The NCAA has handed down its punishment to Penn State University in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex scandal. ESPN reported earlier today that the following sanctions would be levied upon the University’s football program;
NCAA Sanctions Against Penn State
• $60 million fine
• Vacation of wins from 1998-2011 (112 wins)*
• Four-year postseason ban
• Four-year scholarship reduction (10 initial; 20 total)
• Players may transfer and play immediately at other schools
• Athletic department on probation for five years
* Joe Paterno record now 298-136-3; fifth on FBS all-time list
Who ARE they punishing?
I showed this to my wife and her first reaction was “Who are they punishing?” Great point; Sandusky is going to prison, Joe Paterno has passed away, and former President Graham Spanier, former Athletic Director Tim Curley, and former Senior VP Gary Schultz are no longer employed by Penn State.
The $60 million fine was calculated as equal to the average annual revenue of the football program and the NCAA ordered Penn State to pay the penalty funds into an endowment for “external programs preventing child sexual abuse or assisting victims and may not be used to fund such programs at the university.” As a result there will be benefactors on the side of the prevention and support of victims in child sexual abuse cases, and there will be losers with regard to those funds supporting football and other sports programs at Penn State.
Sandusky’s criminal actions and the subsequent cover up in no way affected on the football field the accumulation of 112 wins by all the coaches, players and support staff over the period from 1998-2011 against their opponents. The majority of these individuals did exactly what was expected of them; day after day, week after week, year after year. An attempt to posthumously punish Joe Paterno by the NCAA has also punished the efforts and accomplishments of many more not involved with Sandusky’s heinous act or the cowardly cover up.
The four-year postseason ban is a continuation of the ripple effect meant by the NCAA to punish the existing Penn State football program and its supporting elements. Those most harmed by this particular sanction are the current players and staff, as well other athletes that benefit from the infusion of bowl game revenues into the athletic department, though they will be allocated to programs within the Big 10 “to established charitable organizations in Big Ten communities dedicated to the protection of children.”
The four-year scholarship reduction, once again meant to cripple the football program’s ability to compete, punishes future student athletes brought to Penn State University through the sport of football. As a good friend of mine (a former college football coach) said, “It’s a zero-sum game, those scholarships don’t get diverted to other football programs.” These opportunities lost to potential scholar-athlete recipients in the future are imposed by a few twisted adults from the past.
Allowing current athletes under scholarship in Penn State’s football program to immediately transfer and participate at other schools is probably the single infliction upon the Nittnay Lions that is “friendly” to the blameless.
CYA for NCAA?
NCAA President Mark Emmert said, “As the individuals charged with governing college sports, we have a responsibility to act. These events should serve as a call to every single school and athletics department to take an honest look at its campus environment and eradicate the ‘sports are king’ mindset that can so dramatically cloud the judgment of educators.” But many, including myself, feel the NCAA has overstepped its authority in handing down this punishment in the substance and manner in which it did. It also assumes that others would act similarly as those involved with ignoring the situation by trying to send a so-called message to “every single school and athletics department”.
This was a criminal act and subsequent cover up which should fall under the laws and jurisdiction of the state of Pennsylvania. Even a former NCAA Infractions Chairman and current Div I Appeals Committee member says, “The purpose of the NCAA is to keep a level playing field among schools and to make sure they use proper methods through scholarships and et cetera. This is not a case that would normally go through the process. It has nothing to do with a level playing field. It has nothing to do with whether Penn State gets advantages over other schools in recruiting or in the number of coaches or things that we normally deal with.”
So what do you think? Has the NCAA overstepped its authority and rendered itself judge, jury, and executioner in attempt to “CYA” itself from further public contempt or legal action? Should an entire program and academic/athletic community be punished for the perverted actions of a single person and the cowardice of a few of his superiors? At what point will individuals start taking responsibility for their actions and stop spreading the blame in an attempt to divert their own culpability?
What are the real motives of the NCAA?