Penn State president Rodney Erickson told ESPN's "Outside the Lines" on Wednesday that if the school had not accepted the sanctions from the NCAA, the organization would have imposed a four-year "death penalty." (via ESPN) NCAA president Mark Emmert also said that the NCAA had approved the penalty of not allowing Penn State to play football for four years early last week.
Erickson said about the proposed death penalty, "Well, that's a pretty tough number to swallow. It's unprecedented. It's a blow to the gut; there's no doubt about that ... I couldn't agree to that at all." After speaking with Emmert, Penn State tried to get the NCAA to remove the possibility of the death penalty from the possible sanctions the school faced. However, if Penn State did not agree to the sanctions they ultimately received, the Nittany Lions' football team would have been shut down for four years in addition to "other sanctions" and a larger financial penalty than the $60 million imposed by the NCAA.
Erickson does not agree with the recent talk that the sanctions imposed by the NCAA are worse than if the school had received the death penalty. "I think the death penalty would have been far, far worse for the program and the university over the long run," Erickson said.
Whether or not Erickson had the authority to consent to the sanctions without consulting Penn State's board of trustees first was on the agenda of a trustees meeting scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.