Penn State's Penalties Well-Deserved, Paterno's Legacy Forever Tarnished

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Penn State's Penalties Well-Deserved, Paterno's Legacy Forever Tarnished
Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

Happy Valley has never been so unhappy. Since the child sexual abuse allegations against former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky surfaced, tensions have been high at State College. 

On Monday, the NCAA handed down a slew of penalties against the university, specifically the football program. 

Some of the highlights include losing 10 scholarships per year for the next four seasons, a four-year bowl and postseason ban, probation and perhaps the most damning of all, vacating all football victories from 1998-2011. 

Not to mention a hefty $60 million fine. 

The sanctions will cost legendary coach Joe Paterno 111 wins, effectively taking his wins record for FBS with it. Florida State's Bobby Bowden will now hold that record with 377 victories.

Having played college football myself, I understand why current players would be upset. I understand that they must feel like all their hard work and dedication is being thrown away. 

That's a fair feeling.

Unfortunately, Penn State failed as a university and as an institute of higher learning. That failure carries with it punishments that will blanket many people, including those not directly involved in the scandal. In this case, the victims were not football players, not parents, not even faculty members. The victims were children. Vulnerable, defenseless children who put their trust in Penn State.

No one is going to argue Paterno's coaching ability. It was elite. As a coach, however, you have other responsibilities including being a leader and a teacher. Paterno fell short in keeping the well-being of children around his program safe. He is not a police officer, but in the Penn State hierarchy, he is the president, the lord, the king. He could have and should have asked more questions. There is no excuse for putting a young person in harm's way. None. 

Although the penalties might seem stiff to Penn State fans, they are absolutely necessary. We are talking about the lives of children being completely ruined—altered forever because Penn State put football above their safety and well-being. 

The egregious acts Sandusky committed are so horrible, most of us can't even begin to comprehend how an individual is even capable of such crimes. 

What needs to be remembered is that members of Penn State were aware of these crimes, to some degree, and that can not go unpunished. It seems the NCAA agrees. 

While I feel for the students and players of Penn State, I hope they will try to understand just how much these crimes are going to affect the victims. They will never have relief. They will always have to deal with what happened. After four years are up and Penn State can return to a bowl game, the victims will still be suffering. 

The vast majority of Penn State's coaching staff and players, both former and current, are stand-up individuals who have honesty and integrity at their core. I know they will understand that as a part of the Penn State family, they win together and they lose together. While the crimes are against a specific few people, Penn State falls as one. 

Joe Paterno failed. 

Penn State failed.

What is important now is to begin the rebuilding process. The healing process. The process of becoming what it once was: a respected university whose core lays in the community and the values it wants to instill in others. 

It will be a slow time of recovery, but when compared to what all those young victims are dealing with, it seems almost easy. 

Penn  State will eventually recover; they have a strong campus and a strong student body. Now it is important for them to stand up for the victims and forget football for the immediate future. 

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