The NCAA finally reached its decision on what punishment Penn State should face following the school’s cover-up of sexual abuse:
The sanctions by the governing body of college sports, which capped eight months of turmoil on the central Pennsylvania campus, stopped short of delivering the ”death penalty” of shutting down the sport. But the NCAA hit Penn State with $60 million in fines, ordered it out of the postseason for four years, and will cap scholarships at 20 below the normal limit for four years.
Other sanctions five years’ probation, and the NCAA also said that any current or incoming football players are free to immediately transfer and compete at another school.
While this is not the “death penalty” — the shutting down of the football program — people feared, the sanctions have the same practical effect. The sanctions essentially make it impossible for players wanting to turn pro to stay at Penn State. Anyone interested in furthering their football career would go nowhere if they stayed at Penn State for the next four years. By allowing players to switch schools or keep their scholarships if they choose to stay at Penn State, the NCAA created the chance for other schools to make offers to the top and mid-range players. That effectively kills Penn State’s top-class team, so even they can compete in the regular season, they may not have a team they can win with.
The decision is not without unintended consequences. By stripping Paterno of all his wins between 1998 to 2011, all the players who played under Paterno during that time lost all their wins as well. Players who hoped to bank off the prestige of the school lose that chance now, particularly in the postseason games. Also, the lack of postseason games may hurt the local economy, which is built around the traffic Penn State brings in.
However, I think the decision was fair in that it punishes Penn State a way that university would actually care about. NCAA President Mark Emmert hopes that these sanctions will change the culture at Penn State, particularly the focus on the football program over children’s safety.
We will see whether that happens. The sanctions essentially strip the football program of its importance without taking it away, so maybe that will be the wake up call the university needs to get its act together.