Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Penn State sanctions a tough call

I've had a little more than a day to try to digest the NCAA's sanctions against Penn State over the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case and I'm still not completely sure where I stand.

Among the penalties the NCAA hit Penn State starts with a $60 million fine (about the amount of one year's football revenue) that would go to outside programs devoted to preventing child sex abuse; a postseason ban for the next four seasons; the loss of a number of scholarships over the next four years; and the wiping out of Penn State's 111 victories from 1998-2011. Taking away those wins cost legendary coach Joe Paterno his place as college football's all-time winningest coach.

I completely understand the argument from those who liked what the NCAA did and those who disagree with it.

In the for category, severe sanctions had to be taken and could have resulted in the suspension of the program in its entirety for a specified/unspecified period of time (known in college athletic circles as the 'death penalty.') Those in favor called the sanctions both punitive and corrective, and they make a good case. The actions of Sandusky (Paterno's former defensive coordinator) were heinous enough before you begin to add the non-actions/cover-up of those in power in the wake of the Sandusky scandal at State College.

In the against category, a solid case can be made that these sanctions (with the exception of the money) do nothing to help the victims of this crime. With Sandusky in prison presumably for the rest of his life, Paterno dead and those who were in power above him all no longer at Penn State, an argument can also be made that with the loss of scholarships and the postseason ban, the NCAA is further punishing the innocent players and student who had nothing to do with the case.

Both sides make strong cases, but the bottom line is no matter what the sanctions were or weren't, nothing the NCAA or Penn State itself could completely make up for what Sandusky did to those young boys in the shower and locker room at Penn State.

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