The penalty doesn't fit

Few punishments could properly fit sickening Penn State scandal

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It wasn’t the death penalty that some folks wanted. But it’s at least a sort of drug-induced coma.

The NCAA, which governs college athletics, hammered Penn State’s tarnished football program this week with a $60 million fine, four-year ban on postseason play, temporary 20-scholarship reduction and five-year probation. The school also must forfeit 112 wins from 1998 to 2011, roughly the period during which boys are known to have been sexually assaulted by assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

A recent investigation by former FBI director Louis Freeh concluded that then-head coach Joe Paterno and three other high-ranking school officials conspired to protect Sandusky and the football program – and to throw the little boys to the wolves.

The day before the sanctions were announced, a statue of Paterno was properly taken down and taken inside.

It feels odd for Penn State to even field a football team after all this, and most certainly it shouldn’t do so. The school could still suspend the program voluntarily, though that appears doubtful after the NCAA sanctions.

Penn State has accepted the NCAA’s decision, and university President Rodney Erickson said it will not appeal. Given the carnage – at least 10 boys abused over a 15-year period, sometimes at the school – it would be bad form to complain much.

This is arguably the worst scandal in collegiate sports history, if not sports history in general. The Freeh report reveals that the Sandusky cover-up was both conscious and repeated.

History will debate whether the punishment fit the crime.

We don’t think it does. If this is indeed the worst scandal in collegiate sports history – and what could be worse than giving aid and comfort to a pedophile over more than a decade? – then the punishment ought to be the most severe in collegiate sports history as well. It’s not.

The football program should be suspended for a few years at least – the so-called “death penalty.” It turns the stomach to think of the school fielding a team while the many wounds of this scandal are still so fresh.

It goes to show you how easily even child victims are lost in the shuffle – and how insanely powerful football has become on college campuses.

No one gets more enjoyment out of football than we do, but the American sporting world is upside down, and we’ve got our priorities absolutely backward, when sports are the tail wagging the higher education dog. Whatever happened to the primacy of the education mission in college? God help us.

“Joe Paterno was the dictator of Penn State,” one observer wrote.

So the NCAA thinks it can right this wrong by throwing money at the problem? With the haunting thoughts of what all those boys endured under the blanket of protection that Penn State officials put over the savagery, we’re going to strip the school of prior wins and a few potential bowl games?

Come on.

“How could the most egregious acts in collegiate history not lead to the most severe penalties?” asks Chris Dufresne in the Los Angeles Times.

The NCAA’s penalties sound harsh and feel inadequate. Just before hitting Penn State, the NCAA pulled up and softened the blow.

The truth is, it’s hard to find a punishment big enough to wrap around this monstrous an offense.

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myfather15
56766
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myfather15 07/25/12 - 03:07 am
9
1
I saw the coverage of this on

I saw the coverage of this on ESPN with Franco Harris and many others showing unwavering support for Joe Paterno. This is just disgusting to me. Who is Joe Paterno? He is just a FOOTBALL COACH!! He is not a god and obviously isn't even a good man if he covered up child molestation so his FOOTBALL program could continue. I wouldn't allow Joe Paterno's name on ANYTHING on campus, after hearing this evidence. I would rename the library and any other building with his disgusting name. To think that someone cares more about football than the welfare of children. That includes YOU FRANCO HARRIS!! Your pathetic for your "unwavering support". This Country is getting completely reversed in every aspect of how we should actually be and what we should REALLY care about.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 07/25/12 - 04:05 am
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Punishment Was Wrong

Early on I suggested Joe Paterno should be fired when most were taking up for him so you'll know where I'm coming from. But there was one pedophile who did this who is now in prison for the rest of his life. Joe Pa is dead. Two others who covered up the crimes are awaiting trial. Those were the guilty ones, not the football team or school.

If a high school coach committed some similar crime would the county do away with the school's football program? I don't think so because the school derives value from having a team. The team is not related to the criminal actions of one man and the coverup of a few administrators.

