Monday, July 23, 2012

NCAA Imposes $60 Million "Fine" And Other Penalties on Penn State

The NCAA has imposed a $60 million penalty and vacated all of the school's wins from 1998 to 2011. The $60 million is going to found a fund to compensate victims; the $60 million isn't in addition to whatever settlements come against the school or its officials.

Let that sink in a moment.

Penn State's fine is equal to one year's revenues from the football program.

The schools wins are vacated from 1998 to 2011.
The punishment also included the loss of some scholarships over four years and the vacating of all of the team’s victories from 1998 to 2011, but stopped short of forcing the university to shut down the football team for a season or more, the so-called death penalty. Still, the penalties are serious enough that it is expected to take Penn State’s football program, one of the most successful in the country, years before it will be able to return to the sport’s top echelon.

The postseason ban and the scholarship restrictions essentially prevent the program from fielding a team that can be competitive in the Big Ten. The N.C.A.A. will also allow Penn State players to transfer to another university, where they can play immediately, inviting the possibility of a mass exodus. Penn State will lose 10 initial scholarships and 20 total scholarships each year for a four-year period.

In announcing the penalties, Mark Emmert, the N.C.A.A. president, called the case the most painful “chapter in the history of intercollegiate athletics,” and said it could be argued that the punishment was “greater than any other seen in N.C.A.A. history.” He said Penn State accepted the penalties when they were presented to the university.

The N.C.A.A.'s penalty is the latest action to stem from the scandal involving Sandusky, who was convicted last month of being a serial pedophile. The release of a grand jury report detailing Sandusky’s actions last November led to the firing of the head coach, Joe Paterno; the removal of the university’s president, Graham B. Spanier; and charges against two other top university officials.

Emmert said that no punishment the N.C.A.A. could impose would change the damage done by Sandusky’s acts, but “the culture, actions and inactions that allowed them to be victimized will not be tolerated in collegiate athletics.”

Ed Ray, the president of Oregon State and chairman of the N.C.A.A.'s executive committee, said the case, and the sanctions imposed, represented a declaration by university presidents and chancellors that “this has to stop.” By that he meant a win at all costs mentality with respect to intercollegiate sports.
And all of this is because Penn State officials thought that protecting the football program and the university's reputation was more important than protecting innocent kids.

Now, the program is hit with the stigma of condoning the abuse. And it still is insufficient.

Sorry, but they deserved to have the football program canned altogether. The school's officials actively engaged in a coverup of sexual abuse and it was institutionalized by those in the athletic department and from top school officials. $60 million is a huge sum, but one that isn't going to miss a beat with a school's endowment the size of Penn State ($1.8 billion systemwide). Losing scholarships, bowl appearances, etc., will hurt, but it's not going to rectify the way that the school completely abrogated its responsibilities to the community.

People need to learn that there are serious consequences for condoning sexual abuse. A fine isn't going to cut it in my book.

As for the students in the football program, they should be allowed to transfer to other schools with no penalization; they were bystanders to the failures and had no way to know that they were going to a program that was as debased as Penn State was. Let them transfer to other programs with no loss of scholarships or eligibility. This isn't on them.

Oh, and I still see that the Paterno family questions the Freeh report's conclusions about Joe P. Sorry, but I have no sympathy for them or Paterno's legacy. He knew, or had reason to know of the abuse, and did nothing - and worse, let Sandusky continue to play a role in the sports program and work with kids.

The school finally took down the statue honoring Paterno over the weekend. That's little more than a symbolic gesture and cold consolation to those who were abused.

The NCAA decision also allows football players to transfer at no loss of eligibility or loss of scholarship. That's good for the students, but the university should have seen even greater penalties. The football program should have been disbanded. The university institutionalized the failings that allowed Sandusky to commit his abuse and didn't do enough to protect innocents.

The scandal will eventually fade and the program will eventually return in full form.

Heck, a 1950s point shaving scandal at a bunch of NYC area colleges had longer lasting results:
While Kentucky was forced to cancel one season of play (1952-53), it was the only program that was not permanently hobbled by the scandal. To date, Bradley is the only other affected school to have appeared in a final major media poll. However, none of the programs would suffer more than CCNY and LIU. Following the discovery of several other irregularities, CCNY deemphasized its athletic program and dropped down to what is now Division III. LIU shut down its entire athletic program from 1951 to 1957, and didn't return to Division I until the 1980s.
Penn State should have at least done the same as LIU, or the NCAA should have imposed a similar fate.

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