NCAA assesses misdemeanors, delivers consequences

Jori Epstein

Head coach Charlie Strong isn’t the only one pushing suspensions and dismissals in an effort to clean up a football program. While Texas surveys a team down eight players since last season, coaches and officials around the country work to hold teams to high standards as well.

Sooners linebacker suspended

Within the Big 12, the Oklahoma Sooners suspended junior linebacker Frank Shannon for one year — a decision that reached beyond the school campus, receiving backing from the Oklahoma State Supreme Court. Shannon, the Sooners’ leading tackler in 2013, was first reported accused of sexual assault in April. Although a Cleveland County District Court decision ruled that Shannon could stay at school during the appeal process, the state’s highest court reversed the ruling Monday. As a consequence for violating OU’s Title IX sexual misconduct policy, the school suspended Shannon from both the team and the roster for the remainder of the 2014-2015 season.

USC AD and coach reprimanded 

Misconduct reaches beyond the level of players, too. Coaches and athletic directors must take responsibility for their actions, as USC athletic director Pat Haden learned in Saturday’s contest against Stanford. Haden approached the officiating crew during the third quarter of the game after coach Steve Sarkisian received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. For his disruption, Haden was reprimanded by the Pac-12 and fined $25,000.

“The conduct by [Haden] was inappropriate,” Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement. “The actions fell short of our expectations of our head coaches and athletic directors as role models for our student-athletes and important leaders of our institutions.”

In addition to the conference rebukes, Haden self-imposed a two-game sideline penalty and issued an apology.

Penn State regains playoff eligibility

Not to despair, at least one institution is rebounding from a history of misconduct.

Penn State regained its playoff eligibility for this season Monday and most of its scholarship privileges for next season. The school has worked to rebuild the trust of NCAA officials since 2012, when former coach Jerry Sandusky was convicted on 45 counts of sexual abuse of 10 boys, a felony that earned him 30-60 years in prison. NCAA officials believe the school is one step closer to clearance.

“Penn State has made remarkable progress over the past year,” said Harris Pastides, a member of the NCAA board of directors. “[This decision] allows the University and the association to continue to move toward a common goal of ensuring that educating, nurturing and protecting young people is a top priority.”

The Nittany Lions, who finished their two sanction seasons with 15 wins but no playoff eligibility, are 2-0 this season.