Senior Columnist

NCAA official: 'Heart goes out' to Penn Staters devastated by penalites

DENVER -- The NCAA executive committee chairman who helped craft the Penn State penalties told "my heart really goes out" to the school's students, faculty and alumni who might feel like a “drive-by victim” in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

Oregon State president Ed Ray added, “I understand what they're dealing with, and if somehow we could make it not so, I would certainly wish we could.”

Ray is the chairman of the the 17-person NCAA body that "implements policies to resolve core issues." The NCAA explained its authority to act in the Penn State case here. Ray was the only person to appear at the podium with NCAA president Mark Emmert at the July press conference to announce the Penn State penalties.

Four months later, he has witnessed some of the anguish caused by those penalties. While not exactly expressing remorse, Ray's is the most emotional reaction by a person directly responsible for those historic penalties.

“Given what we were presented with where we ended up, it was a perfectly fine place to end up. …,” Ray said of the decision. “I know what it means if you've been somewhere 20 or 30 years and you love the institution and you've given your all and suddenly you feel like a drive-by victim. You're humiliated because something is all over the media and you didn't do anything.”

Penn State was given a four-year bowl ban, docked 40 scholarships and fined $60 million for its oversight in the Sandusky matter.

“And I think about the victims,” Ray added. “I've heard too little about the victims. God knows what their lives are like and how they've been damaged by that absolute horror. It's just all very, very very sad and it's not over.”

Ray reiterated Emmert's assertion that it would have taken more than a year to investigate Penn State by traditional methods. Emmert acted with authority from the executive committee and the board because of what was termed an unprecedented ethical breach.

“When things go wrong, there's no way to protect innocent people from getting hurt,” Ray said. “There is no way we could have come to any kind of agreement that didn't imply that people were going to get hurt by this.

“When people do bad things, they hurt not only their victims, they hurt all their loved ones, all these people who are invested in them at the same time. It [a formal investigation] would have been two years of sorting it all out. I don't know if we would have ended up in a different place. We might have.”

Ray was interviewed by before appearing at Monday's BCS meeting in Denver as a member of the Presidential Oversight Committee. Penn State is currently 6-4 in the first year of its four-year bowl ban.

Anyone in need of a credential from all the BCS title games? Dennis Dodd has them. In three decades in the business, he's covered everything from the Olympics to Stanley Cup to conference realignment. Just get him on campus in a press box in the fall. His heart lies with college football.
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