The Penn State Scandal
Assistant Director, Internal Affairs
The NCAA has finally flexed its muscle in the ongoing Penn State football scandal. The sanctions come in the wake of the Freeh Report, an essentially all-encompassing report that examined the true nature of former head coach Joe Paterno and the Penn State administration in the cover-up of Jerry Sandusky’s child abuses. The penalties include a payment over five years of $60 million (about the yearly revenue earnings of the Nittany Lion’s football program), forced vacation of all program wins from 1999 to 2011 (111 wins over 13 years), a four-year bowl ban, and significant scholarship reductions.
These penalties have been received with mixed emotions across the world of college football.
Some have claimed that the NCAA overstepped its bounds, as it is the National College Athletics Association, not a criminal prosecution organization. However, when one considers the reasons behind Paterno and his other partners’ motives for covering up the scandal, it becomes apparent that the coverup was only about football. The rest of the sanctions provide an interesting interpretation of the scandal.
The $60 million fine will certainly come from revenue areas of the University other than the guilty football program, taking money away from truly innocent students who are aiming to further their education. The four year bowl ban and reduction of scholarships can be lumped into the same category, as it affects recruiting most heavily. The pair of punishments will affect future students who were never even associated with the University when Sandusky’s atrocious acts were committed and they should not be punished for crimes they had no part in. The rest of the University should not have to pay the price for acts it as a whole was not complicit in. The NCAA has certainly avoided the death penalty by a wide margin, but the University may have been so seriously maimed by the leveed penalties that it bleeds to death.
There certainly was a need for sanctions against Penn State, as the coverup was stimulated solely by football, but to affect the future innocents attending the University in this way when the guilty parties get away with only having to vacate wins is a clumsy way to address the problem. All aspects of the penalties considered, perhaps there was no better way to ensure the proper penance for the actions. “Harsh” seems to be the most widely used word to describe the punishments the NCAA has handed down, but for a crime that was accurately described as heinous, I deem it appropriate.