I love college football. I’m a long term hater of Penn State. That being said, the sanctions imposed on Penn State today are the stupidest things I’ve ever heard.
(An aside for international readers who may not know the story – US readers feel free to skip ahead: A Penn State assistant football coach named Jerry Sandusky was found guilty of raping boys who he met through a charity he had set up. The coach of Penn State, Joe Paterno, was fired and then died soon after. Today the NCAA, who sets the rules for college sports, decided to punish the school.)
1) First of all, I don’t think this is the business of the NCAA. No violations of college sports rules happened. They are saying they got involved because they are supposed to have sports be a model of integrity. Yeah, right. Go back to policing recruiting violations and bribery that happen in sports. This is a criminal case involving people who are involved in sports but not actually involving the team at all.
2) But since no one wanted my opinion, the NCAA got involved. They decided to not let Penn State play in any post season games for 4 years. Ok. That seems like a fair punishment. Post season play brings a lot of money and prestige to a program. That is hitting them where it hurts. I’d be ok if they stopped there.
3) They took away the ability to give out 20 football scholarships this year and 10 next year. The idea is that without the ability to give scholarships the the team won’t be able to recruit the best players which effectively cripples the program for years. Who is being punished here? The kids that would have had their college tuition paid for. It isn’t like these 20 scholarships are going to kids who are all superstars and are going to be easily recruited by other schools. Scholarships number 11-20 for sure aren’t going to potential NFL players. These kids weren’t even at Penn State when anything bad happened. How does this help the victims?
4) They fined the school 60 million dollars and are requiring them to set up a fund with that money to help abuse victims. 60 million is the amount the football program brings in to the school in a year. So they pay out 60 million and they bring in less money with no post season games. Let’s say as a conservative estimate that over the next several years that the school is now down 100 million dollars. Who does that punish? Every student at the school who is going to see their tuition and/or fees go up and their programs cut.
5) They “erased” the wins of the last several years. This just plain pisses me off. You can not “erase” wins. That’s revisionist history. They won the games they won. Who does this punish? Every player and coach for those teams. This move is aimed at Joe Paterno because he had won the most games in college football history. With these games erased he’s in second place. You know what? He doesn’t care. He’s dead. Any time that record is discussed people will say that Bobby Bowden is the official record holder but everyone knows that Paterno really was the best. How does this help the victims?
So, the NCAA has officially punished everyone but the person who committed the crime. They can’t punish him because he’s already gone from the school and been convicted. They are piling on a dead man because they say that he didn’t report it when he was told that it happened. Excuse me, but what ever happened to the witness who saw the rape occur and went to a football coach instead of the police? Why is the football coach more culpable than the eyewitness? Is it because he is dead and someone has to take the fall? Is it because they say he was powerful enough to stop an investigation? He was a powerful man but he was not the voice of God. Who are the police who didn’t investigate? Oh, I’m sorry, let’s blame a dead guy because it deflects blame from the police and administration.
This isn’t justice. This is trying to act like they care enough to “do something”. It is typical of our society where everyone feels that someone has to be blamed whenever something bad happens. I don’t doubt that if the football program wasn’t so powerful at Penn State that the guy would have been caught much earlier. But punish the guilty (which has been done) and not the innocent. That doesn’t help anyone.