I believe the correct "punishment" would have been for the school to donate all profits from football for the next 4 years to victims of child abuse or a similar charity. Since they make about $65 million a year that would be considerably more than the $60 million fine. But I would not have punished the football team and new coaches in any other way. This was not their doing. Nor was it the actions of the students who benefit from the team also.

The knee jerk reaction to punish everyone and everything is not well thought out.

Riverman1
93727
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Riverman1 07/25/12 - 04:14 am
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University Asked for Probe

A key point in all this that shouldn't be overlooked is the University asked for former FBI director Louis Freeh to do this investigation. They took it upon themselves to fund the investigation.

myfather15
56766
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myfather15 07/25/12 - 05:34 am
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2
@Riverman

I understand your point but it was the Athletic Director that was also involved in the cover up. This is not just Joe Pa or other coaches, its the administration of the school. I do believe they need to send a Supremely strong message that this will NOT be tolerated by anyone. They do need to send the message that FOOTBALL is not life and death. These children were scarred for life as with most child sex abuse victims. If the punishment helps other schools administration look at it and say "No way I'm getting involved in ANY kind of coverup, just for a football program." I think its a wonderful thing. A four year ban from bowl games?? Is that really harsh? Thats only till the next Presidential election and that isn't that long. And giving up their wins from the last 14 years was the right thing in my opinion as well. Joe Pa deserves no credit for anything that occurred during that period. The players that played during that time will still have the memories, you can't take those away so they will be fine.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 07/25/12 - 05:50 am
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Just keep in mind those

Just keep in mind those involved in the cover-up are awaiting trial. So the involved administrators are being punished. Also, it was an assistant football coach and former player who went to Joe P and the administrators after seeing Sandusky with the boy in the shower. That should reflect favorably on the football program. Why didn't state agencies, police and prosecutors do something the first time charges were made against Sandusky?

My problem with the sanctions is it's like tearing down a bridge because a bank robber used it for his get-away. Statements like sending a message to college football are hyperbole. This criminal event has nothing to do with the loss of control with bigtime football programs at colleges. That's another story. Look right around here at our college football players and tell me they are college material with a straight face.

blues550
380
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blues550 07/25/12 - 05:59 am
0
1
Punishment did fit
Unpublished

First of all, Penn State through Paterno, the AD, the President and who knows how many more is guilty as hell and deserves every punishment rendered.

Is this just? Absolutely.

Is this the proverbial book thrown at them? I believe it is dead on.

While eloquent in its name the death penalty is given for schools having rules infractions while already under sanctions. Penn State clearly did not fit here.

Anybody with a moderate knowlege level knows the football sanctions will have a greater effect over time. The NCAA essentially gutted it.

Stripping victories for that long of a period is huge. And can not be overlooked. Despite former players and the now boring protests from the Paterno clan, the winningist coach in college football ain't know more. Yule Brenner tossing Charleton Heston out of Egypt comes to mind.

And finally, despite the actions of the cads covering this sorid mess up, a lot of people draw their income and enjoyment from Penn State and they, nor the players should should not be thrown in with the criminals involved.

A just and well-deserved punishment it was.

justthefacts
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justthefacts 07/25/12 - 07:49 am
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Severity

myfather, the results of this decision will last far longer than 4 yrs. Penn State may never recover. Once the flow of quality players is stympied it becomes a very difficult task to reenergize it.

lifelongresident
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lifelongresident 07/25/12 - 08:35 am
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riverman,on this one you are
Unpublished

