Looking at the Penn State Sandusky Sanctions a Day Later

Ed DzitkoContributor IJuly 24, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JULY 23: NCAA president Mark Emmert 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

For days prior to the NCAA announcement of sanctions against Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child abuse case, I argued against the death penalty for the Nittany Lions football program.

In fact, I agreed with supporters of former head coach Joe Paterno, who echoed what he had said before he died, that this was not a football issue. I still have a hard time accepting that it is.

This is, however, a Penn State University issue, and as such, there needs to be penalties that matter, that hurt. But who needs to be in the line of fire?

Now, before we go any further, I am not a graduate, fan or supporter of this institution or program. I am, other than when Notre Dame or Rutgers is doing battle with PSU, indifferent to the happenings in and around Happy Valley.

But like many, because of the horrid situation that Penn State finds itself in, I have an opinion about the major NCAA sanctions.

With all that we've read and heard, it is clear the leadership at the school failed miserably at stopping the monster that Sandusky is a long, long time ago. Therefore, anyone who had any knowledge or any suspicions, or who took part in any email exchange or in-person discussions, and who did not report what was happening to the authorities, should be in serious, serious trouble.

In that light, Paterno is not innocent. He had the power to remedy the situation early on, according to the grand jury report and the Freeh Report. His statue should have been removed, and the NCAA should have vacated all the wins the football team earned since the coach was made aware of something inappropriate happening.

While I usually think vacating wins is a farce, in this case, it had to be done. Joe Paterno cannot be considered the winningest coach in college football. When he failed to do more about exposing Sandusky for what he was, Paterno failed the victims, he failed the community and he failed the school.

Everyone else involved failed the victims and the school and the community, as well. And for that reason, the monetary fine levied upon the school by the NCAA is, I believe, warranted. The school needs to feel the impact of inaction, just as the victims, although not nearly in the same way, felt the impact of inaction.

And now, I have a problem with the harshness of the sanctions against the football program. The actions of a few are causing harm to the many. I find it hard to believe that a four-year ban on bowl games for the football team and the loss of 10 scholarships a year for the same time frame won't hurt more than the football program.

We're not talking about boosters, supporters or agents running amok, handing out money, jobs and escorts and arranging for players to head to Penn State who wouldn't have attended without any kind of personal gain other than a scholarship.

We're talking about student athletes on the gridiron, and on other fields, who are going to feel a deeper level of pain and hurt because some adults in their lives and their community failed them by keeping a secret, a secret about which the vast majority of them, if not all, probably never even heard the slightest whisper or rumor.

There is no doubt the NCAA needed to take action. But as often seems the case with the organization, its action was a little over the top and excessive. While it meant to be firm with regard to some, it is being harmful with regard to others.