NCAA punishes Penn State

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.

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5 thoughts on “NCAA punishes Penn State

  1. This kind of accountability has been sorely lacking at all levels, in sports. Needs to happen more often

  2. I think some of the punishments end up penalizing too many innocent individuals. I would have much preferred some sort of criminal reckoning for the adults in question(though obviously not possible).

  3. I think some of the punishments end up penalizing too many innocent individuals.

    I can see that, however, I also think this is the only way to send a message to Penn State and other schools that this will not be tolerated. I think this was the right discussion because there is a culture in college football that the sport is more important than anything else. This could have, and probably does, happen at any other school. Hopefully this makes people rethink that “winning over everything” attitude.

  4. 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.

    I don’t know much about college football in the US (and by that I mean nothing) I wonder if this will have a major practical impact for individual players (as innocent third parties). Won’t any scouts or future employees glean towards the actual wins that player had rather than the official statistics from NCAA? Especially when this case is so high-profile I’d suspect anyone in the business of scouting and hiring players would know that the number of wins on the NCAA record for a player who played for Penn State between 1998 and 2011 is not a reflection of how good a player he is? It’s not like the NCAA will be able to erase from all human knowledge which wins Penn State had in that time period.

  5. Tamen, I think that was the point behind letting players keep their scholarships if they wanted to leave Penn State. Their wins have been wiped out on the official records, but everyone still knows what happened, and anyone interested in those players now have the chance to woo them.

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