Today, everyone without a bathroom full of navy-and-white face paint was screaming for the Penn State football program to get the death penalty. There was no question it deserved it. The NCAA was fine with immolating a SMU football program for merely paying pocket money to students for playing football. It should have had zero remorse about leaving a mushroom cloud hanging over Beaver Stadium for the next four years. That would have been about a one-game ban for every crime for which that monster Sandusky was convicted. If the NCAA had imposed a ban like that, as well as the penalties levied this morning, it would have sent an earthshaking mandate that decency and humanity take precedent before college sports.
And if there was ever a time for a university to receive an Old Testament, wrath-of-God type punishment, this was it. You could practically hear Roger Goodell begging the NCAA to let him do it. Because quite honestly, the day former FBI Chief Louis Freeh published his finding on the Penn StateJerry Sandusky sex-abuse scandal, the NCAA should have been plotting the path from Beaver Stadium to the gallows pole.
Unfortunately for every right-minded individual who follows college sports, the NCAA refused to do what was right and warranted. It chose to simply do what was, easy, expeditious and -- most dubiously -- what PSU itself almost instantly agreed to. Make no mistake, this wasnt an unprecedented set of penalties. This was plea agreement of convenience.
Because a governing body that needed the public to perceive its justice as swift and punitive, and a shamed and disgraced university that wanted to salvage its reviled football team, still shared one common interest: Making sure the football money kept flowing.
Look carefully at the penalties the NCAA actually imposed and rethink how severe the punishment actually was:
The four-year bowl ban was absolutely academic. What legitimate bowl wants Pedophile State? This is like banning Mel Gibson from hosting the Oscars for four years. Its a joke.
The 60 million fine? Im sure there were a slew of alumni with their checkbooks open before the NCAAs press conference was finished. Earlier, in the midst of one of the single most disgusting scandals to hit a major university, PSU raised over 200 million in donations. A Penn State representative said the donations "send a loud and distinct message". The message is that the navy-and-white zealots who support PSU care more about a football team then they do about abused children.
Who really cares about the vacated wins? Besides Bobby Bowden, that is. This is much more of a Paterno family sanction than it is a Penn State sanction. Joe loses all his records. And since even this wont get Jay Paterno to shut up, how effective is it, really? Telling Charles Jefferson that Penn State wrecked his Camaro would have been more punitive.
The scholarships hurt, no doubt about it. But they would hurt a lot more if they were limited after a long football exile.
Look, this wasn't just about crimes by a former coach on the football team. This was a moral failure of the university as a whole, from the president on down. A deliberate and concerted effort from 1998 on, which not only concealed Sandusky's existing crimes but allowed for more children to be victimized. And it was done in the name of preserving the football program and Joe Paterno's legacy. Institutional control wasnt used to protect children from a sexual predator. It was employed to protect both the legacy of a revered head coach, and the competitive advantage in recruiting and fundraising that such a prominent figurehead bestows.
A state university safeguarding the achievements and reputations of extracurricular activities at the expense of anyones well-being, and especially that of children's, is nothing less than a capital crime against the public trust. At a state-funded institution, it should be the public that this university exists to serve, not a sport or coach.
You would think that the public served by this institution would be up in arms.
But the irrational reverence of football above all else in Happy Valley still clouds the judgment of those well beyond Beaver Stadium and administrative offices of Penn State. It has infested the very fiber of the student body and the surrounding community. When the scandal first broke, Penn State closed ranks to protect its precious football program. This was when it should have been opening its arms to the facts, the truth and the victims of Sandusky. But the legend of Joe Pa was to be protected at all costs. The students even rioted after Paterno was rightly and deservedly fired.
I was at the PSU Art Fest riots of 1998, where students violently rampaged because local police closed the bars a few minutes early. Those kids were altruistic freedom fighters compared with the sycophantic cretins that took to the streets to protest their ousted rape enabler.
The punishment for having a university that aided and abetted a child molester, and a culture that couldn't set its football idolatry aside despite the gravity of the crimes, should have been apocalyptic . . . and that means no football for a long time. But TV schedules, stadium turnstiles, and advertising contracts took precedence over historic and monumentally deserved penance.
A complete cleansing was required to refocus Penn State University on what matters: Upholding the public trust. Repairing the damage done to the victims. And never again putting anything before the University motto it should have been paying attention to all along: "Making Life Better."
Unfortunately for the people who expected real justice today, they forgot the unofficial motto of college sports: Make More Money.