Fairness irrelevant to Penn State penalties
Published: Friday, August 10, 2012
Updated: Friday, August 10, 2012 20:08
Last month the NCAA announced unprecedented sanctions against Penn State and the Nittany Lions, including a $60 million fine and a 4-year postseason ban in response to the child sexual abuse scandal involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.
Fittingly, the money from the fine will be placed into an endowment for programs that work to prevent child sexual abuse and assist victims. Sanctions against Penn State also include the loss of 10 scholarships per year for four years, the vacation of all victories from 1998 to 2011 and the university’s placement on probation for five years.
Penn State’s cooperation and acceptance of the penalties has been called “remarkable.” Well I should hope so in the wake of this horrific scandal. Don’t get me wrong, the university’s response is commendable, but also expected. Anything less would be added disgrace to a program already dishonored.
Some people believe that the penalties the NCAA gave Penn State were unfair or too severe. I think we can all agree that this scandal isn’t about what’s fair. It’s not fair to allow young boys to be repeatedly sexually assaulted. The sad fact of the matter is that some of Sandusky’s attacks were preventable.
A report conducted by former F.B.I. director Louis J. Freeh revealed a series of failures throughout the university’s leadership to report Sandusky going back more than a decade. The report concluded that the motive for the Sandusky cover-up was to shield the university and its football program from negative publicity. The release of a grand jury report detailing Sandusky’s actions last November resulted in the firing of Paterno, the removal of the university’s president, Graham B. Spanier, former vice president Gary Schultz and former athletic director Tim Curley.
The people whose actions or inactions enabled Sandusky’s many attacks are beyond the NCAA’s realm of punishment. All that’s left is the school and the football program that the scandal will forever be linked to. The new Penn State coach, Bill O’Brien, knew what he was getting involved in when he took the position. The players are free to transfer to other schools. Only the victims of this tragedy are unable to escape the consequences of the Sandusky cover-up.
Instead of debating the fairness of this unfortunate situation, we need to learn from it. Cover-ups don’t work. Inaction can be as damaging as action. Too many people are focusing on the football program, which is exactly why this atrocity happened in the first place.
Hopefully the sanctions will bring some closure and enable Penn State to rebuild a new program, free from scandal. It’s important now to show continued support for Sandusky’s victims and hope that this situation will never be repeated again.