Monday, July 23, 2012

The NCAA and Penn State

Perhaps I'm not the best judge of this all, because I have only a slight interest in college football, possibly as a result of having gone to two colleges with, well to be charitable, abominable football records, Humboldt State University and Oregon State University.  But maybe that makes me more objective.

If you care at all about this topic, you've undoubtedly heard how the NCAA has decided to punish Penn State for it's tolerance/lack of oversight of Jerry Sandusky, the long time and formerly lauded  Assistant Coach convicted of 52 counts of sex abuse over 12 years. It's generally believed that many in the football program and administration, including coach Joe Paterno, overlooked specific knowledge of the abuse in the interests of not damaging the program:
Emmert banned Penn State from bowl games for four years, imposed massive scholarship reductions (a total of 40 initial scholarships lost over four years) and fined the school $60 million.
The fine?  OK, as long as the money goes to a decent purpose.  I don't trust academics to do so, especially over a long run, after oversight has ceased. But why deny future students in the program, who had nothing to do with Sandusky's offense the punishment of less scholarships and the right to participate in future bowl games if they manage to put together a winning season (especially after my sanctions below are imposed)?
Emmert also vacated all of Penn State's victories from 1998 through 2011, meaning former coach Joe Paterno loses 111 wins from what had been a total of 409 victories, the most all time in major college football.
Now that's just stupid.  Why deny the students who actually played the games from 1998 through 2011 the credit for winning the games.   Having an assistant coach with a sex problem isn't like a steroid which somehow gave them an unnatural advantage over their competitors. Will it make other schools, students and football programs to be elevated a notch by having Penn States victories nullified?  I doubt it.  That's sort of an ultimate asterisk.
The NCAA, which placed Penn State on five years' probation, is reserving the right to investigate and punish individuals implicated in child sex-abuse case until after criminal proceedings. 
Courts and school administrations are the places where crimes need to be investigated and dealt with.  It's clear from their decisions above, that NCAA is taking a totally wrong headed approach to this problem, by punishing potential students who aren't even in college yet.

Here's my suggestion. Fire everyone in the football program and hire new. Fire every administrator in the chain of command from football up through the Chancellor, and all their aides and toadies and start fresh. Are some of them innocent?  No doubt, but that doesn't seem to prevent the NCAA from sanctions that will affect literally hundreds of students.

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