Mark Emmert said the NCAA's announcement Tuesday to ease scholarship restrictions on Penn State had nothing to do with public relations, and maybe he's right.
But his unilateral decision 14 months ago to wallop Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal had everything to do with public relations.
Even though Sandusky was in jail, Joe Paterno was dead and three high-ranking officials no longer worked for the university in July 2012, Emmert tried to pole-ax the Penn State football program with unprecedented sanctions.
Emmert felt compelled to do something to Penn State because of a tidal wave of public pressure, and he overstepped his bounds in a big way. He got himself and his controversial organization involved in a case that belonged in the hands of criminal and/or civil courts, not his nor the NCAA's.
The NCAA's announcement Tuesday was an admission by Emmert that he went too far last year.
The sanctions didn't punish a pedophile or the former administrators who didn't do enough to stop him. They punished Coach Bill O'Brien, his staff, their players and high school players who wanted to play for Penn State but who weren't offered scholarships because of the restrictions.
The restoration of the scholarships came on the recommendation of former Sen. George Mitchell, the independent Penn State monitor who said he's been impressed by the diligence of school officials.
"Providing relief from the scholarship restrictions will give more student-athletes an opportunity to attend Penn State," Mitchell said.
Matt McGloin, the quarterback on Penn State's indefatigable 2012 team, was thrilled when he woke up this morning to hear the news.
"As much as people said, 'don't worry, we're going to get everything back,'" McGloin said, "I thought that it was never going to happen, that they (NCAA officials) were just going to let us serve it out. I never saw this coming."
The NCAA, in effect, took two years off the scholarship restrictions. It reinstated five scholarships for the current recruiting class, giving Penn State 20. The Nittany Lions can award 25 scholarships for the 2015-16 academic year and will have its full complement of 85 for the 2016-17 academic year.
"The difficult part (with recruiting) came with the numbers," O'Brien said. "For instance, you could only take one guy at a certain position, say a tackle. That was difficult.
"We've felt from the day we walked in here, once we've been able to get a young man and his parents on campus, the place sold itself. Recruiting the individual athlete, that was never difficult here."
For now, the other sanctions will remain in effect: the $60 million fine that will go toward preventing child sexual abuse and assisting child abuse victims; the four-year postseason ban; and the vacating of 111 of Paterno's wins.
"Additional mitigation may be considered in the future," the NCAA statement read, "depending upon Penn State's continued progress."
Don't be surprised if the four-year postseason ban is cut to two years. As for Paterno's wins, McGloin said he wants to see them restored.
"It'll happen," McGloin said. "I'm more of a believer today. I was part of those games, those very special games, (Paterno wins No.) 400 and 409. It's not only important to me, but it's important to all the alumni. It's important to everybody. I know how I feel. I know how they feel.
"Let him get his wins back. He deserves it."
McGloin said O'Brien deserves special recognition for keeping the Penn State program winning in the face of such difficult circumstances.
"I feel so happy for Coach O'Brien," McGloin said. "He deserves it after what he's done. He's done the impossible. He's done what wasn't supposed to be done. He's a great coach an even better person. My hat's off to him."