Monday, July 23, 2012

The NCAA Did the Right Thing

The NCAA absolutely did the right thing in punishing Penn State the way they did. Penn State was hit with a loss of 10 scholarships per year and a max of 65 scholarships for the next four years as well as a four year postseason ban and a $60 million dollar fine. The biggest blow to the Penn State was the vacation of all football wins from 1998 through 2011. This knocks Joe Paterno from Division I's all time winningest coach to 8th all time in Division I-A. It erases the one thing that Joe Paterno strived for in a lasting legacy as the winningest major college football coach.

The punishment was more than just and fair. The entire university structure was compromised for the advancement of the football program. The well being of at least 13 young boys was compromised by men who should have been there to protect them. These men are all out of power now and have lost their influence at Penn State. This was a textbook example of lack of institutional control. Something had to be done to show that this type of corruption would not be tolerated by the NCAA. That something was to cripple the program as much as possible without giving it the death penalty.

This was an unprecedented situation in the history of the NCAA. The only thing that is somewhat relatable is how high up the corruption went up at SMU but that was for improper benefits. This was to protect a football program and a man whose soul goal was to break the all-time record for wins in Division I football. He used this coverup for an improper benefit for him and the Penn State football program. The coverup allowed the entire football program to benefit for 14 years by getting more wins for Paterno and more prestige for the program. Meanwhile a man continued to molest young boys on school property and was caught at least one other time by Penn State staff. Joe Paterno had such great power that even the janitors feared turning in Jerry Sandusky because they thought Joe Paterno would fire them.

This punishment will affect many people who had absolutely nothing to do with the coverup. Major coverups always tend to have massive amounts of collateral damage. Enron, Healthsouth, and other corporate scandals all impacted the employees whose bosses put profits before people. Joe Paterno, Presidetn Graham Spanier, athletic director Tim Curley, and school vice president Gary Schultz all put Jerry Sandusky and the image of Penn State before the welfare of young boys. Their unfortunate actions hurt the entire Penn State faculty and student body.

The fans of Penn State are going to endure the roughest years seen by any football program since SMU. But the fans are responsible for this environment of deification of Joe Paterno. They made him an all-powerful person whose judgement and decisions were never questioned. They will have to suffer these hard times much like the citizens of Germany had to suffer the aftermath of their duly elected officials after 1945. It will be very difficult for Penn State to recover from this and they may never truly recover from this blow. The fans of Penn State will be unable to wear any Penn State paraphernalia without others thinking about the Sandusky scandal.

The current and future Penn State players are going to be miserable because of the actions of those four men. They will never know the joy of playing in a bowl game and never get a chance to be a Big Ten champion. They will probably play before a half full stadium and a student body that does not care for a losing football team. Does this seem unfair? No because they can choose to stay at Penn State or leave. Those 13 victims had no choice about being molested.

I think the thing that most people seem to forget are the victims. As horrible as these punishments are for Penn State, they will never bring back the innocence lost by the 13 victims. Four men put the well being of these young men at risk because they cared more about winning football games. These four men thought more of themselves and protecting a child molester than doing the right thing by turning him in. They violated not only university policies but federal ones as well. And they did so all in the name of football.

Will the NCAA ever hand down a punishment this swiftly and quickly without launching a full investigation again? Probably not. I don't think this is a dangerous precedent being set. This was a very unique circumstance and quick, harsh action needed to be done. The NCAA did the right thing in going after the university that fostered this type of environment. Many people will be affected for the next 20 years at least. The NCAA has shown that their true purpose is to be a place where academics are superior to athletics. The NCAA took an action that shows they are no longer going to allow coaches to act as benevolent despots in their respective universities. The NCAA did the right thing.

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