Last week the question was whether the NCAA would decide to take action against Penn State University for the Jerry Sandusky molestation scandal? Since Sandusky was convicted on multiple counts of sexually abusing boys over a 15 year period, the debate has been if the NCAA had any jurisdiction in the matter, or if the scandal was strictly a legal matter to be decided by the courts.
We did not have to wait long to find out what the NCAA would do, because they acted swiftly and strongly handing down sanctions on Monday. Penn State will have to pay a $60 million fine. The money is reportedly going to fund some kind of program for abused children.
The football program will be banned from post-season play for four seasons. For the next four seasons the program can offer a maximum of 15 scholarships a season. The normal limit is 25 scholarships per season with a maximum of 85 players on scholarship at one time. Additionally, the football program had to vacate 111 wins from 1998 to 2011.
The latter action completes former coach Joe Paterno’s fall from grace. On Sunday his statue was removed from Beaver Stadium. Then on Monday he was removed as the all time winningest coach in college football history. With the wins from 1998-2011 vacated, Paterno moves from 409 wins to 298, dropping him from first to 12th on the winningest NCAA football coach list. Penn State will also have six bowl wins and two conference championships erased.
Current PSU players will have the option to transfer to another school and have immediate eligibility. This is where the debate gets interesting. Many make a legitimate point that the current players are being punished for deeds done by others. There is also the opinion that the NCAA has overstepped its bounds and is setting a dangerous precedent. Whatever side of the debate you may be on, it does not appear that Penn State is going to fight the sanctions.
Penn State, in a statement released less than an hour after the NCAA sanctions were revealed, said it will accept them and that the "ruling holds the university accountable for the failure of those in power to protect children and insists that all areas of the university community are held to the same high standards of honesty and integrity."
The word unprecedented is the apt word for the events that have led us to here. Many Penn State fans are defending Paterno and others in forums and on message boards. To some degree that is understandable, but probably not the way to play it.
Trying to walk a mile in a Penn State fan’s shoes leads me to this conclusion. I think as upset as I would be with the quick fall from grace the late Paterno suffered, it would be very hard to try and defend him given the evidence listed in the Freeh Report.