Rumored PSU penalties too harsh

Posted: July 22, 2012 by socklessjoe in News

I’m seeing speculation online that the NCAA will be hitting the Penn State football program with a 5 to 7 year bowl suspension and reduced scholarships for 7 years. I also saw a separate report of a monetary fine in the tens of millions of dollars. This is too harsh.

Edit: 7/23, 9:30 pm ish: As everybody now knows, the penalties include a four year bowl ban, four year reduction in scholarships, a 60 million dollar fine, five years probation, and vacating of all wins going back through 1998.  I stand by my assessment that this is too harsh.

No, I’m not trying to be an apologist for those who would cover up child rape. Frankly, I think people like Jerry Sandusky ought to face the death penalty. You know, the real death penalty, where the government puts a permanent end to your oxygen consumption. As for the rest of them, the people who were involved in the coverup are either dead, in jail, or out of PSU and facing potential jail time of their own.

Basically, there’s nobody left at PSU to punish who was actually involved with the coverup.

A posthumously published letter supposedly written by Joe Paterno asserted that this scandal wasn’t about football. Well, it is to the extent that nobody covers up child rape for people who aren’t involved with important sports programs, but it really didn’t involve the operation of the program itself.

This reeks of a power-grab by the NCAA to assert its authority into an area outside its jurisdiction. By doing what it appears it will do Monday morning, the NCAA is punishing a whole lot of people who had nothing to do with Sandusky’s crimes while failing to punish anybody who actually DID have something to do with the coverup.

Those outside of the “Penn State community” – an amorphous term that describes not only the current students, faculty, and employees, but generations of alumni, and pretty much anybody living within a fifty mile radius of College Township – largely do not understand why some people are being defensive of the PSU football program and JoePa’s legacy. The football program has been popular for reasons other than winning, remaining reasonably popular even in lousy seasons. Joe Paterno –JoePa– should by all rights have been let go years ago, but was allowed to remain in large part because the community loved him. The football program itself was a largely clean program, and JoePa always emphasized the academic performance of team members, a pride validated by the academic statistics. JoePa was loved because the community saw him as a good and decent man. He was not just some son of a bitch who won football games by any means necessary, he was viewed as a throwback to a more noble and sportsmanlike era. That some continue to defend Paterno is largely a result of the incomprehensible incongruity between the JoePa persona and the Joe Paterno of the Freeh report.

The “culture” of the Penn State community is that people appreciated a clean program that performed reasonably well.  This is what the NCAA intends to punish.

To the extent that the NCAA wants to punish rabid college sports fandom, I think they might as well take the George Will position that multi-million dollar sports franchises have no business being attached to institutions of higher learning, and the NCAA ought to try to put itself out of business by eliminating college sports altogether.

(Note: I will not get an opportunity to update or edit this post for many hours after the official NCAA punishment is announced. Please comment accordingly.)

Addendum: 7/23, 9:30pm-ish: I basically stand by the observation that the NCAA is inflicting a lot of collateral damage against people who had nothing to do with this and really can’t punish those who did.  The vacating of wins strikes me as just plain silly, an arrogant and pathetic attempt to literally re-write history.

  1. chad98036 says:

    I completely disagree.

    Your argument that the NCAA will only be punishing people who weren’t associated with the scandal is the same argument that is used whenever there are recruiting violations or charges of players accepting gifts or whatever. If it doesn’t wash there it shouldn’t wash here. The entire reason for the coverup was to protect a) the reputation of the Penn State program, b) Joe Paterno’s reputation, and c) recruiting at Penn State. All of those are intimately tied to the football program. So yeah it should be punished as harshly as possible. If I had it my way the would also plow under the stadium and salt the earth and then dig up Paterno and plant his head on a spike where the stadium used to be like they did with Oliver Cromwell.

    • Sockless Joe says:

      Had this all come out years earlier and the University taken a harsh stance- had the 1998 investigation gone anywhere, or even after the incident witnessed by Mike McQueary- the impact on the program would have been minimal. Probably one bad year of recruiting.

      In any case, is this more or less “about football” than the sort of behavior that has led to the death penalty in the past? Is this (as of yet merely rumored) punishment, which is not unreasonably characterized as worse than the death penalty appropriate relative to how much it was or wasn’t about football

  2. alexthechick says:

    I have yet to hear anyone, I mean anyone at all, either on the various sports shows or online, discuss what is going to happen to the current PSU football players. Are they going to be getting a free transfer without the year penalty? Are they going to be allowed to keep their scholarships? Seriously, what about those kids who did absolutely nothing wrong? There hasn’t been a lick of speculation what is going to happen to players who had nothing to do with this and who are going to be the ones who actually pay the price.

