Penn State could have faced four-year death penalty

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If Penn State had not accepted the package of NCAA sanctions announced Monday, the Nittany Lions faced a historic death penalty of four years, university president Rodney Erickson told ESPN’s Outside the Lines on Wednesday afternoon.

In a separate interview, NCAA president Mark Emmert confirmed that a core group of NCAA school presidents had agreed early last week that an appropriate punishment was no Penn State football for four years.

Emmert told Erickson in a phone conversation on July 17 that a majority of the NCAA’s leadership wanted to levy the four-year penalty.

“Well, that’s a pretty tough number to swallow,” Erickson said he recalled thinking when told of the four-year possibility by Emmert. “It’s unprecedented. It’s a blow to the gut; there’s no doubt about that … I couldn’t agree to that at all.”

• Penn State coach Bill O’Brien’s contract automatically was extended four years through 2020 when the NCAA handed down unprecedented sanctions against the embattled football program.

A clause in the contract, obtained Wednesday by ESPN.com, was triggered when Penn State received its four-year bowl ban as part of the sanctions announced Monday.

• Illinois spokesman Kent Brown confirmed that a group of assistant coaches traveled to State College on Wednesday to talk to some Nittany Lions players, who can transfer without sitting out a year. Brown said Illini athletic director Mike Thomas informed Penn State of the trip and that it came after Nittany Lions players contacted the Illini.

LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY: If the 2012 season plays out as Les Miles envisions, the Tigers will look much like the team that fell one victory short of a national title last season.

Even as Miles looks forward to a more potent passing game with new starting quarterback Zach Mettenberger, a former Georgia player, he still expects LSU to be defined largely by its dominant defense and deep, powerful running game.

“I hope things don’t change too much,” Miles said.

TENNESSEE: Quarterback Tyler Bray is mentioned in police incident reports about two car vandalisms at a Knoxville apartment complex.

Knoxville Police Department spokesman Darrell DeBusk said Wednesday afternoon that no charges will be filed on the initial incident after Bray, 20, offered to pay Bradi Hudson, the first victim, for damages to her car.


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