Thursday, July 12, 2012

Penn State Must Get the Death Penalty

It's true that everyone makes mistakes that they have to learn from. Sometimes, the mistake is so big that the consequences forever alter that person's life. This is one of those mistakes. Penn State purposefully withheld information of two investigations of child rape from the police because Joe Paterno wanted to protect his friend and his legacy. The four most powerful men at Penn State covered up a horrendous act that forever altered the lives of 13 young men that we know of. Joe Paterno at any time during the the 14 years he knew of Sandusky's actions could have turned in his long time friend and prevented any more children being raped. But he did worse than nothing. He hid the truth.

We are now left with Joe Paterno dead, Jerry Sandusky in jail, and Gary Schulz and Tim Curley are awaiting trial for grand perjury. These men have damaged Penn State almost irreparably. It will be decades before Penn State is viewed in a positive light and left scars that will never go away. The only way to begin the healing process is to make a grand action. They must fall on their sword and suspend the football program for at least 3 years.

I am a college football fan. It is my absolute favorite sport. I understand how this would set the program back decades, just look at SMU. But this crime is beyond nefarious and the punishment must be as brutal as the crime. This is beyond lack of institutional control that the NCAA hammers schools for on a regular basis. Penn State will eventually have to go before the NCAA to answer four key questions as they beg for their football life. If Penn State had any intestinal fortitude they cancel the football program for a few years on their own before being forced to do so by the NCAA. But as we've seen so far with the higher ups of Penn State they only do the right thing when it's forced upon them.

I know how unfair it would be to the current players to get a death penalty. I know how many fans would be heartbroken to not get to go to Beaver Stadium on a Saturday to see them play. I was at Alabama when we were hammered in January of 2002. My year's at Alabama were some of the most miserable in the program's history. But violations were made by men that were no longer at the university and we had to pay the price. There is always collateral damage when someone breaks the rules.

A death penalty for Penn State wouldn't go back in time and prevent any of the rapes from occurring. A death penalty will not erase the stain of corruption that permeated Penn State for 14 years. But it is a punishment that must be handed down. There is no escaping the fact that Penn State and their athletic program were running the university. That is not what the purpose of higher education is. As silly as it seems for me to remind everyone, the purpose of college is to get an education that prepares you for a career. It is not the purpose of a college to have a great athletic department that produces championships.

It's time for someone to finally do the right thing. If Penn State had the cajones they would place their self on the death penalty for football and institute mass sanctions throughout the athletic department. But I think the all powerful hand of the NCAA will do the dirty work for them. Penn State's alma mater finishes with the words, "May no act of ours bring shame, to one heart that loves thy name, may our lives but swell thy fame, dear old State, dear old State." Their act of covering up this crime because they feared it would bring bad publicity has brought more shame on that university than they could have ever imagined. They have disgraced themselves and the university. It is time for them to pay a penance. It is time for them to be punished. And the only punishment that fits a crime so egregious, is the death penalty.

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