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Opening Arguments

Slow death for Penn State

I still haven't decided what I think about this:

The governing body of U.S. college sports fined Penn State University $60 million and voided its football victories for the past 14 seasons in an unprecedented rebuke for the school's failure to stop coach Jerry Sandusky's sexual abuse of children.

NCAA President Mark Emmert said the school had put "hero worship and winning at all costs" ahead of integrity, honesty and responsibility.

Penn State was not given the so-called "death penalty" that could have suspended its football program but it was banned from post-season bowl games for four years and had the number of scholarships available to players reduced from 25 to 15.

Part of me thinks this was too harsh because it punishes far more people than the ones who in any way had anything to do with the coverup of Sandusky's monstrous behavior -- everybody from merchants who depend on Penn State football to kids who want to go there to join the team to students whose education could be threatened when the university's money starts drying up. Our sense of fair play demands that we hold people accountable for their actions but try to limit the collateral damage our instruments of justice might inflict.

But a part of me thinks they should just have gone ahead and given Penn State the death penalty, banned the program altogether so the university could go on to become some other kind of institution instead of a Big 10 football powerhouse. For one thing, this is really a death penalty, too, just one calling for a long, drawn-out death instead of a quick one. For another, the death penalty would send the message that as important as college sports have become, there are limits to our tolerance of tails that wag dogs. No program's reputation or institution's legacy is justification for the lack of simple human decency that could have prevented much of the sexual abuse Sandusky committed. 


Harl Delos
Tue, 07/24/2012 - 1:00pm

If you commit a foul while shooting a basketball, the basket doesn't count.  Jerry Sandusky wasn't coaching after 1998; Paterno fired him.  None the less, it was easier to recruit players without the scandal of a coach who raped little boys.

If you cheated on your taxes in 2010, died in 2011, and the IRS catches the cheating in 2012, your wife has to pay the taxes, penalties, and interest, even if it can be shown that she had no idea you were cheating.  She benefitted from the lower taxes paid.

I feel sorry for businesses in Happy Valley that will suffer, but had Sandusky's rapes come to light earlier, they would have had some pain a decade ago.  It's like a hole in the roof. If it doesn't ge caught quickly, there will be a lot more damage.

One of my neighbors argues that we oughta make PSU's branch campuses independent colleges, and auction off the assets of the main campus.  The name is wrong, anyway; Pennsylvania is a commonwealth, not a state.  A couple of others have argued that PSU ought to drop football entirely, given the concussion lawsuits in pro football.

The Roman Catholic church didn't suffer enough to keep PSU from doing their own cover-up.  It's important that there be enough pain at Penn State that child rape coverups become unthinkable anywhere in the US