NCAA oversteps with Penn State

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By Brad Spencer

Sports Editor

I get it. Everyone wants a stab at the monster, the five-headed beast of Jerry Sandusky, Joe Paterno, Graham Spanier, Gary Schultz and Tim Curley. Their heads, Sandusky's the most evil of them all, are attached to the slimy, scaly body that is Penn State University, which now, apparently, includes professors, administrators, trustees and students, most notably former, current and potentially future football players.      

What I'm getting at is that the sanctions handed down by the NCAA against Penn State in the wake of the Sandusky child abuse scandal and alleged cover-up are ridiculous, absurdly over the top and smack of a false self-righteousness. The $60 million fine that will go toward a fund for victims of child abuse is the only measure in the punishment that seems justifiable and reasonable, although it should include more millions, possibly even a running percentage of future game day ticket sales. But the NCAA should have no involvement in any punishment beyond a monetary value sanction. Sandusky stole the innocence from young boys. He's been convicted in a court of law and will remain in jail for the rest of his life. Schultz, the former Penn State vice president and Curley, the former athletic director, have been fired and will stand trial for perjury. Joe Paterno is dead, his name and his legacy tarnished forever. The NCAA is only penalizing the innocent.

Past, current and future Penn State football players and the student fans who help fill the 100,000-plus seat stadium in Happy Valley are being punished for the child abuse that occurred at the hands of Sandusky and allegedly was covered up by Paterno and others. How does banning bowl appearances and Big Ten conference title games for the next four years help child abuse victims? Wiping out Penn State's victories from 1998 through 2011 is unequivocally irrelevant. I'm not wiping out my memory of the 2006 Nittany Lions gutting out a 26-23 triple-overtime victory over Bobby Bowden's Florida State Seminoles. Those players earned that victory, that memory, that glory. It was not achieved by breaking any NCAA violations. 

"The gut-check message is, 'Do we have the right balance in our culture?'" NCAA President Mark Emmert told reporters in a news conference on Monday morning. "Or are we in a position where hero worship and winning at all costs has subordinated our core values?"

We're all to blame then, Emmert, including the NCAA, which has helped cultivate such hero worship with multimillion-dollar television deals, Sports Illustrated covers, full-ride scholarships, to name a few examples. If you're going to take away a number of Penn State's football scholarships, then you'd better do the same for all Division I football programs. 

The university conducted its own independent investigation into the abuse and the potential of a cover-up, and then revealed those results publicly. The school should be allowed to hand down its own severe punishment. I'm sure Emmert, and Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delaney, don't want to be looked upon as heroes. That's the basis of their sanctions in the first place.

A culture of change has already begun at Penn State. This monster has been slayed. For the NCAA and the Big Ten, the future should be about prevention, not punishment. 



Twitter: @oakparksports

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Reader Comments

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Comment Policy

Jerry Hudson from Phoenix  

Posted: July 27th, 2012 7:36 PM

The highest officials at Penn State knew or should have known that at a minimum, they had a "problem" with Jerry Sandusky. He should have been eased out, with no access to university facilities, no parking space and no showering prviliges with little boys. And the foundation, which served as his hunting ground, should have been notified. All of this should have been made clear to him by university counsel. That's the minimum. And none of it was done.

Jerry Hudson from Phoenix  

Posted: July 27th, 2012 7:18 PM

cont: And I'm unable to explain his lack of judgement here. Wanting to control the "spin," to protect the image of the university, the football team and the head coach is instinctual and to be expected. However, it is inexplicable and unpardonable to ignore the victims and to act in a way calculated to make certain there will be more. I have questions about NCAA jurisdiction here, too. NCAA rules don't cover child rape, nor did they cover murder at Baylor. But it did the right thing here.

Jerry Hudson from Phoenix  

Posted: July 27th, 2012 7:09 PM

Of course the NCAA sanctions punish the innocent. They always do. Of course "suits" shouldn't be able to change the outcome of games unless there was some rule breaking involving players. Of course. But what we've had at PSU is unprecdented (as far as we know) and the sanctions needed to be unprecedented, too. Zero concern for little boys raped on campus or for future little boys who might be raped on campus. I know Graham Spanier a little. He's a graduate of Highland Park HS BTW.

NCAA is deplorable from OP  

Posted: July 25th, 2012 10:58 PM

So what's the NCAA policy on sexual abuse on a school campus that's not related to an NCAA program? What has it done in the past 50 years that has done anything to enforce those policies (if they exist)? Can it assure us that no similar crimes are happening now at other NCAA schools? How do they know? The NCAA is just piling on Penn State and trying to defend before they too are blamed. What happened at Penn State is tragic, the NCAA's blame/denial game is deplorable and demeans the victims


Posted: July 25th, 2012 8:14 PM

Brad, You still don't get it. Current football players are being allowed to transfer immediately and play immediately at other universities. They are free to stay or free to go. It's their choice. Same goes for future football players. The message to administrators at all other NCAA universities is loud and clear. I will personally start a Brad Spencer Fund and raise the necessary funds to bring the JoPa statue to Oak Park in your honor. I will then have it installed under the Marion St. viaduct

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 25th, 2012 10:12 AM

I re-read your articles on PSU. I see no reason to change a word in my posts. I fail to see how this is know an issue of pain and suffering for current and former athletes. There are many people who had honorable careers in corporations that failed or were closed down by the government. That does not alter the value of their careers or their right to be proud. A different rule book does not exists for athletes or celebrities when the system fails them.

Brad Spencer, sports editor Wednesday Journal  

Posted: July 25th, 2012 9:33 AM

John, I advise you to read the column again--I also advise you to read most of the multiple stories you comment on at at the very least twice. It is ignorant of you to think I am defending anyone or anything of a sexual crime. Punish JoePa's legacy, punish those involved. But do not punish the current and future student-athletes that had nothing at all to do with the despicable crimes that occurred.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 23rd, 2012 11:52 PM

Brad - PSU is a member of the NCAA per Wikipedia "The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is an association of 1,281 institutions, conferences, organizations and individuals that organizes the athletic programs of many colleges and universities in the United States and Canada. It is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana. (from Wikipedia)." Shouldn't PSU withdraw or resign from the NCAA if it feels slandered or insulted by the NCAA penalty? PSU is an NCAA member -- and active one. Or would that cost PSU too much money? As far as blaming everyone for the scandal, your argument is very weak. That happens when you decide to defend and university and staff for a sexual crime. Remember if JoePa was alive, he probably would have been indicted already.

Drew Peterson from Will County Jail  

Posted: July 23rd, 2012 4:35 PM

Brad, I would love to have you on my jury.


Posted: July 23rd, 2012 4:18 PM

@ Brad. ""We're all to blame then". Wrong! Brad, you could use a lesson in real reporting from small market paper reporter Sara Ganim, a 24 year old Penn. St. graduate.

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