for USA Today Sports Thomas O’Toole.
Moran began the discussion by saying that current NCAA President Mark Emmert was invited but declined through a spokesperson.
In his opening statement, Dempsey said it was “very sad to see what’s happened in intercollegiate athletics today.”
Dempsey said the NCAA has always been criticized for the length of time it takes for them to issue penalties, but this might have been the first time they were criticized for the exact opposite.
“This is the first case in the history of the NCAA based on principle,” Dempsey said. “To me, that was stretched a long way.”
Another major problem Dempsey said he sees in the NCAA is a growing separation between athletics and education, which includes the decreased involvement of faculty athletic representatives.
Perko said the major challenges the NCAA face include making academics an emphasis in athletics, the governance of the NCAA, legal challenges and ultimately the credibility of the NCAA.
Kretchmar got an extended ovation from the audience after his opening statement, when he talked about the unfairness of the process of how the sanctions were given to Penn State.
“I’m disturbed about the way Penn State has been treated by the NCAA,” Kretchmar said.
He said that because all the evidence is still not in, and because of the upcoming trials, charges, and possible new charges, that the conclusions that were made were a mistake. Kretchmar also said he was disappointed in the way Penn State accepted the sanctions.
Based on the thought that the NCAA did not have jurisdiction to rule their sanctions on a non-football matter, O’Toole said he personally has heard much discussion about where NCAA will “draw the line” from now on. He said it sounds ridiculous, but people could even ask the NCAA to step in to regulate parking tickets.
Audience members were also given a chance to ask the panel questions. Some questions were asked by current Board of Trustee member Anthony Lubrano and Penn State football player Shane McGregor.
Lubrano asked a question regarding what kind of legal recourse anyone can still take against the NCAA.
Dempsey responded to the question by saying that Penn State “sacrificed” the right for legal action now that they accepted the sanctions.
Corrigan also agreed that the only thing for Penn State to do now is to move on.
“Get it behind you. Move on. You are a great school,” he said.
Other areas of discussion focused around ESPN’s role in intercollegiate athletics as well as a possible realignment in the future of the NCAA.
O’Toole said there were definitely “a lot of conflicts of interest” between ESPN and universities who wish to realign and join different conferences.
Corrigan also brought up his idea for an alternative playoff system for the BCS which included 16 teams playing games over 4 weeks that would ultimately lead to a “real champion.”