When it comes to handing out sanctions and penalties, the ones who commit the crimes rarely feels the ramifications of their actions. Where in most cases, the ones that get left holding the bag are the ones that are left behind. In this case, everybody associated with Penn State University’s past, present and future will feel the pain of the NCAA’s decision.
At the crack of dawn on Sunday, Penn State officials ordered workers to take down the statue of Joe Paterno that once stood outside Beaver Stadium. Thirty hours later, NCAA President Mark Emmert stepped to the podium at the organization’s headquarters and announced sanctions levied against the PSU football program as a result of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal. The school was fined $60 million. They are banned from post season participation for four seasons and will lose 40 scholarships over that period. And, all victories from 1998 will be vacated from the record books.
By agreeing to these terms, PSU was spared the “Death Penalty”. They will be able to play their regular season schedule. That will limit the loss of revenue to the surrounding businesses that depend on 110,000 die hards descending upon Happy Valley seven to eight times a year.
There are some who feel that the NCAA overstepped their bounds and some who are of the opinion that they did not do enough. Therefore, the compromise might indicate that the NCAA got it right. You might be of the opinion that the organization should not have been involved in this matter in the first place, That might have been the case if the powers that be at PSU would have initially turned this problem over to the proper authorities without the football program asserting its self-serving interests and engaging in an obvious cover-up.
There in lies the problem here. As hideous as Sandusky’s actions were, the cover up was even worse. Several young men could have been spared the indignity of Sandusky’s vile acts. Former University President Graham Spanier and Athletic Director Tim Curley, who could have nipped this in the bud as far back as 1998, will have their day in court and God help them there. Paterno died in January and unfortunately we will never truly hear his side of the story.
Back in November, Paterno’s reputation was beyond reproach. As a result of the Louis Freeh investigation and the Sandusky trail, Paterno’s patron saint aura was dimmed a bit. We should not ignore the good this man has accomplished over his tenure but we can not ignore his role in this cover up.
This stain follows the program as well as the institution. You can see the pain in the faces of those who can not believe that Paterno did not live up to virtues and values that he has preached over the years. But unfortunately this pales in comparison to pain suffered by Sandusky’s victims.
Current players, who want the chance to play for a National Title, will be able to transfer to any other school without sitting out the year. Some feel that they and new Head Coach Bill O’Brien are being punished for the Sins of their Fathers, and I agree with that to a certain degree. None of them had anything to do with or had knowledge of what took place. I thought that the NCAA should have cut the bowl ban down to two years so that current freshman and sophomores are giving an opportunity to play in the post season eventually. Their best player Sylus Redd is already considering transferring to USC and coaches all over the country are circling Happy Valley like vultures hoping to scoop up some of the PSU talent.
These sanctions will set the PSU program back at least a decade. Without those 40 scholarships and the ability to showcase the team on TV, it will be hard to maintain the level of talent that this program is accustomed to over the years. And to be honest with you, the talent level has already dropped off considerably since Paterno’s glory days. O’Brien has his work cut out for him.
In less than a year, a 60-year legacy was eclipsed by the despicable actions of one man and a lack of the proper actions of others. As much as this scandal has diminished all of PSU’s shine, we can’t ignore the good the school has generated over the years. Punish the guilty and help the victims but the NCAA should not have lowered the boom on those who had nothing to do with this.
In the past we have seen coaches bolt to other schools or the pros when they know sanctions are on the horizon. Same with players who were involved during their time on campus, they rarely feel ramifications, like Reggie Bush. This time the past, the present and the future have come full circle.