In the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal, Penn State University has finally been reprimanded. They have been penalized, essentially twice, corrective and symbolic. Yesterday, Penn State University has finally concluded to the removal of the statue of former longtime Penn State head coach Joe Paterno due to his involvement. Today, hours after the statue was removed, the NCAA announced the “unprecedented penalties” that the university will be facing because of the child sexual abuse by assistant coach Sandusky and the ensuing cover up by numerous university personnel. Perhaps the most significant of the penalties is the loss of all Paterno victories from 1998 to 2011. Today, the NCAA also said Penn State will be fined $60 million, lose 10 scholarships and they will be banned from bowl games for four years. The removal of the Paterno statue was an eerie precursor to what could have very well been the removal of the football program. It instead did show Paterno’s fall from the all-time win list, which Paterno was on top of. Sandusky is the sole person at the university that has been responsible and convicted of the sexual abuse of several boys since the 1990s, but as a whole, the Penn State University’s sentence this morning is holding them accountable for it to have continued for so long.
Penn State University has been under constant pressure to remove the statue of Joe Paterno that sits just outside of their football stadium. It was there to show how great of a coach Joe Paterno was and how great of a football program Penn State has had. Former FBI director Louis Freech recently released a report that said Paterno, and other university administrators, failed to protect and concealed the fact that they knew about the abuse of little boys by Jerry Sandusky. Many people who were calling for the statue of Paterno to be taken down are not differentiating the two lives, that Paterno apparently lived, the brilliant football coach and the Penn State official who said nothing after finding out that one of his coaches sexually abused children. In which case, it would seem that Paterno is two-faced just like Sandusky. Probably not to the same degree, but people have been convicted just over information that they knew. And it’s because of that information that he knew, and did nothing of, is the reason why Penn State is facing stiff disciplinary action.
So what could have happened to Penn State Monday morning? The NCAA could have decided to strip them of more scholarships, bowl game wins, championships, in fact, every achievement Penn State football has made over the past decade could’ve been up in the air. When the “corrective and punitive measures” were announced Monday, there’s a chance that the NCAA could have sought out the college football “death penalty” whereas the program could have been banned from play for at least one season. That has happened only once in college football history where Southern Methodist University football program was banned for two years in the 1980s for several violations including players receiving compensation, a big no-no in college football. But that’s just Southern Methodist, not the largest or best know college football program. Just a few years ago the University of Southern California lost scholarships and postseason play after they broke some rules. Fortunately enough for them, Penn State did not get the death penalty, they will live to play another day. But as harsh as the punishment Penn State did receive, players, coaches and fans alike are looking forward to college football’s 2013 season. It could have been worse.
Not for nothin’, but I could care less if Penn State University would have been able to play football next year, the next two years or the next decade for that matter. There’s an argument that says why should football players and coaches who had nothing to do with this scandal be penalized. They didn’t have anything to do with it. Well, as it’s starting to look like more and more people knew about it and did nothing, they kind of ruined it for everyone. Supporters of Paterno disagree with the removal of his statue because of his merit as a coach. But his worth as a representative of Penn State University, devalues what he has meant. And because of his inactions, dozens of lives are negatively affected in one of the worst ways forever. That significantly devalues his appeal to college football and Penn State University. It’s not all about winning, Penn State. So to me, the penalties sanctioned today are completely warranted, and the program will be lucky if that’s the only wrath they face.