The NCAA’s Penn State Smackdown

by Ryan on July 23, 2012

in Crime,Culture,Sports

Coming on the heels of Penn State University’s removal of Joe Paterno’s statue from the front of its football stadium yesterday, the NCAA has issued Penn State’s punishment for the Sandusky scandal, which includes the following:

  1. a $60 million fine
  2. a four-year football bowl ban
  3. vacating all wins from Paterno’s record from 1998-2011
  4. reducing the number of scholarships down to 20 for four years

I understand and respect all of the punitive actions taken by the NCAA except for #3.  The point of these actions is to scare Penn State and every other program in the nation to behave.  It should work.  However, I do not think #3 is a fully appropriate action.

Sandusky’s first filed allegation of sexual misconduct came in 1998, so that year is relevant.  However, just because Paterno and crew participated in a mortifying cover-up doesn’t mean all current and former Penn State football players must be punished as well.  Were the students on the team complicit in the cover-up too?  If not, I don’t think they should be retroactively punished for something they had no knowledge of or control over.  Fire the entire program’s staff along with anyone with foreknowledge of the cover-up, compel detailed background checks moving forward, etc.

But if it’s true that only the top brass knew the cover-up was taking place, (while I’m definitely not equivocating) I don’t think making other young, innocent people victims by stripping their records is the best way for the NCAA to intimidate other programs into good behavior.  It doesn’t seem as relevant or as appropriate to me as the other sanctions.

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