NCAA Justifiably Hammers Penn State, A Soulless College Football Program [Penn State Scandal]
Today the punishment for the Penn State football player came down by the hammer of the NCAA. Penn State avoided the death penalty, having football suspended for a year, but probably got a penalty that made them wish they were dead. They are now the equivalent of the man who starved to near death in the movie Seven. The NCAA answered questions on whether the issue fell under their jurisdiction and just how far they could take punishments after swearing they would never use the death penalty again. The punishment to the football team is the most painful thing that could’ve happened to a program that sold its soul for gridiron glory.
At 9 am EDT the NCAA announced the penalties. Penn State was fined $60 million that could not be taken from academics or minority sports; Penn State somehow has to make up the money. They are banned from postseason play for four years. This means they can’t win a national title or a conference title for four years. Penn State can only sign 15 players a year, normally a team can sign 25, and they can only have a max of 65 scholarship players on the roster. All wins since 1998 have been vacated meaning Paterno is no longer the winningest coach in Division 1 football. He is now 8th with 298 wins, a decrease of 111 wins. Penn State is now on probation for five years. Players can transfer out of the team without penalty and all current players can stop playing and continue getting their scholarship.
The Big Ten has further punished Penn State by fining the school $13 million and holding bowl revenues for the four-year bowl ban. All the fines collected by the NCAA and Big Ten will be sent to help stop child violence.
The immediate impact is that Penn State will probably suck this year. Younger players will transfer because they can’t get to postseason and their senior years will be the worst. They will have no real depth for 6 years now. Elite players won’t go without the promise of postseason. Instead of just taking the suspension for a year the team now has to endure around 8 seasons of bad football.
In the past I have been critical of the NCAA and their punishments. I felt that USC got shafted for the Reggie Bush case and thought that it was truly unfair. There have been many other punishments, rules, and actions by the NCAA throughout its history that have been unfair. The punishment to Penn State may be the first one that feels appropriate. (I don’t think scholarships should have been cut but the season should have been suspended and have no home games the next year)
Do not be mistaken however that this is simply because crimes were committed by Sandusky. These punishments are due to a cover-up from the highest ups at Penn State to protect football. They acted without ethics and were only concerned about bad publicity, wins for Paterno, and continuing the grand experiment. The grand experiment is the ideal that Penn State represented themselves as elite athletics and elite academics working harmoniously side by side. As the last decade has shown, they were anything but.
In one interpretation of the wording in Lack Of Institutional Control, Penn State fits because people didn’t do their jobs, were afraid to speak up, and proper steps weren’t taken to prevent things such as protecting a serial rapist and allowing him to continue using facilities that he raped boys in. Most importantly, this is the textbook case of the tail wagging the dog. The President and Vice President deferred to the head coach of the football program on how to handle punishments. Paterno continually complained to the staff at the school that he couldn’t handle all disciplinary issues internally without the school getting involved. Paterno and the football team were bigger than the University itself.
Can the NCAA continually pull out punishments with a lack of due discipline? Well, according to NCAA President Mark Emmert the Freeh report was better than anything the NCAA does. (I don’t know why someone would say that the work their company does sucks in comparison to somebody else’s, but that’s just me) I don’t necessarily buy in to slippery slope arguments but the NCAA appears so intellectually limited that I am a little worried. However, as the president said extreme cases call for some extreme measures. The NCAA has received positive reviews so far from anyone not related to Penn State football. The allowance of players to leave without punishment is key as current players are now able to leave and not be punished by the mistakes of others. The NCAA is targeting the school and program that was complicit in the cover-up, the individuals and their roles will be investigated by the DOJ and DOE.
There was a clear, systematic cover-up of serial child raping because the rapist was a former football coach and because it would bring bad press to the school. The cover-up occurred so that Paterno could seamlessly continue his quest for college football immortality by winning more games than anyone else. The cover-up worked because the school listened to the football coach and everyone was too scared to step up and do anything. The school lost all sight of itself and let the athletic department, and more specifically the football program rule the school, and the school put all their eggs in the Paterno and football basket.
The Board of Trustees finally apologized earlier this month for it happening. To my knowledge, no one else has apologized for what happened. The school and fans are self-pitying and crying, “Oh woes me.” The school and Penn State nation lost itself on Saturday evenings in all their white-out frenzies while jumping to “zombie nation.” Hell, students rioted when a person who committed felonies in order to hel Sandusky got fired.
The Penn State scandal was punished over the cover up but at its core was about football, much like the Civil War was fought to preserve the union and economics but at its core was over slavery. The penalty that the NCAA gave Penn State hurts Penn State where it matters most, on the football field. Penn State sold its soul for football and now with these penalties people associated with the school still consider it unfair. Penn State may have avoided having their season suspended, but they are still in deep. The Penn State nation may have avoided the NCAA’s version of death, but when they have no soul because of football and now bad football as a result, they probably feel dead already.