Sanctions against Penn State causes 'issues' with ADs
HUNTINGTON - Marshall Athletic Director Mike Hamrick is sure he's never seen anything like the sanctions handed down to Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
What he's not sure of how those sanctions - and how the NCAA delivered them - will affect the future of college athletics. But he knows they will.
"It's going to get really interesting," Hamrick said. "There was something that happened (Monday) that was unprecedented. How we move forward and how we deal with it in future is yet to be seen."
The NCAA leveled devastating penalties against Penn State - $60 million in fines, deep scholarship reductions, a four-year postseason ban and the vacation of wins from 1998 to 2011.
The association also discarded much of its usual process in getting to the penalty phase.
The NCAA normally conducts its own investigations, which can take months, and gives universities their day before the association's Committee on Infractions.
This time? No committee, and no investigation. The NCAA used the PSU-sanctioned Freeh Report and announced its penalties just days after its release. In his remarks Monday, NCAA President Mark Emmert said Penn State needed to change the culture of its athletic program and that no school should lose sight of why it participates in athletics in the first place.
"Now the NCAA can come in and punish a university for the culture of its athletic program," Hamrick said. "Am I against that personally? No, absolutely not. Does that create some issues for you as an AD trying to manage program? Yes, it does. It's something new.
"When I watched it (Monday) morning, I thought it was the commissioner of NFL standing there," he added. "Do I think that's wrong? No. I think what happened today is something that's going to change the governance structure of the NCAA as to how they now deal with institutions."
Hamrick is taking a wait-and-see approach with the way the NCAA handed down these penalties. Emmert said Monday this doesn't "open a Pandora's box" when it comes to future cases and that the unique circumstances of the scandal called for a unique action. Others, like former acting Big 12 Commissioner Chuck Neinas, disagree.
Could the NCAA return to this format, bypassing a Committee on Infractions hearing and its own investigation, now that it's done so with Penn State?
"I don't think anyone can answer that question," he said.
As he watched the press conference Monday, Hamrick said his thoughts went to Sandusky's victims whose lives were forever changed by acts he called "horrific." He also thought of the Penn State football players, who now inhabit a program much different than the one for which they signed up to play. These players can choose to transfer - and the NCAA is relaxing some of its rules to allow them to transfer and play immediately - but Hamrick doesn't think it will be an easy choice.
He knows it wouldn't be for him.
"I kept thinking what it would be like if I was in a similar situation when I was a junior at Marshall," said Hamrick, who played defensive end and linebacker for the Thundering Herd from 1976-80. "I had a girlfriend who's now my wife. I liked my professors. I liked my course of study. My parents could come see me play easily. My brother and I played together. What if he had to go to one school and I had to go to another?
"All I heard (Monday) was about what's best for the student-athlete," he continued. "I hope the kids at Penn State all come out in the end in a good way."
Hamrick feels other administrators will learn from the Penn State situation and that the NCAA sent a loud, clear message that cultures like the one allowed to fester in State College will not be tolerated.
Hamrick said it wouldn't happen in Huntington.
"What I've always tried to do in our athletic department is have transparency," he said. "We don't hide anything. With our program, there's no one too big at Marshall University to where what happened at Penn State can happen at Marshall University."
Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at email@example.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall.