NCAA Gets PSU Sanctions Right, But For Wrong Reasons

Submitted by Ace on July 24th, 2012 at 3:32 PM

Leave it to the NCAA to get the Penn State sanctions right, yet still find a way to screw it up.

The debate surrounding the—wait for it—unprecedented penalties handed down to the PSU football program has largely hinged on whether or not the NCAA had any jurisdiction at all over this issue, one that at face value went so far beyond football that it seemed inappropriate and insensitive to make it a football issue.* Criminal matters should be handled by criminal courts, so what basis does the governing body of college sports have to essentially decimate PSU football?

Yesterday, Mark Emmert decided to justify his swift and forceful actions by indicting the very culture that funnels billions into the pockets on his organization:

"The fundamental message here, the gut-check message is, do we have the right balance in our culture?" he said. "Do we have, first and foremost, the academic values of integrity and honesty and responsibility as the drivers of our university? Or are we in a position where hero worship and winning at all costs has subordinated those core values?"

In doing so, Emmert opened up the NCAA to—very fair—criticism about the sheer hypocrisy of the above statement, and that criticism extends to the penalties themselves**. Slamming "hero worship" when the NCAA extravagantly profits from—to take one small example—NCAA Football video games that advertise "a deeper game for a deeper devotion," is remarkably tone-deaf. The NCAA doesn't make their money from "academic values", but from fanatics (it's called March Madness, for chrissakes) who sanctify figures like JoePa and Coach K and Woody and Bo and the athletes upon whose backs this empire is built. The NCAA asking us to suddenly find perspective is like TMZ chastising their readers for caring too much about the lives of people they don't actually know; it's a nice sentiment coming from precisely the wrong source.

What I find more remarkable, however, is that the NCAA had the proper basis to levy these sanctions sitting right in front of them, and instead they took the hypocrisy route. It's simple: Penn State gained a massive, long-term competitive advantage by keeping Sandusky's heinous crimes quiet.

Why did Joe Paterno, when confronted with clear-cut evidence of Sandusky's sexual abuse of Victim 2, decide against alerting the Department of Child Welfare? It wasn't to cover for a friend; it's been well-documented that Paterno and Sandusky weren't exactly close off the field. No, this was a football decision, one that kept up Paterno and Penn State's untarnished image while avoiding a scandal that—even if Paterno did the right thing and reported Sandusky—would bring an enormous amount of negative attention to the program and potentially threaten Paterno's job status.

In March of 2002, when Mike McQueary reported what he had seen in the Penn State locker room to Paterno, Penn State was coming off back-to-back five-win seasons. Paterno was 75 years old, reaching the point where questions abound about his ability to run a successful football program, if he could retire with dignity before PSU would be forced to push him out the door. I can't claim to know the motivation behind the cover-up, but the timing of the 2002 allegations could not have been worse for Paterno from a football perspective.

Instead of facing the situation head-on, Paterno and Penn State kept quiet, and Penn State's program turned around; from 2002-2011, the Nittany Lions went 83-43 with two shared conference titles and two BCS bowl appearances. I have a hard time imagining that Penn State would have compiled such a lofty record while dealing with sexual abuse charges against their former defensive coordinator. I'm guessing JoePa thought much the same.

When looking at the issue from that perspective, the NCAA had little choice but to bring the hammer down on a Penn State program that gained an enormous, decade-long competitive advantage by covering up crimes of a most despicable nature. The scope of the penalties, which almost certainly doom PSU to a decade or more at the bottom of the college football barrel, are just given the severity of the crimes committed*** and their on-field consequences. While I commend the NCAA and Mark Emmert for coming through with these penalties, I have no earthly idea why they decided to base them on hypocrisy when there was such an obvious and justifiable alternative.

------------------
*The other point of contention was the potentially disconcerting precedent set by Emmert. To that, I'll say this: when do you expect something remotely close to the PSU situation to arise again? And, if we're unfortunate enough that something similar does occur, would it not merit the same level of action? I don't believe Emmert will exercise this executive power even for cheating as severe as Miami's or UNC's.
**Spencer Hall and Drew Magary, most notably, fell on the "scathing" end of the spectrum.
*** I'm referring to the cover-up, not Sandusky.

Comments

Noahdb

July 24th, 2012 at 3:38 PM ^

I think the NCAA acted completely appropriately yesterday. There are any number of references in the NCAA rulebook to being held to higher standards, to mainttaining ethical environments, and upholding the NCAA's message.

Penn State failed on every account and they were rightfully crushed for it. That other schools were not crushed does not mean that the NCAA was wrong yesterday. 

I celebrate Penn State's demise and hope it scares the hell out of the rest of the NCAA-sanctioned schools. 

Shop Smart Sho…

July 24th, 2012 at 3:38 PM ^

You just did the same thing.  Pretty obvious to me that they should have just cited them for lack of institutional control.  

 

You make a pretty big leap in logic to get to "competitive advantage" for this.  I see how you got there, but I don't believe it is accurate.

jackrobert

July 24th, 2012 at 5:18 PM ^

The competitive advantage argument is pretty tenuous, but I think the sanctions are justified for the reason you give (LOIC).

If a PSU fan ever complains to me about the sanctions, I'm going to pose this hypothetical: Suppose the Freeh Report completely absolved Paterno of any responsibility (e.g., McQuery went to the AD instead of JoePa and JoePa never knew anything at any time), but the report still leveled the same charges against Spanier, Schultz, and Curley with respect to failing to report someone whom they had very strong reason to believe was a pedophile.  Would anyone have any problem with the sanctions handed down yesterday?  I would not.

Under this hypothetical, the only sanction that seems dubious is vacating the wins, particularly from 1998-2001.  All of the other sanctions would be justified because PSU's President, AD, and Sr. VP chose to prioritize the football program's and school's PR image over the safety and welfare of children whom, they knew, were at grave risk of being abused by a pedophile.  Setting aside JoePa's involvement in the cover up, this is a textbook case of lack of institutional control - protecting the football program was dictating the decisions made by the school's purported academic leaders.

Having worked in the central administration of another Big Ten school - not Michigan and not PSU (thank god) - I cannot imagine the president of a university making a decision as morally bankrupt as the one Spanier did.  It just goes to show you that the tail was completely wagging the dog at PSU (congrats, Pres. Gee, you are no longer the worst school president ever in this category).  For that, PSU has to pay a massive price regardless of Joe Paterno's role in the cover up.

So I wonder if you remove JoePa from equation, would more PSU fans be able to recognize why the NCAA was warranted in handing down a very severe punishment?  I don't hear many PSU fans defending Spanier, Schultz, and Curley, probably because you'd have to attack McQuery's credibility to make this argument.

Note: based on the evidence in the Freeh Report, I personally believe JoePa played an instrumental role in the cover up and find the JoePa apologists' attempts to deconstruct the Freeh Report idiotic.

Blue in Seattle

July 25th, 2012 at 1:11 PM ^

This is a well written description of how I see the events as well. I disagree that the NCAA statement was hypocritical just because we market a basketball tournament as "March Madness" or or collect a share of money from video game profits that come from using the names of Univerisities. The statement on hero worship was directed at the Univerisities leaders who Joe Paterno worked for. Joel's boss was the one who failed to act and caved in to the power of Joe's "heroic" stature. As to the Paterno apologists, I'm disgusted at how blinded they continue to be. Even when they admit he failed, they treat it as one failure. It was not one failure amongst a bunch of good. It was a culture of football image first over anything else. I find mcQuery's actions as completely cowardly throughout the situation, but he did exactly what he was taught to do by Joe Paterno. Keep things damaging to the reputation of the football program under wraps despite the horrible effects to innocent children. That is what Joe Paterno was teaching everyday he was there.

dcmaizeandblue

July 24th, 2012 at 3:43 PM ^

I still don't see the point in comparing this case to Miami and UNC. When child rape is involved the NCAA can be as hypocritical as they please and will get no complaints from me.

ijohnb

July 24th, 2012 at 4:30 PM ^

child rape is involved does not make the NCAA sanctions any more rational or supportable based on the logic set forth by Emmert.  It certainly isn't logically sound to justify the identity of the institution responsible for the punishment with reference to severity of the crime to begin with.  That does not add up.   

Ace has put his pulse on something that has been digging at me regarding the Penn State sanctions since they were announced.  There is an aspect of punishing the innocent that has not set right, but I can't shake the feeling that the public at large is being manipulated to a certain degree by the explanation given for the sanctions and the severity.  Even if you justify the sanctions with "lack of institutional control," without that lack of control leading to a competitive advantage, I am not sure this action can be justified and I am absolutely postive it is a dangerous precedent for the NCAA.  Emmert went into tricky waters with the "sports over education" and "culture of college football" talk.  While at first glance, the Penn State scandal would seem to fit that mold, but I am sure that Penn State even had the "culture" that Emmert is referring to when he makes statements like this.  Upon further review, something isn't sitting right. 

And forgodsakes, please don't Flamebait me and say some variety of "You child rape enabler!!"  I am engaging in critical thought here and it is certainly not for everybody.

dcmaizeandblue

July 24th, 2012 at 5:19 PM ^

No this lack of institutional control led to something far worse, the destruction of lives. I'm sorry the NCAA rulebook didn't have anything on this yet, but that doesn't mean what they didn't wasn't just. It's not like Emmert was acting alone this was clearly talked about with university presidents and Penn State leadership as well.

With regards to this dangerous precedent what circumstance do you see this becoming a problem? The only precedent I see is a football program and leadership of a university covering up multiple heinous acts and getting punished for it.

B-Nut-GoBlue

July 24th, 2012 at 6:47 PM ^

Does the NCAA need a position on all of this, in their rule book?  I do think the University deserves punishment in some manner, I can't say I'm in disagreement with what they were handed, but I also am not sure I'm totally content with the NCAA stepping in the way they did.  We can't forget these people aren't getting off the hook, they will be punished.  I'll be the first to admit I'm a little uneasy about this country's Judicial system at times, but I don't think I'm going out on a limb here by saying these rotten bastards well be headed to prison; a pretty harsh punishment and well deserved for their actions and decisions while involved in this cover-up.

So these guys are going to be punished.  It seems people are forgetting this and thinking that the University and, more-so the wrong-doers of the University, if not punished by the NCAA, would be getting by unscathed.  This a false premise.  Punishment will be doled out to the wrong-doers.  Which then makes me (and others it seems) question the NCAA's right to come in the way they did and dole out more punishment, setting a precedent I and others are a little uneasy about.  Again, I personally am not totally against the sanctions handed out yesterday, but definitely have my curiosity-meter reading "alert" at how and why the NCAA (Emmert) came in and did what they did.

maizenbluenc

July 25th, 2012 at 7:32 AM ^

is that Penn State leadership covered up heinous acts to be able to continue to have a competitive advantage in football.

It was both a PR coverup for the University, but moreover a "let's keep the party going" in football. And yes it came right at the point when Joe Paterno was in his weakest position.

So since the NCAA felt the rules around LOIC and Competitive Advantage were weakly definied in these unforseen instances, they went with the overiding core values.

It is kind of like saying "we don't have an explicit law for this, but it is in clear violation of the Constitution".

Michigan Arrogance

July 24th, 2012 at 4:08 PM ^

I don't give a shit about hypocracy. Emmert's justification was logically sound, IMO. The punishments were valid.

If anything, this hinders the sentiment among the tin foil hat crowd that the NCAA won't ever tip the cash cow programs like PSU, OSU, USC, etc. Post season sanctions to these 3 powerhouse programs have limited the value of the product of college football. Those are 3 of the biggest programs in the country and they are missing from the bowl season for a cumulalative 8 (?) years.

TrppWlbrnID

July 24th, 2012 at 3:48 PM ^

decimate

dec·i·mate

verb \ˈde-sə-ˌmāt\

dec·i·mat·ed dec·i·mat·ing
transitive verb
1 : to select by lot and kill every tenth man of
2 : to exact a tax of 10 percent from <poor as a decimated Cavalier — John Dryden>
3a : to reduce drastically especially in number <cholera decimated the population>
 
DECIMATE IS ONLY A 10% REDUCTION!
 
/petpeevepeeved

Alton

July 24th, 2012 at 4:05 PM ^

From your own post:  "3a:  to reduce drastically especially in number <cholera decimated the population>"

There you go.  Decimate no longer means exactly 10 percent, and hasn't meant exactly 10 percent since the days of the Roman Legions.  People need to get over this, especially in a sports discussion where all sorts of military metaphors will be, um, deployed. 

 

 

TrppWlbrnID

July 24th, 2012 at 4:45 PM ^

i included it for that reason, but please, this is a Michigan blog. what separates it from RCMB is that we correctly observe the etymology of words with latin roots. if the word didn't have DECI that denotes the number 10 in it, i would agree, but its right there.

also, the history of the word is pretty cool, so it deserves some respect, and not just 3rd definition usage:

A unit selected for punishment by decimation was divided into groups of ten; each group drew lots and the soldier on whom the lot fell was executed by his nine comrades, often by stoning or clubbing.The remaining soldiers were given rations of barley instead of wheat and forced to sleep outside the Roman encampment.

Because the punishment fell by lot, all soldiers in the group were eligible for execution, regardless of the individual degree of fault, or rank and distinction. The leadership was usually executed independently of the one in ten deaths of the rank and file.

/digress

Alton

July 24th, 2012 at 5:19 PM ^

I'm aware of its history, I agree with you that it's "pretty cool", and that's why the word is still worth using today.  Again, since we didn't kill 10 percent of the Penn State players the team was not "decimated" in the sense that the Romans used the word.  But if we only use "decimated" to mean exactly what it meant to Julius Caesar, we are discarding a "pretty cool" word, since we would never actually have occasion to use it.

Do you have a problem with the fact that I use my "salary" to buy things other than salt?  Will you complain in November when I say that I "cast a ballot" despite the fact that I'm not tossing a pebble into a box?  Of course not--words evolve, and it's a good thing that they do.

People speak in metaphors all of the time, even when they are not aware they are doing it.  It makes our language better, not worse.

polometer

July 24th, 2012 at 4:06 PM ^

that you read definition 3a.  Does my sarcasm meter need a tune-up?  You could have even read definition 3b at http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/decimate and you would find another example of a definition not based on the definition.  Hell, in the example section they use "decimiate" in the same fashio as Ace.  Seriously though, where do you even get a sarcasm meter tuned up: auto-mechanic, head shrink, or do I just go home and watch Seinfeld?

Smash Lampjaw

July 24th, 2012 at 5:29 PM ^

Back in my double-digit point days I made this point a few times, and then I thought I better get off it. It is a cool word, and much cooler when used with purpose. I would save it for those rare occasions when there is an actual reduction of 10%, and use another word for a more drastic reduction, such as quintate. I knew there was a reason that TW is one of my favorite commenters.

dnak438

July 24th, 2012 at 3:46 PM ^

or should have been. The Freeh report (chapter 10) makes it clear that Penn State failing abysmally at maintaining oversight of the football program and compliance (with, e.g., the Clery Act).

Wave83

July 24th, 2012 at 11:47 PM ^

What does "loss of institutional control" mean for NCAA purposes?  I would have thought that it referred to the failure of the adults (e.g. the coaches, maybe athletic department staff) to maintain order and control of the student athletes (and prevent wholesale mischief, violations involving cash payments from boosters, gambling, performance-enhancing drugs, etc. etc.). 

The Freeh Report, and Ace's analysis, refers to a very different loss of control.  While I think that failure of control is also very important (and probably more important that just making sure the students don't wander down to the tattoo parlor with extra jerseys and shoulder pads), it is not clear to me that the NCAA mandate relates to making sure the academic side of the university -- the presidents and trustees/regents -- control the athletic department (including their adults).

Maybe the NCAA rules re LOIC cover this lack of oversight as well, or perhaps it doesn't and it should.  However, it seems as if many people are jumping to the conclusion that the failure of Spainer to reign in Sandusky and Paterno constitutes LOIC and I am not sure that is clearly right.  For one thing, it seems as if the NCAA was designed to regulate the athletic programs only, not the universities themselves.

Does anyone know whether control of the athletic programs by the university presidents is covered by the NCAA regulation?  I honestly don't know the answer to my question.

Alton

July 25th, 2012 at 11:37 AM ^

The NCAA defines Institutional Control in Bylaw 2.1:

"It is the responsibility of each member institution to control its intercollegiate athletics program in compliance with the rules and regulations of the Association. The institution’s president or chancellor is responsible for the administration of all aspects of the athletics program, including approval of the budget and audit of all expenditures.  The institution’s responsibility for the conduct of its intercollegiate athletics program includes responsibility for the actions of its staff members and for the actions of any other individual or organization engaged in activities promoting the athletics interests of the institution."

So Institutional Control is the control of the athletic department and boosters by the president/chancellor of the University.  "Lack of Institutional Control" in this case is the failure of the president to adequately supervise the athletic department staff.

 

Gulo Blue

July 25th, 2012 at 3:50 PM ^

LOIC involves the responsibility to comply with the rules and regulations of the NCAA.  Penn State did comlpy with the rules and regulations of the NCAA, but not the mission and spirit. So it's technically not LOIC by the definition.

Benoit Balls

July 24th, 2012 at 3:54 PM ^

As I was watching the presser yesterday, I was happy to hear what they were doing but also made a "wanking" motion to my wife when they started talking about their virtues. She asked why I was doing that, thinking I didn't agree with what they are doing to Penn State. I told her that what they were doing was warranted and perfectly fine by me, but I didn't care to listen to the NCAA try to deliver some BS message and try to convince me they care about anything other than PR and keeping the cash rolling in.

I also discussed with her the same point about PSU getting an advantage in football by keeping the tales of the pederast out of the light. I was telling her about all the people on tv saying the NCAA had no right, but I figure of course the NCAA has the right because A: its their "group" and they can do whatever they want to anyone who wants to be in their group, and B: Penn State covered everything up solely to maintain their image. Had they not, it is entirely possible the program could have taken a hit in national perception, lost traction with recruits and started a downward spiral. It was 100% a football decision.

Bully for the NCAA, but they can stuff their sanctimony in a sack.

Benoit Balls

July 24th, 2012 at 4:25 PM ^

but do you think this is going to cost the NCAA more than the negative publicity of doing nothing potentially could have? I do not. In fact I think it gives them an opportunity to seize the high ground and divert everyones attention from the billions of dollars generated by a tax exempt organization.

(alsok i noticed I put Brians name rather than Aces in my initial response. My bad)

Michigan Arrogance

July 24th, 2012 at 5:32 PM ^

well, there would be negative publicity b/c that would have been the wrong thing to do (do nothing, that is), according to the majoriety of people in and out of the NCAA. So yeah, they took the high ground.

 popular majoriety opinion is on the same side as 'doing the right thing'

 

and, they are a tax exempt org precisely b/c of the reasons Emmert set forth for levying these sanctions: they should be a org that works toward the welfare, education and safety of young people first and foremost. these sanctions align with that principle, again, just as Emmert stated.

 

I really think the cinicism of many are getting way ahead of what happened here.

96goblue00

July 24th, 2012 at 4:07 PM ^

they are severly punishing current players, the new staff, individuals who are so far removed from what transpired that punishing them seems unfair. Well, they can transfer, right? Easier said than done. Your choice is (a) to transfer to another school to pursue your dreams of playing high-level football and competing for bowls/championships and leave your friends, professors, the campus you love behind or (b) stay but know that your collegiate football career will pretty much be shit. There are 85 kids on the squad who will have to make that choice. What about the new coach? He and his staff are on the hook (under contract) to coach at this school. He and all the new staff left their respected jobs with the hope that they will be given a chance to build a new chapter and try to turn the ship around. Not so much, not with the crushing penalties. These penalties are, in practice, the death penalty. Penn State football is done, at least for a looooong time. The new coach was brought over from New England only to be served up a plate full of "good luck". Fine the university. Claw back some of the $$$ that Paterno got in light of the report and his role in the cover-up. Fine the administration, the Board of Trustees but, I am sorry, to screw over around a 100 current players/personnel that had nothing to do with this scandal is not right. Let's be real. The NCAA jumped on the bandwagon. They did it to save face in light of the public opinion; so they would not come off indifferent, but the death penalty was not appropriate in this case. What happened at Penn State was quite atrocious, from Sandusky's vile acts to the cover up by the high-ups, and it should (and will be) rightfully addressed both in the criminal as well as the civil court systems, but the NCAA's punishment seems to me unfair in that it punishes innocent individuals.  

MaizeAndBlueWahoo

July 24th, 2012 at 4:12 PM ^

I would've agreed with your argument had PSU been given the death penalty. But the players now have the choice to play at Penn State, or not.  Did they go to Penn State because they value what Penn State offers them?  Then they will stay, and it's no worse than someone who goes to Indiana because they value what Indiana offers them.  Did they go to Penn State because it was a good path to bowl games, championships, fame, an NFL career, and so on?  Then they will leave.

A player who chose to play at Penn State can still stay at Penn State.  The fact that Penn State is now changed does not trouble me.  It's hardly different than a coaching change.  After all, most of those players signed up to play for Joe Paterno, and Joe Paterno is now dead - had none of this ever happened, it's likely he'd be dead regardless, or at least in no shape to coach, and nobody would be saying it's sooooo unfair that this wasn't the Penn State they signed up for.

96goblue00

July 24th, 2012 at 4:35 PM ^

This is, essentially, the death penalty for the football program. Give me a break. It may take a decade plus for the program to become even remotely competitive.

Regarding your view on the players' choice, I find it a bit naive and unsympathetic to the current players (and staff) in the program. I am guessing that many went to Penn State for the complete package my friend, the football and the academics, not one or the other like you suggest (Many athletes come to Michigan, likewise, because of the great balance of academics and football prestige). Yes, they do have a choice, but it is unfair that they have to make a choice in the first place because of the collective punishment. It is unfair because it is a difficult choice (Per my previous post: (a) to transfer to another school to pursue your dreams of playing high-level football and competing for bowls/championships and leave your friends, professors, the campus you love behind or (b) stay but know that your collegiate football career will pretty much be shit). Also keep in mind that transfering is not easy. You have to make new friends, you have to adjust to a new environment, not to mention all the hassle of the paperwork, etc. etc. 

I get peeved with all the holier-than-thou homers who are like "Fuck Penn State. They f-ing deserve it!!!" while failing to show any sympathy/understanding for the difficulties the current players and staff are now faced with and how unfair the punishment is to them.

justingoblue

July 24th, 2012 at 4:55 PM ^

Leaving the player sympathy angle alone (I happen to agree with MABW, but that's neither here nor there) the coaches are all grown men who, with the exception of two of Paterno's guys, were hired in January and February knowing full well how far the consequences of this scandal could potentially reach.

Going off comparable program salaries, the lowest paid person with the title of coach is still making six figures, and there is little to any substantive impact on their job (they can still recruit, teach technique, gameplan, host camps, watch film with current players, ect.). They don't get to coach at a winning program? Too bad. Nobody seems to feel pity for the assistants at Ohio, MSU and ND when M fans routinely hope they have multiple 0-12 seasons.

Mr Miggle

July 24th, 2012 at 6:39 PM ^

The coaching staff has unusally good job security.

The players were put into a tough situation by the scandal before the NCAA stepped in. It put them into an unpleasant position that they could not have foreseen when they chose to attend PSU. Some of them are going to miss out on bowl games now because of the NCAA ruling. Others are going to benefit by the NCAA making it easier for them to transfer. It's reasonable to think some wanted out due to the turmoil or the circumstances of the coaching change. Others may benefit as they move up the depth chart. On the whole, the damage to the players attributable to the NCAA is not so clear.

96goblue00

July 24th, 2012 at 4:48 PM ^

This is, essentially, the death penalty for the football program. Give me a break. It may take a decade plus for the program to become even remotely competitive.

Regarding your view on the players' choice, I find it a bit naive and unsympathetic to the current players (and staff) in the program. I am guessing that many went to Penn State for the complete package my friend, the football and the academics, not one or the other like you suggest (Many athletes come to Michigan, likewise, because of the great balance of academics and football prestige). Yes, they do have a choice, but it is unfair that they have to make a choice in the first place because of the collective punishment. It is unfair because it is a difficult choice (Per my previous post: (a) to transfer to another school to pursue your dreams of playing high-level football and competing for bowls/championships and leave your friends, professors, the campus you love behind or (b) stay but know that your collegiate football career will pretty much be shit). Also keep in mind that transfering is not easy. You have to make new friends, you have to adjust to a new environment, not to mention all the hassle of the paperwork, etc. etc. 

I get peeved with all the holier-than-thou homers who are like "Fuck Penn State. They f-ing deserve it!!!" while failing to show any sympathy/understanding for the difficulties the current players and staff are now faced with and how unfair the punishment is to them.

 

HermosaBlue

July 24th, 2012 at 4:23 PM ^

I get that the players didn't do anything wrong, but the grievous failings of the parties involved, namely the school's leadership in the administration and the athletic department, as well as Paterno himself, are, in almost every meaningful way, failings of Penn State itself.  While I don't fault PSU for Sandusky's crimes at the same level as I fault Sandusky, the decade-long coverup and turning of a blind eye to such horrific crimes deserves thorough and complete repudiation which the university failed to proffer until given no choice.

To those who say "but what about the innocent players?" I respond: please propose an alternative that sufficiently punishes the school, the football program, and the people responsible while also setting the context for the appropriate cultural change and reprioritization (football...not more important than preventing child sexual abuse) that does not also collaterally damage the players.

At least the players get a choice to transfer.  The students and alumni have to live with the stain of the school's failings every time their name is associated with the school.

Can you imagine being a PSU grad looking for a job this year?  Every single person who looks at your resume has an immediate unpleasant association attached to it.  

A massive undertaking to prove regret and serve penance is in the long-term best interests of all innocents associated with Penn State.  

Yes, it sucks for 85 scholarship athletes.  But, in the grand scheme of things, it's the least awful option for the larger Penn State family.  Admit you fucked up.  Take your medicine.  Show contrition and genuine regret. Try to fix it going forward.

GoWings2008

July 24th, 2012 at 4:37 PM ^

...to a couple things:

"please propose an alternative that sufficiently punishes the school, the football program, and the people responsible while also setting the context for the appropriate cultural change and reprioritization"

First off, I thought the punishment was supposed to be for the football program and not as much about the school...but neither here nor there. 

Secondly, I'm okay with loss of scholarships, bowl ban and the lot...but the extent of the fines will undoubtedly have an impact on the other sports programs that depend on the football program for money.  I think the people responsible have been sufficiently punished and through a bowl ban and loss of scholarships does definitely punish the football program, and even a small(er) fine, to me, makes sense.  But that amount of money will definitely hurt other teams. 

96goblue00

July 24th, 2012 at 4:44 PM ^

assessment reeks of complete lack of sympathy for the INNOCENT players/coaches on the squad. They are being punished for something they have absolutely nothing to do with. What are some alternatives. I don't know but collectively punishing a group of individuals who are completely innocent does not seem right/fair to me.

You say "At least the players get a choice to transfer." Well, easier said than done. Just because the NCAA "graciously" let them transfer without having to sit out one year does not make it an easy decision, or process.

ESNY

July 24th, 2012 at 10:02 PM ^

I have zero sympathy to those "innocent" players. The coach they committed to, and presumably idolized and looked up to, was instrumental in covering up for a child molester. God knows how manyaddtional kids were subjected to this abuse because Joepa didn't want to jeopardize his program. They are still getting an education, playing football at a big school and will get media attention and play games on tv and get noticed by the NFL if they are good. So their teams will presumably not be good and lose a lot and no bowl games. Boo fucking hoo. You can say the same thing for the players at Indiana or Duke.

This is how NCAA sanctions work. It always punishes the "innocent" but there really is no other way. You need to penalize the program in addition to the guilty parties. Just as I shed no tears for innocent OSU seniors not being able to go to a bowl game this year, I shed no tears for the remaining PSU players. They got in bed with a fucked up program (albeit much different levels) and they are paying the price.

MaizeAndBlueWahoo

July 24th, 2012 at 4:07 PM ^

 I have no earthly idea why they decided to base them on hypocrisy when there was such an obvious and justifiable alternative.

The answer is very, very simple: because it aligns with the media message that has been going around.  The media has not been saying "they gained a huge competitive advantage!  Punish them!"  The media has been saying "their values are screwed up!  Think of the victims!  Punish them!"  Align with the media message and you avoid all kinds of questions.  If the media agrees with you, you win.  If not, you lose.

M-Wolverine

July 24th, 2012 at 4:08 PM ^

It should be at Penn State. If they had stepped forward and done something similar to themselves and not had to wait to have their arm twisted no one else would have had to do anything.  After their void of leadership, they needed a leader. Someone to say we're going to investigate it all to make sure it will never happen again. And we can never make it up to the kids that were harmed, but Penn State will hereforth be known as a leader in defending the weak and abused, whether it be financially, research and prevention, and creating institutions that will help prevent future victims.  So one day Penn State will be known as not an enabler, but a leader in the battle against child abuse.

But they continued to have no leadership, and acted wishy-washy about it all, and brought it on themselves.  The NCAA may not be the paragon of virtue, but their corruption doesn't really compare.  It's like getting mad at the cop who takes some cash from drug busts because he stopped a serial killer. Yeah, he's not clean, but I know who'd I'd rather have punished.

TrppWlbrnID

July 24th, 2012 at 4:12 PM ^

of turning the football program into some sort of money generator for child abuse programs. i think that is a lot harder if the team sucks rather than if it is good.

snarling wolverine

July 24th, 2012 at 4:27 PM ^

The debate surrounding the—wait for it—unprecedented penalties handed down to the PSU football program has largely hinged on whether or not the NCAA had any jurisdiction at all over this issue, one that at face value went so far beyond football that it seemed inappropriate and insensitive to make it a football issue.

I don't agree. PSU made this a football issue when they decided not to turn Sandusky in for the good of their football program. Their misguided priorities ("football > justice for raped children") needed to be set straight. Allowing them to continue with the football money train would not have sent the message clearly, IMO. They're going to have to cope without an elite football program for awhile, and hopefully they'll learn from it.

Dawggoblue

July 24th, 2012 at 4:14 PM ^

Going to agree with a few others. It's quite a stretch to lable this a competitive advantage. Although I am one that believes due process was ignored and the NCAA over stepped it's bounds so of course I'll disagree.

Gitback

July 24th, 2012 at 4:15 PM ^

The problem I have is that any organization can throw in a "rule" or "policy" regarding carrying yourself with integrity, maintaing an ethical environment and it means nothing without precedent.  The link to this being a "competative advantage" is tenuous, which is why they didn't go with that I'm sure.  To assert that by hiding the situation they avoided the damage which would have come by exposing it and therefore gained a competative advantage is turning the notion of competative advantage on its head.  Hiding the matter maintained the status quo, it didn't enhance their ability to compete vis a vis other schools.  One could argue the point, but that's a stretch.

What bothers me is the same thing that Brian has touched upon; this was largely a LEGAL situation which the law stepped in and handled.  The NCAA, to me, is supposed to regulate things that cannot (necessarily) be governed by laws, competative advantage issues first and foremost.  There is no "law" against getting free tatoos, therefore the NCAA enforces a rule about extra benefits.  The precedent here, though, may open up a can of worms the NCAA does not want to tackle.  You can envision an infinite number of "morality" scenarios that begin to creep towards being near the level of "the Penn State issue" and there will be a lot of chain rattling about this decision.

For instance... an assistant coach gets nailed for DUI but the press doesn't pick up on it.  He confesses to the head coach he has a bit of a drinking problem, but the head coach, not wanting to embarrass the coach (or the program) simply tells the guy to get some help and make sure nothing like this happens again.  It's forgotten until a year later when, drunk, the assistant coach kills a family of 4 on the road.  Then it comes about about the prior DUI, but that the coach wasn't disciplined, that the school essentially "covered it up" and there was no follow up regarding the coach seeking treatment.  Prior to the Penn State incident I would have never believed that this would be a situation where the NCAA would feel the need to step in.  Now?  Who knows.  In that instance you better believe Penn State would be there demanding a pound of flesh (much like USC did when OSU was on the hotseat).  This is just one hypothetical along the "gray area" spectrum that you can envision.  Under this broad guise of comporting the program with "integrity" and all that, how does the NCAA draw the line.  We now have the PSU situation as the one extreme (hopefully!), and we can envision the other extreme.  But it seems to me there is a lot of unknown in the middle.

Gitback

July 24th, 2012 at 4:28 PM ^

...but by changing the hypothetical you're making the judgement call easier.  The point is to illustrate the less obvious calls.  With this decision, the NCAA has opened themselves up to criticism everytime a "moral" situation arises.  10 years of drunk driving and killing people is easy, most scenarious won't be.  

 

Take the Patrino situation... should the NCAA have stepped in there?  Head coach having an affair with an employee and lying about it, then attempting to cover it up?  Can you hold the school responsible for what JUST the head coach does?  What's the minimum on how many people have to be involved before you can hold the entire institution responsible?  In the PSU situation it was four; factoring in their relative positions within the institution itself.  If I'm the NCAA I don't even open this door.