Don’t punish these kids for something that a handful of people did in the past. It’s not a football issue, it’s a university issue.
The portion of the general public and media that believe that the Penn State football program should not be punished for the systemic breakdown in Happy Valley are well-intentioned, but still aren’t seeing reality.
I pose this question – How is it not a football issue?
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A football assistant coach repeatedly molested children – often times in the football facilities – while luring those children to the facilities by using the football program’s mystique as bait. Then, when the leaders of that program found out it was happening, they turned a blind eye and allowed it to continue to happen on their watch.
Joe Paterno, the head coach of the football team and most powerful man on campus, allowed Jerry Sandusky access to his facilities after he was well aware that the man was a pedophile. Tim Curley, the school’s athletic director (who by the way, still hasn’t been fired?) knew that Sandusky had been showering with boys in the football locker rooms and did nothing to prevent it from happening again.
The head coach of the football team and the athletic director – who’s biggest focus was on football, considering it’s the school’s biggest meal ticket – stood by and did nothing while their program created a safety-net for child molestation.
Sounds pretty much like a football issue to me. It’s the football program that allowed this scandal to take place. Sure, the university as a whole is culpable, but the actual acts in question began and continued for a decade due to the football program.
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Of course, it is more than a football issue. There is truth to the fact that it’s a universityproblem as well, and Penn State as a whole will get what’s coming to it thanks to countless law suits, a revamped administration, likely jail time for those involved in the scandal and a stain on the Penn State brand that won’t ever be removed.
But those penalties aren’t enough to wash away what the football program started. There’s only one logical move that drives home the severity of what happened at Penn State. Though no punishment could really fit the crime in this instance, the best the NCAA can do is give out the harshest punishment it can – the death penalty.
Penn State should not play football this season. I don’t really see how it can be argued any other way. If Southern Methodist University got the death penalty in 1987 for under the table payments, how can the NCAA not provide at least the same treatment to Penn State for something far worse than a few corvettes and some extra cash.
Yeah, it would suck for Bill O’Brien and the players at Penn State who have zero connection to Sandusky or the scandal itself. They’re just a bunch of 18-year-old kids who want to play football. But so what? They’ll live. They’ll transfer, or they’ll stay and play next year. It’s not as if cancelling football for one season is going to cripple the hopes and dreams of the kids who went to Penn State to play football.
If they’re good enough, they’ll still go to the NFL. If they want to play, I’m sure they’ll be granted an exemption to be able to transfer to another university without having to sit out a year. The kids at Penn State will be just fine, even if they’re put in a less than ideal situation.
To simply allow the football program to continue to play as if nothing happened is hypocrisy the utmost degree. Think about all the schools that John Calipari has coached at, or the University of Miami’s football program. Think about all the sanctions that are routinely handed down to a school due to the coach and to the sins of former players.
Those sanctions end up hurting the new coach and the new players, but the NCAA does it anyway. Are the people currently at Ohio State responsible for the way that Terrelle Pryor and Jim Tressel behaved during their time there? No, but there’s a bowl ban in place anyway for the Buckeyes. Why? Because it’s the only way the NCAA can punish people for their wrong doings.
Players are only in college for a short period of time, and the NCAA doesn’t have the ability to enforce penalties on players once they leave the school. Pryor can’t be banned by the NCAA from playing the NFL.
So what does the NCAA do? It punishes teams and players in the present day for the wrongs of former players and coaches. It’s a shame, but that’s the only power the NCAA has. If it didn’t enforce those types of sanctions, there would be no penalties for the violations whatsoever.
It should be no different at Penn State. This wasn’t a tattoo scandal, or a failure to alert a compliance officer that your quarterback was taking some cash under the table. No. This was a child abuse scandal, and a failure to alert the proper authorities that kids were being molested in your facilities.
That should put it in perspective, and make the decision by the NCAA pretty damn easy. It’s established a track record for retroactively punishing universities for “crimes” that can be considered low grade at best. No one gets hurt when a player accepts a few extra dollars while in college, yet the NCAA cracks down. Well people got hurt at Penn State. Lives were altered. The school, the kids who were molested, the people involved – none of them will ever be the same.
It’s perhaps the biggest sports scandal of our lifetime. It needs to be treated that way by the body that governs college athletics.
Not a football issue? It’s the largest football issue in memory. Not letting the program play football for a year won’t make up for what happened there, but it’s the harshest thing that can be done.
Shut down Penn State football. It’s the only thing that makes sense.