The National Collegiate Athletic Association released several documents Friday in an attempt to provide "important context" to emails recently made public during an ongoing court case that seemingly revealed that the NCAA doubted its authority to punish Pennsylvania State University over the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal. The emails, which critics have pounced on in last week, also appeared to show that the association threatened Penn State with the "death penalty" if they did not accept the consent decree, thus agreeing to several sanctions that included vacating years of Penn State wins, suspending the university from participating in postseason games, and fining the institution $60 million. The NCAA has since walked back some of those historic sanctions, including ending Penn State's postseason ban in September, two years earlier than what the sanction had called for.
"When taken out of context, some of this material creates a misleading impression of the important issues related to the consent decree between the NCAA and Penn State,” Erik Christianson, an NCAA spokesperson, said in a statement. “The NCAA believes the full story will emerge at the trial scheduled for January 2015.”
The NCAA also filed a motion Thursday in Pennsylvania state court urging the judge to decide that the consent decree was "not entered into under duress." The documents released Friday by the NCAA were mostly emails the association felt demonstrated that the decree between the NCAA and Penn State was a fair agreement reached by both sides in order to avoid a lengthy and unpredictable infraction process. "I had to weigh accepting this outcome versus what might come with a traditional infractions process in an opinion," Gene Marsh, Penn State's lawyer, wrote in an emial to the NCAA's David Berst. "I laid it all out and gave my opinion, but the call was not mine. I think they made the right choice." Penn State officials said last week that they found it "deeply disturbing that NCAA officials in leadership positions would consider bluffing one of their member institutions" into accepting sanctions outside of the normal infractions process.
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