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NCAA President Mark Emmert Won't Rule Out The Death Penalty For Penn State

I know you guys are probably as sick of reading about the Penn State scandal as we are writing about it, but NCAA President Mark Emmert has weighed in on things since the Freeh Report came out, and if he's willing to actually say this stuff in a public interview, I personally think Penn State's now staring the Death Penalty in the face.

I'm not saying I agree with it. I am saying it's a real possibility now.

In an interview with BET founder Tavis Smiley on PBS, Emmert not only fired a shot across Penn State's bow, he might have put a couple torpedoes in the water, and they're heading straight at the Penn State broadside.

I know there has been a cacophany of opinions on whether or not Penn State should get the Death Penalty, whether or not the Paterno statue should come down, and whether or not the NCAA even has jurisdiction in a situation as unique as this. Some of the money quotes that would have me quaking in my boots if I was a fan of Penn State that thought the Death Penalty wasn't an option:

I’ve never seen anything as egregious as this in terms of overall conduct and behavior inside of a university. I hope never to see it again. What the appropriate penalties are, if there are determinations of violations, we’ll have to decide.
There have been people who’ve said this wasn’t a football scandal. Well, it was more than a football scandal. Much more than a football scandal. I don’t know that past precedent makes particularly good sense in this case because it’s really an unprecedented problem.

But when Smiley asked Emmert whether or not the NCAA would be willing to come down on PSU with the Death Penalty in light of how it affected SMU, Emmert said:

I don't want to pre-judge where we're going to wind up with penalties, but right now is a special moment in the history of the NCAA. There's an enormous amount of political courage, if you will, to do the right thing on a variety of cases, as we've been demonstrating that again and again in recent months.

Maybe I'm reading too much into this, but I think this is a potential game changer in terms of what the NCAA might or might not do.

I'll explain why, after the jump.

The calls for Penn State to get the death penalty have come from every corner of the Internet, from Rick Reilly, Sally Jenkins, Dan Wetzel, Dennis Dodd, the list is just about endless.

There have also been a fair amount of folks that are against the death penalty, like Gregg Doyel and James Carville, of all people.

But one name you won't find on this list, expressing an opinion either way, is NCAA president Mark Emmert. That changed last night, and it's important to note that it's not the first time he sent a message, literally and figuratively, to Penn State.

This whole argument about whether or not the NCAA Should even get involved began, for the most part, after Emmert sent a letter to Penn State in November saying he was notifying them that the NCAA would investigate to examine Penn State's 'exercise of institutional control over the athletics program', so I guess it's not like we shouldn't have seen this escalation coming.

But escalate it has.

Maybe I'm over reacting to this, but I think this is a big development. Emmert didn't telegraph either way what he thinks the punishment might be, if any, but I do think he pretty much destroyed the argument of the anti-NCAA intervention crowd that the Association wouldn't, or shouldn't, get involved. At least in the eyes of the NCAA.

And in this case, that's really the only opinion that matters.