The NCAA did not kill off completely Penn State’s football program, as was widely expected, but the sanctions for the child sexual abuse scandal and its coverup were pretty harsh:
NCAA President Mark Emmert made the announcement Monday morning that the program would be hit with a four-year postseason ban and a $60 million fine. He called the case “unprecedented.”
In addition, the school will be forced to cut 10 scholarships for this season and 20 scholarships for the following four years.
The move essentially bumps Penn State down to the scholarship levels of schools at the lower Football Championship Subdivision.
The school will be forced to vacate all wins from 1998-2011, a total of 112 victories, and serve five years of probation.
The loss of victories means Joe Paterno is no longer college football’s winningest coach. He was fired in November during the scandal after 409 wins at the school.
Because of the length of the punishment, all current Penn State players and incoming freshman will be free to transfer to another school without penalty.
Is this an example of completely justified outrage taking the place of justice? Normally, guilty individuals are punished, and surely those who knew about Coach Jerry Sandusky’s sex with little boys and did nothing about it need to be called to account. But the Penn State players, students, and alumni didn’t know what was going on. Why are they being punished? Or is there corporate guilt, in which every member of an institution has a share in its transgressions?
If part of the problem in the cover up was the cultural climate of football uber alles, the corporate guilt would extend far beyond Penn State, to big time football universities as a whole and to the NCAA itself.
Also, is the NCAA acting beyond its jurisdiction? Penn State did not violate any of the rules that the NCAA is supposed to enforce (such as recruiting violations, paying players, and the like). Isn’t child abuse a matter for the criminal justice system and civil courts to take care of, rather than a sports organization?
And what kind of punishment is it to forfeit 13 years worth of games that have already been played? It isn’t as if an ineligible player contributed to illicit victories that might otherwise be losses if it were not for the infraction. How does that punishment have to do with the crime?
Don’t get me wrong: I am repulsed by what happened at Penn State and want it addressed in the strongest possible way. I just don’t understand the NCAA action. What would be better?