The lesson to be learned from harsh penalties handed out by the NCAA in the Penn State child abuse scandal is a very important one.
The Win at All Costs mentality at major universities has to be stopped.
Yes, the football programs bring in a lot of money. Bending the rules at times can be expected. But ignoring a grevious offense like the Jerry Sandusky scandal cannot be tolerated.
The football program cannot be bigger than the university. I guess it takes something this terrible to drive the point home.
The NCAA came down very hard on Penn State and legendary coach Joe Paterno as it should. It’s hard to imagine anything worse than this, so the Penn State president at the time, the winningest college football coach of all time and others in authority had to be disciplined in unprecedented fashion.
“There is incredible interest in what will happen to Penn State football,” said Ed Ray, chairman of the NCAA Executive Committee. “But the fundamental chapter of this horrific story should focus on the innocent children and the powerful people who let them down.”
Penn State is unlikely to be a major factor in college football for the next four years. The team won’t be eligible for a bowl game and will operate with a severe disadvantage in recruiting.
Present players have been made eligible to transfer without sitting out a year. Penn State can bring in only 15 players a year instead of 25. The Nittany Lions aren’t eligible for the Big Ten championship game and the program will lose its annual revenue from bowl games.
Then there’s the $60 million sanction which requires the school to fund programs preventing child sexual abuse. The NCAA said $60 million was chosen because it’s the amount of revenue that annually came from the football program.
Finally, there’s the elimination of Paterno’s wins since the Sandusky scandal began in 1998, so he isn’t even in the top ten anymore.
Some former Penn State players have come forward to say Paterno taught them a lot about life. They criticize the NCAA for its actions.
But the university agreed to the penalties, and that says a lot. The Paterno statue at Penn State has been removed too and that also says a lot.
Penn State’s football program is in worse shape than USC was two years ago. The Trojans survived a two-year ban from bowl games and were penalized 10 scholarships for each of three years.
Coach Lane Kiffin managed his roster expertly. The Trojans weren’t quite elite as the scholarship reductions altered their depth but they were still pretty good. Kiffin had less scholarships to offer but he kept getting star players.
It’s doubtful that Penn State will get nearly as many elite players.
Former coach Lou Holtz outlines the task of new Penn State coach Bill O’Brien. He says O’Brien must sell recruits on the quality of a Penn State education and the availability of playing time.
Doubtlessly some recruits will buy into that, but this isn’t like USC quarterback Matt Barkley deciding to stay and surviving two years. This will be the entire four years of a recruit going without a bowl game, so it’ll be quite a sacrifice for any player who makes that choice.
There’s a new Penn state president now and Rodney Erickson said “our thoughts and prayers go to victims of Mr. Sandusky and all other victims of child abuse.”
It might be the saddest story in the history of college football.