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Christopher Grilly

Regarding the Penn St. penalty situation (skip to the bottom for the TLDR conclusion edition) ...

The NCAA missed an opportunity to more clearly send a message that would be heard by other member schools, and quite possibly has only confirmed that further cases of "lack of institutional control" will only be more careful in covering their paper trails should scandals be uncovered.  In addition, the NCAA set a new precedent in using commissioner-like powers in meting a punishment rather than established channels that promises to have ramifications for years to come for all collegiate sports.

For those that have been living under a rock, here are the punishments.

1) 5 years probation.  4 year bowl-ban.
2) $60M fine by the NCAA.  $13M ban by the Big Ten Conference.
3) Scholarship reductions of 10 immediate and 20 each year for 4 years.  The program will be back at full strength in 2020.
4) Vacation of wins from 1998-present.

Reactions range from "too tough - Penn St. would have been better served by having their program shut down for 2 years" to "too lenient - they should have been shut down for X years, where is is a loose variable meaning one to 100.  I am of the mind that the punishment itself is too harsh, but not for the reasons most often cited. (e.g. Paterno is already dead & the other culprits are charged / disgraced / in jail, or punishing the NCAA is always behind by punishing the classes following the ones that committed the infractions, etc).

In the most egregious example of NCAA punishment that approaches the magnitude of Penn St.'s, SMU's football program was given a one year death penalty in 1987 which the school voluntarily extended an extra year, as well as scholarship reductions.  Currently, SMU football is less than a noontime shadow on the first of summer at the Equator of itself.  And for what?  For paying players to play football.  That's it.  The obvious next point is that if SMU got a 2 year ban for paying players, then surely PSU got off easy given the nature of the cover-up.  True, but the NCAA has made it clear in the past that they went too far with the SMU penalty. If that is the case, then is the NCAA implying that child abuse is a less serious crime than paying players was 25 years ago?  Because no punishment could be worse than shuttering a program's doors, right?

Except in this case, the punishment handed down by the NCAA may be worse than SMU's.  The football program is effectively neutered for eight years, and one can only think that the current players will have to look out for themselves and transfer, effectively gutting the current program.  The legal system is taking care of the crimes, and the University is overhauling its Board of Trustees.  The statue outside the stadium is down.  Nearly any punishment on top of that is going to be punitive, so we have to examine what the NCAA hopes to gain from such a punishment.

Clearly, the NCAA wishes to deter a similar situation from arising in other member schools.  The message is clear - covering up criminal activities by high-ranking officials will lead us to gutting your program with "not a death penalty but something like assisted suicide", to paraphrase FakeESPN.  And yet, I can't help but draw a parallel to a real-world example.  The actual death penalty does not deter criminals from committing heinous crimes for which they are put to death.  Extending the analogy - SMU's death penalty did not deter other NCAA member institutions from paying recruits, nor did the death penalty imposed on Kentucky's basketball program deter players from actual crimes like point-shaving.  Nor will Penn St.'s punishment deter other colleges from covering up scandals.  In fact, it may very likely lead to them being more cognizant of the repercussions should a leak occur.  It will lead to a bunker mentality, a cocooning of information, knowledge and power that will prove to be more difficult to crack now that the punishment for PSU has been revealed.  This is not new behavior, and it didn't have to come to this.

The NCAA missed an opportunity to get its other member schools to open up about cover-ups that may or may not be taking (or have taken) place at their school.  By taking the expected, draconian route, the NCAA simply fulfilled the role it accepted when it expedited the judgement process beginning in November.  However, the NCAA could had taken the opportunity to offer a radical solution.

CONCLUSION:   Offer amnesty to any member school that divulged information regarding coverups, crimes (any, including sexual abuse), or "lack of institutional control".  

The punishment will be ineffective in preventing new situations such as the Penn St. fiasco from arising.  The NCAA should have allowed Penn St. to evolve its own punishment and accept it as per prior precedent.

PS: The NCAA has now more clearly stepped down the path of being a fully-regulated professional enterprise, and this is a good thing.  The power exercised by the NCAA president is unprecedented, and the member board was complicit and unanimous.  Penn St. had no choice but to accept the punishment at face value, despite not receiving due process.  Years from now we will see this case as the beginning of the end of the NCAA as we know it.  I say its a good thing because the state where the NCAA exists (players not paid commensurate with the revenue brought it, rules by fiat and a lack of transparency on the rulebook) is untenable.


