Penn State Scandal: Avoiding Death Penalty Was Right Choice by NCAA

Sam R. QuinnSenior Analyst IIIJuly 23, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JULY 23: NCAA president Mark Emmert (R) speaks as Ed Ray, chairman of the NCAA's executive committee and Oregon State president looks on, during a press conference at the NCAA's headquarters to announce sanctions against Penn State University's football program on July 23, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The sanctions are a result of a report that the university concealed allegations of child sexual abuse made against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, who was found guilty on 45 of 48 counts related to sexual abuse of boys over a 15-year period. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The NCAA levied some program-decimating sanctions on the Penn State University football program in the wake of the child sex scandal revolving around former coach Jerry Sandusky.

Sandusky, who is now in prison, may spend the rest of his life behind bars for his heinous deeds.

Head coach Bill O'Brien and the rest of the football program will serve a well-deserved sentence of their own.

Not that any of these incidents have much to do with O'Brien, the players or the rest of the current football community in Happy Valley, but something needed to be done to ensure no football program anywhere could garner this much power over an entire university.

Many were calling for the "Death Penalty"—the cancellation of an entire season and possibly more, but NCAA President Mark Emmert made the right call to avoid that punishment.

Slapping the Penn State football with the death penalty would do nothing but allow it to fade into obscurity. Instead of fixing an institution-wide problem, it would have obliterated the program entirely.

Now Penn State must deal with a slow suffering that will cripple its football team for the better part of the next decade.

The $60 million fine isn't so bad, as the university has plenty of endowment money to pay for it. The monetary compensation will be paid to "programs preventing child sexual abuse and/or assisting the victims of child sexual abuse," according to the above report.

Banning the PSU football from bowl play for the next four years is so detrimental to the recruiting process. It pushes prospective athletes away from the university for the next half-decade, which is exactly what the NCAA wanted.

That punishment isn't as bad as the loss in scholarships, which, when combined with the other penalties, effectively turns Penn State into a Division II program.

The smartest punishment of all, is forcing the program to adhere to all of Chapter 10 of the Freeh report, which contains recommendations of ways to reform the culture at the university based on the finding of an independent study conducted by former FBI director Louis Freeh.

The Freeh report can be found in its entirety here.

What happened at Penn State was egregious and absolutely despicable. The death penalty was certainly warranted, but the other sanctions imposed will have a more damaging and refining impact on the program.