The governor of Pennsylvania is suing the NCAA for its harsh punishment of Penn State, hitting the entire university because of Coach Jerry Sandusky’s molestation of children:
Pennsylvania’s governor, in a challenge to the NCAA’s powers, claimed in a lawsuit Wednesday that college sports’ governing body overstepped its authority and ”piled on” when it penalized Penn State over the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal.
Gov. Tom Corbett asked that a federal judge throw out the sanctions, which include an unprecedented $60 million fine and a four-year ban on bowl games, arguing that the measures have harmed students, business owners and others who had nothing to do with Sandusky’s crimes.
”A handful of top NCAA officials simply inserted themselves into an issue they had no authority to police under their own bylaws and one that was clearly being handled by the justice system,” Corbett said at a news conference.
The case, filed under federal antitrust law, could define just how far the NCAA’s authority extends. Up to now, the federal courts have allowed the organization broad powers to protect the integrity of college athletics.
In a statement, the NCAA said the lawsuit has no merit and called it an ”affront” to Sandusky’s victims.
Penn State said it had no role in the lawsuit. In fact, it agreed not to sue as part of the deal with the NCAA accepting the sanctions, which were imposed in July after an investigation found that football coach Joe Paterno and other top officials hushed up sexual-abuse allegations against Sandusky, a former member of Paterno’s staff, for more than a decade for fear of bad publicity.
The penalties include a cut in the number of football scholarships the university can award and a rewriting of the record books to erase 14 years of victories under Paterno, who was fired when the scandal broke in 2011 and died of lung cancer a short time later.
Here is an example of ascribing collective guilt. Sandusky is certainly guilty, as are other coaches and administrators who overlooked and covered up his crimes. But how far does that guilt extend? Does it make sense to punish the entire university? Does it make sense to void 14 years worth of victories, erasing them as if they never happened, even though none of the players who won those victories had any involvement in the scandal? Or is the crime of Sandusky tied to the culture of the school, to its very football tradition, to the attitudes of the students, alumni, administration, faculty, and staff so that the whole institution has a collective guilt?