Through half-open sleepy eyes, those of us on the west coast watched NCAA president Mark Emmert and Ed Ray, chairman of the NCAA’s executive committee, drop an atomic bomb on Penn State University this morning.
Penn State must pay $60 million to an endowment to help fight child abuse. They must forfeit 10 valuable scholarships and won’t be allowed to go to a bowl game for the next four years.
And the Nittany Lions must forfeit all 111 wins accumulated from 1998 to 2011, the length of the investigation of Jerry Sandusky.
And they deserve every bit of this penalty. Probably more.
A message needed to be sent to everyone watching, especially other schools around the country, that football should not and can not be put above all else. Football has taken over this country and it was time for someone to knock it down. People need to realize there are more important things that football.
Emmert was very specific about why the sanctions were so heavy:
“The sanctions needed to reflect our goals to provide cultural change.”
“Football will never again be placed ahead of educating, nurturing and protecting young people.”
Ray spoke to people thinking solely about the football program:
“There is incredible interest in what will happen to Penn State football. But the fundamental chapter of this horrific story should focus on the innocent children and the powerful people who let them down.”
Students at Penn State might have a hard to accepting it, but the people in power at their university put their names, their reputation, their friend and their comfort ahead of protecting the children of the community.
They are paying for the poor choices of a handful of people. Oh well.
These students idolized a man, Joe Paterno, who wasn’t a saint. Other people had more prestigious job titles, but Paterno was the most powerful person on that campus and he did nothing. He doesn’t deserve to have a statue anywhere. With 111 wins vacated, he’s no longer the all-time leader in coaching wins. Now, he’s just one big loser.
We had heard a lot about a potential “death penalty” for the football program, essentially suspending the operation of the program for a certain period of time. While that didn’t happen, the sanctions handed down act as a modified death penalty.
The reduction of scholarships and ban from bowl games for the next four years is going to gut the football team. Players on the team right now will have the ability to transfer without having to sit out a year. Some players will stay, but there is no doubt that some will leave, hoping to showcase their talents in a bowl game or two.
Current recruits will de-commit faster than they signed their letters of intent. High school freshmen, sophomores and juniors with any interest in playing competitive football at a high level won’t even consider Penn State for a few years.
High school football players want a chance to play in bowl games and possibly a National Championship. That’s not an option for at least four years. And anyone who thinks the Nittany Lions will be back in a bowl game five years from now is dreaming.
Let this be a lesson to coaches around the country. If you’re caught protecting yourself, your coaches or your program instead of thinking about the well-being of members of your community, the NCAA won’t hesitate to destroy you and your program.