Penn State Scandal: Why the NCAA's Sanctions Are Not Too Harsh

Brian KinelCorrespondent IIIJuly 25, 2012

NCAA President Mark Emmert announcing sanctions against Penn State
NCAA President Mark Emmert announcing sanctions against Penn StateJoe Robbins/Getty Images

The question we’ve been asking for weeks has been answered. Would the NCAA punish Penn State? The answer leads to lots of discussion. Let’s have at it.

Not only did the NCAA decide that it had jurisdiction to punish Penn State, but it also decided that the Lions must go down and go down hard.

The discussion here revolves around punishing people who did nothing wrong.

Why punish players who weren’t even at the university when this tragedy was occurring? The assumption is that the $60 million fine will punish the entire student body by causing Penn State to raise tuition and fees to cover the difference. Will some other sports programs be cut because of a lack of funding, since they rely on football revenue to survive?

The innocent are punished every time the NCAA sanctions any school.

It’s impossible not to punish some who had nothing to do with the violations. The timing of investigations alone causes that issue. I don’t see how the NCAA could properly investigate these violations without many of the guilty already having left the school.

That’s part of the message being sent by the NCAA: You should feel bad that some innocent people suffer because of your transgression and use that as impetus to stay clean.

The NCAA is telling the institution to do a better job of monitoring its program. Sometimes the institution is the coach, sometimes the athletic director, sometimes the President and sometimes, as in this case, the board of trustees.

I know what half of you are screaming right now. What could the board have done? Ask any of the administrators involved if they were covering up cases of child molestation?

No, they could have made sure that a culture didn’t exist that worshiped the football program and put it above everything else.

The words of Vicky Triponey, vice president of student affairs at Penn State, point out the out-of-whack priorities that permeated Penn State. Stating that the delineation of power when it came to disciplining football players wasn’t always clear to Paterno should have been a major concern to the powers that be.

Instead they ignored her, leading to her resignation.

That’s the violation that deserves to be punished.

Is this a slippery slope? Will the NCAA now look at punishing Syracuse for the Bernie Fine issue? What if there is a sexual harassment accusation against a coach? Will the NCAA swoop in there, too?

NCAA president Mark Emmert made it clear that the Penn State case is a very unique situation. Certainly the severity alone sets it apart. It’s also different from the Bernie Fine case because the reports involving Jerry Sandusky came from adults who witnessed the acts, not the victims.

There have been no grand jury or charges at all in the Fine case. There’s been no indication that Jim Boeheim or anyone else at Syracuse knew anything about these alleged acts. All unlike Penn State.

No one would ever say the NCAA always gets it right.

This time they did.


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