I was inspired to write this article due in large part to the seemingly uneducated masses of people who are clamoring and demanding that the NCAA sanction the "Death Penalty" upon Penn State. The people are not at fault for why they are uneducated; they are uneducated because the media has failed them. Do most of you even know what the "Death Penalty" is? Let alone when it can be implemented?
I'm here to educate the masses and clear up the turmoil that has the majority of the nation in an uproar. For your sake, please read this article carefully, I am providing facts that argue for themselves about what can and cannot be done.
First, I will explain what the “Death Penalty” is as most of the people I have spoken to simply believe it is the NCAA stopping a football program forever. The Repeat Violators rule commonly called "The Death Penalty” is the NCAA’s most severe form of punishment.
Levied only five times in the history of the NCAA, the “Death Penalty” is reserved for repeat offenders of NCAA rules and regulations regarding a purposeful pursuit of a competitive advantage over a team's opponents. The penalty will impose at the very least, a one year “death” of the sport in question. No financial aid, no scholarships, no anything.
A “competitive advantage” is the real key here. The crimes that Jerry Sandusky committed and the cover up by Penn State higher ups Gary Schultz, Tim Curley, Graham Spanier and Joe Paterno are absolutely inexplicable and unforgivable. But the crimes were in no way a “purposeful pursuit of a competitive advantage”.
Not only that, but Penn State has always been a clean program and has not had previous NCAA violations to warrant the repeat violators rule. The NCAA can regulate athletics, not criminal acts or charges. In this case, the NCAA cannot be the governing body that decides what punishments Penn State receives.
Pre-Read: Should Penn State get the death penalty?
Let’s look a little deeper into the “Death Penalty” and at how some are being led to believe that the NCAA will drop every Penn State sport.
Penn State is the heart and soul of Central Pennsylvania. Without it, hundreds of thousands of people would be without jobs and educations. Penn State's main campus is home to roughly 45,000 students. These students help make Penn State one of the largest contributors to charity in the nation. Penn State is home to the largest student-run philanthropy program in the world.
Let that soak in for a second.
Every year, the THON program has a dance marathon where volunteers and students come together to raise money for childhood cancer research. The athletic teams at Penn State largely impact the success and lifeblood of THON. This past year, THON raised 10.6 million dollars for childhood cancer awareness and treatment.
Stopping sports at the university would serve no purpose. It would harm people that had nothing to do with this scandal.
It does not make sense for the innocent students and faculty to be punished for the actions of a few bad men. The men that are at question in the Sandusky case are not even actively involved at Penn State anymore. Who would the NCAA be punishing if they levied sanctions against Penn State now?
The NCAA has no power in this case to do anything. It is not a current issue regarding current staff, players, etc. This is a criminal case against the accused, let the jury find what they may.
I feel the need to put blame back on the shoulders of the media here. The people have lost sight of what is truly important here: the victims. There are still men who need punishment for knowingly covering up heinous crimes. But we don’t hear about that anymore do we? All we hear about is Penn State football being shut down. I hear all the time how this goes beyond “football.”
“What’s a game when children’s lives have been ruined?!” This is absolutely true, but to turn your back on the victims and go right to harming and sanctioning the innocent current coaches and players is to make this a football issue. The level of hypocrisy here is unbelievable.
But once again, it is not the people's fault; the media has failed to educate them and has led them to believe what they want them to believe.
The media, local and national, is simply concerned with selling newspapers or getting TV ratings. They do not really care if you have all the facts or not. In all the time I've spent watching the coverage of this story since the Freeh report was released, not one media outlet mentioned the impact this would have on the current people who are facing charges for these crimes.
All they were concerned about was putting the blame squarely on Paterno and the football program because that is what would sell the best. Did the media inform you that investigator Louis Freeh has been accused of a massive FBI cover up?
I ask you, the people, to not be uneducated on the facts of anything in your lives. Do not rely on someone to tell you what's right or wrong. That includes me; do not take my word for what you see here without looking into it yourself. The rules of the NCAA can only regulate competitive advantages, not criminal acts. The fact is that the NCAA is powerless in this situation.
Handing down a “death penalty” sanction would do nothing to the men who committed the crimes. All the “Death Penalty” would do is kill a program filled with innocent coaches, players, students and fans. It would kill the heart of Penn State University. It would kill the students who attend Penn State and all of its branch campuses. It would kill the alumni who proudly declare they graduated from Penn State. And it would kill everything good that Penn State has done and will continue to do as a university.
Do you really want to be held responsible for destroying the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent people? The hammer needs to come down on those who knowingly covered up the abuse. Not the innocent. ESPN's own Skip Bayless agrees with me on this topic. You can see his reaction here.
I leave you with a quote from Howard Zinn, "There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.”
Imposing the “Death Penalty” on Penn State football by rash actions of an enraged society would disrupt the lives of too many innocent people. Turn your rage where it belongs! Turn it on Tim Curley, Gary Schultz, Graham Spanier, Jerry Sandusky and yes, Joe Paterno. Take a deep breath, and spare the innocent and get justice for the victims.
I thank you for reading.
*all information regarding NCAA rules and regulations was obtained at ncaa.org