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Course #2 (though it starts prior to course #1).  Been a long time since I've read the older works, and back then I did not read them ciritically.  I'll also be able to fill a hole in my background by finally reading an Ursula K Le Guin book.
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Gonna give online courses a whirl, this seems like a decent place to start.
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I've just completed a rather tense negotiation with the insurance company regarding the totaled Prius.  Had they been reasonable from the beginning, they probably would have saved ~$1250 from the final agreed value.  Instead, they ended up giving me almost a thousand more than I asked at the beginning.  A quick recap of the sordid tale.

1) Devon gets T'd by an idiot
2) Insurance takes their sweet time sending an adjustor.  Totaling is recommended, but not communicated until after the weekend and sent via snail mail (this is important)
3) The same letter that said our car was totaled also said that we had 4 days from the date of the letter to move the vehicle from the garage it was towed to else its on my dime.  This letter was stamped four days from the letter date.  I'm sure you can do the math.
4) Livid at this point, I file a BBB complaint, hoping to speed up the process.  
5) I get a phone call advising of a value ~70% of what I felt was fair market value based on my own research.  I get madder.
6) I pull teeth and get our rental car extended 3 days, and the garaging of the vehicle 3 days in a contentious phone call with another person at the Insurance company.
7) I objected to the original report and send local kbb and edmunds vehicle links as comparables.  Adjuster comes back with new #, increasing the baseline condition of the vehicle.  Still only 75% FMV.  I ask for both reports.  I thought it would take the weekend to pore through them, but they're not as information dense as you might think.  
8) I object to the use of the model of car used as comparables (not the same model as ours) in the report.  Also, the comparables were adjusted to a baseline that was not our vehicle.
8A) I respond to the second report, using information they provided, with a $600 increase in my request for compensation.
9) Next report sent used 2009 vehicles (ours was a 2008) as comparables and still had the baseline error.  At this point I requested Carfax reports for the vehicles used as comparables.  I believe it was this point that kicked the process into overdrive.
10) Obviously flustered, the adjuster asked me for (and I'm paraphrasing) 'An official report where I'm getting my numbers from'.  I reply that I'd already provided the information asked for, and resupply the links to which I found the information.
11)  I receive an offer where they value it at "clean retail".  I accept, as it is $875 above my first offer and $250 above my second.

Also, my garage ripped the insurance co and the insurance company is now storing the vehicle through Thursday.  So for those of you keeping track at home ...

1) 10 extra rental car days.@ $30 / day
2) 9 extra storage days @ (unknown, $25 a day?)
3) $875 above my first offer 
4) 3 extra reports, extra man-hours associated with extra reports and BBB complaint ($50 per report, call it 3 extra reports at $50/hr salary)
Their cost of doing business is $1750.  This seems low, considering the first offer was ~$6000 less than the final offer. But a win is a win!
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And ... I'm done with football.

It shouldn't have taken the death of Junior Seau for me to fully realize the impact of head trauma in a more than "oh, that's tragic, I hope the research allows these guys to continue doing what they love but in a safer manner". While Seau's death hasn't been confirmed as CTE ( his story and choice of ending is consistent with it.

Intellectually I was fine with these men (hockey and football players alike) cognizant of the risks and getting into the action anyway. Live fast, star shining bright and hot but short etc blah blah blah. Until today.

Seau's death has left me considerably more uneasy than the sum of the rest related to the brain damage caused by CTE. I'm certain this is because I've been to Seau's restaurant and seen first-hand how the citizens of San Diego adored the man.

Malcolm Gladwell, who in the past has compared football to dogfighting ( is scheduled to debate the banning of college football on May 8, and now he sadly has greater ammunition today than yesterday.

So I'm done. This has been quite a strange trip over the past 20 years, from seeing the '92 Redskins (one of the greatest of all-time) win the Super Bowl, to a ton of middling years, to giving up on the Redskins a few years ago to this. It's been fun, but its not for me anymore.
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