Penn State and collective guilt

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.

via Pa. governor sues NCAA over Penn State sanctions – Yahoo! Sports.

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?

HT:  Trey

Penn State’s punishment

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?

Sooners, the new 2004 National Champions

My alma mater, the University of Oklahoma, should ascend to the 2004 National Football championship, even though they were beaten in the BCS championship game by the University of Southern California.  That team is being forced to forfeit all of their games played by star running back Reggie Bush, due to the valuable  benefits that his coaches lavished on him.

The NCAA threw the book at storied Southern California yesterday with a 2-year bowl ban, 4 years’ probation, loss of scholarships and forfeits of an entire year’s games for improper benefits to Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush dating to the Trojans’ 2004 national championship.

USC was penalized for a lack of institutional control in the ruling by the NCAA following its 4-year investigation. The report cited numerous improper benefits for Bush and former basketball player O.J. Mayo, who spent just 1 year with the Trojans.

The coaches who presided over the alleged misdeeds – football's Pete Carroll and basketball’s Tim Floyd – left USC in the past year.

“I’m absolutely shocked and disappointed in the findings of the NCAA,” Carroll said in a video statement produced by the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks, who hired him in January. “I never thought it would come to this . . . I’m extremely disappointed that we have to deal with this right now.”

The penalties include the loss of 30 football scholarships over 3 years and vacating 14 victories in which Bush played from December 2004 through the 2005 season. USC beat Oklahoma in the BCS title game on Jan. 4, 2005, and won 12 games during Bush’s Heisman-winning 2005 season, which ended with a loss to Texas in the 2006 BCS title game.

Bill Hancock, the executive director of the BCS, said a committee will meet to consider vacating USC’s 2004 championship. While no action would go into effect until USC’s appeals are heard by the NCAA, Hancock said there would be no 2004 champion if USC’s victory is vacated.

The NCAA says Bush received lavish gifts from two fledgling sports marketers hoping to sign him. The men paid for everything from hotel stays and a rent-free home where Bush’s family apparently lived to a limousine and a new suit when he accepted his Heisman in New York in December 2005.

The rulings are a sharp repudiation of the Trojans’ decade of stunning football success under Carroll, who won seven straight Pac-10 titles and two national championships before abruptly returning to the NFL. Floyd resigned last June, shortly after he was accused of giving cash to a middleman who helped steer Mayo to USC.

via USC gets 2-year bowl ban, might forfeit 2004 title | Philadelphia Daily News | 06/11/2010.

Wait a minute:  The Trojans might not be stripped of their championship?  How can a team win the national title while losing all of their games?  The BCS might declare that there was no champion for 2004?  How can that be?  In the final BCS rankings, OU was #2.  If #1 is removed from the picture, everyone moves up.

In all seriousness, I dislike the penalty of forfeiting games that were already played.  If a team violates the rules, punish them now, but don’t try to change history.


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