Judgement Day

“The historically unprecedented actions by the NCAA today are warranted by the conspiracy of silence that was maintained at the highest levels of the university in reckless and callous disregard for the children.” -Ed Ray, Chairman NCAA Executive Committee

The statue of Joe Paterno was removed from prominence on the Penn State campus yesterday.  And today the NCAA followed suit with his record.  The governing body of college sports promised unprecedented penalties against Penn State University.  And this morning, they delivered:

  • Four year ban on bowl games
  • Reduction in scholarships from 25 to 15 over next four years
  • $60 million fine (one year gross revenue of PSU football team)
  • Wins from 1998-2011 wiped out (removes 111 wins, Paterno loses coaching record)
  • All current players allowed to transfer penalty free
  • Five years probation

Not exactly the death penalty some were calling for, but the football program is certainly on life support.  And it will be for some time.  Ed Ray, President of Oregon State and Chair of the NCAA Executive Committee summarized the ruling, “It should be a wake up call to everyone in college sports that our first responsibility…is to respect, fairness, civility, honesty…”

Do colleges and universities have too much power?  Who is overseeing the activities of academic institutions?  Have sports trumped educational value?  These are just some of the questions left in the wake of the Penn State scandal.  Mark Emmert, President of the NCAA acknowledged as much.

“One of the grave dangers stemming from our love of sports is that the sports themselves can become ‘too big to fail,’ or even too big to challenge.  The result can be an erosion of academic values that are replaced by the value of hero worship and winning at all costs.  All involved in intercollegiate athletics must be watchful that programs and individuals do not overwhelm the values of higher education.”

Funds from the fine will go toward an endowment run by the university to detect, treat, and prevent child abuse.  Is it enough?  Of course not.  Emmert acknowledged that no price can be put on the damage victims suffered at the hands of Jerry Sandusky.

“No matter what we do here, there is no action we can take that will remove their pain and anguish.  But, what we can do is impose sanctions that both reflect the magnitude of these terrible acts and that also ensure Penn State will rebuild an athletic culture that went horribly awry.”

…And left many victims in its path.  Fallout from the scandal has already had a devastating impact on those with ties to the school…players, students, staff, alumni, and fans of Penn State University.  But all pale in comparison to the lives of innocent children, changed forever by the crimes committed by Jerry Sandusky and the school’s refusal to acknowledge them.  For all the talk of Nittany Lion football and how it will rebuild, let us keep one thing in mind.  It was about them.  And it still is.  Rebuilding a football team is one thing.  Rebuilding lives…another.