The Penn State storm that started to brew yesterday following the Express-Times report on Board of Trustees' anger with Rodney Erickson's handling of the sanctions ultimately ended how we thought it would; much ado about nothing. Or, rather, much ado about something, just not something they were willing to get involved in.
At first the issue seemed to solid. The Board requires the school president to get his major moves, you know, like accepting NCAA sanctions that will hobble the football team, approved. As we saw Monday, Erickson did no such thing when he decided to settle with the NCAA, arriving at the vacated wins, postseason ban, scholarship reductions and fines as the answer to their cover-up problem. Onward State reported that several Board members, including Anthony Lubrano and former player Adam Taliaffero, questioned whether Erickson violated Standing Order IV:
According to provision 2-e of Standing Order IV, the following actions must be approved by the Board: Authorization to borrow money; authorization of persons to sign checks, contracts, legal documents, and other obligations, and to endorse, sell or assign securities.
It would appear he most certainly did. The Board, with that in hand, had the power to make something happen. It seemed, even if just for a second, that they were looking to take the fight to the NCAA, through their own president.
Should the board have challenged Erickson and/or the NCAA ruling?
Maybe they would combat the notion that the NCAA should not have absolute power to go off protocol and hand down penalties without their own investigation and findings. Maybe they would combat the very idea that the NCAA could even truly rule in a case that did not directly involve extra benefits, competition and/or eligibility. Maybe, just maybe, they were gearing up to fight the piling on by the NCAA, an organization that just took credit for a no-brainer win.
However, that would not be the case. Once Erickson let them know about the four-year death penalty that the NCAA threatened him with, if he didn't submit to their will, ESPN reported; the Board of Trustees fell in line.
Just like Erickson did just days before them.
It isn't worth it to them to stand up and fight it. The school cannot afford the public relations hit. When the NCAA threatens with a terrifying "either or" all the school can do is crumble to their knees and accept their fate. Even with a case they could have won going forward, the fight against the NCAA would take this terrible situation to a new disastrous level from a general public standpoint. The rage that exists would be turned up higher.
No, Penn State couldn't fight this and thus, that last real hope at fighting died as the Board opted for the path of least resistance. You can't exactly blame them; the NCAA showed their stones and dared Penn State to cross them. Cowering in their wake was what the public and the media wanted out of Penn State; and they kowtowed. It was the easiest thing to do.