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Opening Arguments

Penn State death penalty?

Here's a real heated-argument starter:


NCAA president Mark Emmert spoke with Tavis Smiley of PBS and delivered a harsh assessment of school officials in the wake of the Freeh Report delivered last week.

"I've never seen anything as egregious as this in terms of just overall conduct and behavior inside a university and hope never to see it again," Emmert said during the interview. "What the appropriate penalties are, if there are determinations of violations, we'll have to decide."

Emmert said the NCAA would wait to hear Penn State's response to the Freeh Report, but wouldn't equivocally take a possible death penalty to the football program off the table.

I've heard this kicked around on several talk shows, and there seems to be equal support for two strong opinions:

1. The death penalty would hurt hundreds of people who committed no offense and don't deserve punishment, everybody from current and future students to merchants who depend on revenue spent by football fans.

2. There should be a death penalty not just for Penn State but for all collegiate athletics, which have become the tail that wags the education dog.

Dismantling college sports programs is so complicated it would never get done, so we might as well take that off the table. That leaves No. 1, which many of us would feel a lot better about if we could be certain the actual offenders were more likely to face punishment.