riverman,
on this one you are way off base, you are talking like this was an isolated incident.....first-sandusky was brutilizing young boys for 14 years, second an most important while this was going one it was covered up and ALLOWED TO CONTINUE by all in charge of the UNIVERSITY....THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNIVERSITY KNEW!!! THE AD KNEW...THE VP OF FINANCE KNEW...THE HEAD OF THE CAMPUS POLICE KNEW!!! AND LASTLY "JO PA" KNEW, IT WAS HE WHO TOLD EVERYONE TO PRATICALLY BUTT OUT...THE QUOTE JACK NICHOLSON'S CHARACTER IN A FEW GOOD MEN...PATERNO TOLD THEM "I RUN MY PROGRAMT THE WAY I RUN MY PROGRAM" RIVER IT IS COMMON KNOWLEDGE THAT 1) "JO PA" WAS ONE OF THE MOST, IF NOT THE MOST POWERFUL MAN IN THE STATE OF PA AND HE WAS ALLOWED BY THE ADMINISTRATION TO DISCIPLINE HIS PLAYERS AS HE SAW FIT, THERE WERE ASSAULTS, THEFTS, DRUGS, DRINKING, FIGHTS AND OTHER CRIMES COMMITTED BY HIS PLAYERS AND THEY WERE NOT SUBJECT TO THE SAME RULES THAT NON-FOOTBALL PLAYERS WERE. THEY WERE PUNISHED FAR EASIER THAN FOOTBALL PLAYERS. river then tell me why SMU was given the death penalty for multiple infractions (of players getting paid), but penn state was not when from paterno on up KNEW SANDUSKY WAS RAPING YOUNG BOYS FOR 14 YEARS (not once, twice, not touching or fondling but RAPING THEM!!!) SO TELL ME RIVER WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE? penn state should not receive the death penalty for the actions of sandusky (criminal matter), they should have received the death penalty because the upper school adminstrators and president along with paterno KNEW WHAT SANDUSKY WAS DOING TO THE LITTLE BOYS FOR 14YEARS AND STOOD BY AND DID NOTHING!!! their inaction in the face of the multiple rapes over 14 YEARS is the reason the program needed to be shut down!!!!!

harley_52
25888
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harley_52 07/25/12 - 09:38 am
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Unfair and Irrational

In my opinion, the NCAA's punishment is inappropriate. The crimes that were committed had little, or nothing, to do with Penn State's performance on the football field. The punishable offenses didn't include recruiting violations which allowed them to build an unbeatable team via cheating on NCAA rules. The offenses did not involve drug-enhanced players, nor stealing signs or signals from opposing teams. Instead, the offenses involved actions and activities that are appropriately handled by criminal and civil courts, and that's where the punishment should be decided and the revenge extracted. That's well in motion.

As far as I'm concerned the PEOPLE involved have either died, or are in the process of being punished via the legal system. As an institution, the University has already taken the appropriate action and, to the best of our knowledge has already purged itself of the guilty people and has thoroughly investigated the affair.

Beyond all of that, the NCAA should butt out. It is (or at least should be) outside their purview. It is inappropriate for them to punish the students, the innocent Administrators, and the alumni associations that had no part in the criminal activity, or any kind of cover up.

To me, the NCAA is attempting to insert itself and assert itself just to prove how "powerful" they are. I think they come off looking like some sort of irrational bully kicking an institution in the teeth while they're already down and essentially helpless.

lifelongresident
1323
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lifelongresident 07/25/12 - 08:50 am
0
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harley, the program needed to
Unpublished

harley, the program needed to be shut down because it's called "insitutional control" just like SMU there was none players got paid, cars, apts, parents got jobs and they got the dealth penalty. paterno and the upper adminstration CONSPIRED TO KEEP WHAT SANDUSKY WAS DOING A SECRET (just like SMU conspired to keep what they were doing a secret) and that's why the program should be shut down....at SMU the upper-level adminstration knew what was going on the same as penn state so tell me harley why was it justifed to kill SMU's program for players taking money but not penn state when the adminstration knew what sandusky was dong.

Jake
34083
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Jake 07/25/12 - 09:55 am
3
1
Well written

Very well written harley and I agree with you also Riverman.

Riverman1
93727
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Riverman1 07/25/12 - 10:02 am
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Harley, nice post. Jake,

Harley, nice post.
Jake, thanks.
MyFather, the former Athletic Director Tim Curley and former Vice President Gary Schultz have been charged with perjury....and rightfully so.

avidreader
3560
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avidreader 07/25/12 - 10:03 am
3
2
Lessons Learned!

