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NCAA Sanctions May Violate Civil Rights

There has been an ongoing battle between Penn State and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The school’s football team has been paying for mistakes made by top-level executives of the program for the past two years. After former coach Jerry Sandusky’s sexual abuse conviction, an official investigation, led by Louis J. Freeh and commissioned by the university, found that the school’s staff and team officials did not do enough to investigate allegations of abuse or bring Sandusky to justice.

Following that report, Penn State was hit with harsh sanctions from the NCAA in 2012 – a $60 million fine, the loss of a substantial number of football scholarships, a four-year postseason ban and an injunction to vacate all victories for the team from 1998 to 2011, which bumped former coach Joe Paterno from the top of the career wins list for college football.

The sanctions generated a great deal of controversy from former players, fans and current students who said that the NCAA went too far in punishing the school , noting that the extent of the scandal made it more appropriate for the criminal justice system to handle the consequences. Now, civil rights attorneys in State College say that the NCAA‘s decision, especially in light of recent discoveries, may have overstepped its bounds and violated the college’s civil rights.

Sanctions Were “Bluffing”

Pennsylvania State Senator Jake Corman filed a lawsuit against the NCAA over where the proceeds of the fine will be distributed. In the course of that lawsuit, several incriminating emails between NCAA officials were released to the public that seem to indicate that the organization was unsure how much authority it had in censuring the school for the Sandusky scandal. In one email, an official claimed to have said to Mark Emmert, the NCAA‘s president, that the sanctions were a “bluff,” and he agreed.

Just as the NCAA acted in violation of an institution’s civil rights, so too can persons in authority act in a manner that violates another individual’s civil rights as afforded by the U.S. Constitution. These rights include fair trials and punishments that fit the crime. In this case, the heavy sanctions were outside the norms upheld by the NCAA. In a statement, representatives for Penn State said: “We find it deeply disturbing that NCAA officials in leadership positions would consider bluffing one of their member institutions, Penn State, to accept sanctions outside of their normal investigative and enforcement process.”

On a larger scale, the NCAA/Penn State controversy highlights the problem that many people have when their rights are violated. Clearly, an organization or person with a position of authority has acted in a lawless manner, disregarding the statutes of the state and country in failing to “uphold” the law. When this happens, the entire system is in jeopardy.

At Rehmeyer & Allatt Attorneys at Law, we represent anyone-or any institution-who has been victimized in violation of their rights. For a free, no-strings consultation, contact one of our civil rightsattorneys today.