The NCAA stepped up today and did the right, moral, courageous thing and whacked Penn State where it hurt:  Their football team, their pocketbook, their history and their future.

The punishment also included the loss of some scholarships over four years and the vacating of all of the team’s victories from 1998 to 2011, but stopped short of forcing the university to shut down the football team for a season or more, the so-called death penalty.

Still, the penalties are serious enough that it is expected to take Penn State’s football program, one of the most successful in the country, years before it will be able to return to the sport’s top echelon.

I have zero sympathy for Penn State.  That university entirely failed as an institution — football was more important than child safety — and today their reckoning has become them.

Some are concerned about the abandoned football players.  I am not.  The players have choices.  They can stay and play for Penn State, or they can get up and transfer to another program without penalty.

The children Sandusky abused — and those crimes Paterno and Penn State covered up and hushed down for over a decade — had zero choice.  Those kids were immorally acted upon and then willfully betrayed by the university.  Today, Penn State begins to pay down their sin while the children can never regain the innocence they had before Sandusky first touched them.

The complete erasure of Joe Paterno from Penn State has also started.  His life-sized statue was removed from campus over the weekend and, this morning, the NCAA removed all of his wins between 1998-2011.

Penn State said last week they planned to leave the Paterno name on their library — but I bet that wrong decision will not last much longer.  I’m sure the reason the university is loathe to remove the name is because they’d have to repay the Paterno family for what Joe donated for the naming rights — but even if that payback fee would be $6 million  or more — it is worth every cent to get that man’s name flayed from every public edifice and private façade of Penn State University.

History will not treat Paterno kindly in any realm, and to stick by that man now — even in name alone — can no longer be tolerated by the university because justice demands Paterno’s evergreen punishment.

4 Comments

    1. I think the death penalty will never be used again. It devastated SMU and almost killed the entire football program — the NCAA knows they went too far. It’s much better to punish to the absolute point of death — but allow the team to continue to play on life support with inferior changes and middling players. Then the lesson is made daily instead of being put on pause and then forgotten. Every game Penn State plays this year will reflect the penalties discussion over and over and over again. Kill them for a year and nobody talks about it again.

      As I understand it, Gordon, the victories are erased in the official NCAA record, but records of the other schools don’t change:

      Compare this:
      2011 – Univ. of A*
      2010 – B State Univ.*
      2009 – C College*
      2008 – D Univ.*

      With this:
      2011 – (vacated)
      2010 – (vacated)
      2009 – (vacated)
      2008 – (vacated)

      If championships won through cheating are this common, the asterisk ceases to be a scarlet letter. Instead, it becomes a badge of honor that these schools were willing to go above and beyond for their fans, and a smirking reminder that they got away with it. If you’re trying to teach a lesson to future generations or make the case for reform, the second list, with no or few champions over an extended period, is a much more powerful indicator of a troubled sport.

      If I have one complaint about the current way victories are vacated, it is that losses should be vacated to. Back to theory, you lose a game when your opponent achieves victory. Since your opponent did not actually win the game, you did not actually lose it. You still didn’t win though, because you didn’t meet the requirements either. So when a game is vacated, both the victory and the loss should be erased from the records of the teams. Personal records should stay though, since all the eligible players met the requirements to score those points, make those assists, and grab those rebounds. Yes, stats from a game with no winner or loser. Theory is still messy that way.

      http://www.ncaa.org/blog/2011/06/the-theory-and-practice-of-vacating-games/