One of the usual AC bloggers recently stated, "This is why we should not memorialize people until after they are dead." I'm paraphrasing; however, this is a good point. Do not build statues, name buildings, stadiums, etc. to memorialize a hero until after the hero is dead. Sometimes heros turn out to be demons.

It still bothers me that there are so many memorials dedicated to Richard Nixon, including his alma mater, Whittier College. Granted, Nixon was not a pedophile, but his unscrupulous betrayal of the American people (including our soldiers in Vietnam) was a dagger in our hearts.

Let history unveil our heroes. I feel sorry for Paterno's widow and family, but if history reveals this man as deserving of forgiveness, then his statue can be replaced on Penn State's sacred grounds. Only time will tell, and until then, let his bronze likeness collect dust in a warehouse.

Craig Spinks
818
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Craig Spinks 07/25/12 - 11:35 am
2
0
The latest and most egregious example of...

The Conspiracy of Silence.

YeCats
12123
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YeCats 07/25/12 - 11:54 am
3
1
I agree with JTF. This

I agree with JTF. This penalty, leveled by the NCAA, is crippling. I believe worst than a 1 or 2 year death penalty.

Statue removed, renamed streets, punishing football programs, etc. ain't gonna change anything. Bless the downtrodden partys, and with their lawyers, they are lining up. Penn St., WITH the NCAA is preparing its defence.

One man is responsible, yet in todays society,,,,, you can't blame them, for preparing. If they are found "enabling", legal punishment will decide.

SAPCS
35
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SAPCS 07/25/12 - 01:29 pm
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6
The crux of the matter.....

The punishment doled out by the NCAA was intended to dismantle a football program that had become too large and too all-encompassing. A cover-up of this magnitude could only have been perpetrated in an environment where football and Joe Paterno were revered above all else. If anything, the punishment was not severe enough. SMU's football program was given the so-called "death sentence," and for actions far less severe than those that Paterno and his cohorts are accused.

Bizkit
35569
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Bizkit 07/25/12 - 03:10 pm
4
0
Seems the punishment will

Seems the punishment will also punish innocent students and others-collateral damage. The people responsible should be held legally responsible but why punish the school for the offense of specific individuals. Seems odd unless all the administration was in Cahoots. I like the idea of all financial gain going to deal with sex crimes.

harley_52
25888
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harley_52 07/25/12 - 04:30 pm
5
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Really?

"The punishment doled out by the NCAA was intended to dismantle a football program that had become too large and too all-encompassing. "

Maybe I misunderstand the role of the NCAA. I wasn't aware their charter included the responsibility for managing the size and scope of each member school's football program and punishing them for being too big. Have they published rules and specifications for such size and scope determinations?

eagle
94
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eagle 07/25/12 - 05:12 pm
0
0
The NCAA has indeed
Unpublished

The NCAA has indeed overstepped its authority. While I am no fan of Penn State (never have been) and while there is always going to be collateral damage in any punishment, for the NCAA to punish the whole student body of this school is irresponsible. The cover up was the actions of coaches and administrators. Punish them severely and levy a substantial fine, then move on.

Jake
34083
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Jake 07/25/12 - 05:39 pm
4
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Encompassing football programs

And I suppose that every major university's football program is not "all encompassing"? I know UGA's, Alabama's, Florida's, Michigan's (I could go on and on) seem to be pretty "encompassing". Penn State's was no different. It is because SOME members of Penn State's administration and coaching staff were at fault then it is open season on it's football program? Some folks won't be satisfied until the campus at Penn State are under air strikes.
I have a connection to Penn State through marriage, my wife and some of her siblings have graduated from there. Recently (December) I was walking the campus with my wife and children and thought how proud I would be if they could go there when they graduate from high school. It is a great university and believe me, it is much, much larger than the sports program.
The NCAA feels like it has to do something to the football program to show how tough they are but, in reality, it was individuals who failed not the program.

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