    • chad98036 says:

      The NCAA says they will attempt to mitigate the impact on the players. I don’t know what exactly that means, maybe an opportunity to accept scholarships at different schools or something but they are at least paying lip service to the problem.

    • aliceaitch says:

      Yes, they’re getting a free transfer. They can even keep their scholarships and not play if they don’t want to play for Penn State. If I recall correctly, this extends to all athletes, not just football players.

  3. chad98036 says:

    Just read the sanctions and they are harsh but they did attempt to mitigate for the players.

  4. Roman Polanski says:

    These witch hunts have to end. A more enlightened society would see this sexy scandal for what it is, boys being boys, and occasionally men doing boys. I’m glad I live in Europe where this type of behavior is dismissed, at least if you’re an artist.

  5. Mitchell says:

    If you don’t like what the NCAA is doing then you can always look away and pretend it’s not happening. (Stolen from somebody else).

  6. Russ from Winterset says:

    Current penalties? Just about right. The only thing I might do is to dig up Joe Paterno’s corpse, drill a hole in the side of his skull, and let any of Jerry Sandusky’s victims who might feel the need skullfuck that blind old douchebag one last time before the seal the coffin back up again.

  7. veeshir says:

    Edit: 7/23,
    Man, don’t go and ruin a good moron post by actually reading what you’re talking about.

  8. David Navarre says:

    If this had happened in the history department, no one would have consulted the department head or the Dean of Social Science. The police and the community allowed this and who knows what else to be ignored or covered up. Now, if something fishy happens in Ann Arbor or Boise or College Park, everyone who would have given the Coach the benefit of the doubt is going to think twice. No one who enables big time college sports will be smug and carefree. You don’t get a slap on the wrist, you get 10 years of non-championship teams.

    Some players will suffer. Others will start instead of riding the bench due to stars transferring out. It’s the price to paid to send the message and prevent any recurrence.

    • MikeD says:

      And it’s the last part, David, that is the only thing that bothers me. College kids who had nothing to do with this whole sordid business (kids who go to other schools even) are going to have their shots at the NFL destroyed because of this. And that’s just shitty.

      • David Navarre says:

        Mike, while Penn State does graduate a lot of players who go on to the NFL (6-7 a year, based on how many were in 2011 NFL training camps), this does not inhibit them from making it to the NFL. The 20-25 current players who may play in the NFL in the future can either transfer or stick around and get more playing time when those who transfer leave.

        If you’re a senior who is good enough for the NFL, you can find at least one university to start for in the fall, since you’d have to be in the top 20 at your position and there are over 100 universities with football programs. If you stay, you will stay play football and just because you can’t play in a bowl game doesn’t mean you won’t have the chance to play in the NFL.

        So, no, their shots at the NFL are not destroyed. The NCAA did not prohibit them from playing, either at Penn State or elsewhere.

        How else do you convince the Penn State community AND every other one that looking the other way won’t be tolerated?

        • MikeD says:

          Let me be clearer. Admittedly, I don’t follow college football, so forgive me for not knowing actual player names. But let’s say the PSU QB Joe Smith decides to bail and go to Michigan (and they take him). Their QB Frank Jones gets bumped to the bench and Joe Smith is now the starting QB for Michigan. Due to no fault of his own (or anything he had an ounce of control over) Frank Jones now has a much reduced chance for the NFL as he now goes to the draft, not as Frank Jones starting QB from Michigan, but Frank Jones, the backup for Joe Smith.

          I’m not saying “don’t punish PSU”. I don’t give a rats ass about PSU or their football program. I’m saying, “don’t fuck up Frank Smith.”

          • David Navarre says:

            That makes far more sense, Mike. I expect that if Smith would bump Jones, then it’s likely Jones would never had been drafted into the NFL. Remember, the college team that adds those players knows who they already have, the affect that replacing their current starter will have on morale (huge role in college football) and is making a guess on how good Smith plays. If Jones had any reasonable chance of playing in the NFL (i.e. was in the top 20 QBs in college football), I’m guessing that they wouldn’t bring in Smith.

            Don’t forget the nearly random bonus that comes to John Doe, who would go from backing up Joe Smith to starting at PSU.

            That said, it would suck to be Jones anyway, as at the very least, his dreams of playing in the NFL would be crushed a year earlier than they ought to be and even if didn’t have those, the joy of being the starting QB at Michigan would elude him. I’d feel sorry for him, but I think the punishment to PSU has to be severe to reduce the likelihood of future criminal actions.

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