Penn State Changing the Past: NCAA's Solution Continues School's Problems

James Dugan@jamesduganlbContributor IJuly 25, 2012

STATE COLLEGE, PA - JULY 22: A man stares at the site where the statue of former Penn State University football coach Joe Paterno once stood outside Beaver Stadium on July 22, 2012 in State College, The statue was removed by workers after Pennsylvania. Penn State's president Rodney Erickson made the decision Sunday in the wake of the child sex scandal of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. According to an FBI report, it is believed that Paterno had detailed knowledge of Jerry Sandusky sexually abusing children before and after Sandusky retired from coaching at Penn State. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Now that Penn State has received its NCAA punishment for harboring and abetting a convicted child molester in order to save precious millions generated off its football program, the alumni and friends of the once proud school can pick up the pieces and pay for it.

Fair is fair.

$60 million generated from football—of course, not from their coffers but from fans—and some student scholarships—of course, this won’t hurt the board any; they already passed their ethics courses—and one statue taken down.

Now let’s move on.


They are blaming a dead guy.

In the worst case of grave yard pointing since A Weekend at Bernie’s, the NCAA is letting a Joe Paterno take the fall, so they can get one of their profitable money making athletic machines up and running by fall.

Penn State University is only too happy to agree with their assessment so that the cameras leave and they can get back to business as usual.

And business it is.

Let’s remember in 2010-11, only 22 NCAA football teams made a profit. Guess where Penn State was ranked? Top Five.

What is the price of a person’s reputation? Nowhere near the cost of truth.

So they changed a few wins, the beloved Bear Bryant is back on top and PSU hasn’t won a game since Sandusky retired.

What?! So most of Sandusky’s wins still count?

Why not take all the wins from PSU ever since Paterno’s arrival? Why not just take away football if that was the problem?

School will happen. Kids will go.

They will become engineers, teachers and bad board members one day.

We can use the steel frame of the second-largest college football stadium in America and build a tower to Joe Paterno and ask him what he thinks.

I know what he would say.

“I was just a coach. Who cares what I think? If you are doing the right things, for the right reasons, in the right way, you will be able to sleep at night. Sure, I’ve made mistakes and I don’t care if they take a statue of me down. Who would want to look at an ugly guy from Brooklyn anyway? Penn State is important, not this cranky guy. The work we do every day and how we change to get a little better.”

Only the NCAA could come up with a plan to save a money making machine by changing the past.

So for the sake of argument, let us look back on three historical figures to see what would happen if we wipe them out of history for their wrongdoings. Quoted sections from Wikipedia:

Richard Nixon

“Although Nixon initially escalated America's involvement in the Vietnam War, he subsequently ended US involvement in 1973. Nixon's visit to the People's Republic of China in 1972 opened diplomatic relations between the two nations, and he initiated détente and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with the Soviet Union the same year. Domestically, his administration generally embraced policies that transferred power from Washington to the states. Among other things, he initiated wars on cancer and drugs, imposed wage and price controls, enforced desegregation of Southern schools and established the Environmental Protection Agency.”

Not a bad presidency, all things considered.

But he was disgraced from office because he wanted to win the election really bad.

Wipe out free trade, the ending of Vietnam, the EPA and the beginning of national healthcare reform.

Ben Franklin

“Franklin was a prodigious inventor. Among his many creations were the lightning rod, glass armonica (a glass instrument, not to be confused with the metal harmonica), Franklin stove, bifocal glasses and the flexible urinary catheter. Franklin never patented his inventions; in his autobiography he wrote, "... as we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours; and this we should do freely and generously."”

Now in Puritan times, if you were born on a Sunday, it was a very bad omen. Not because of the child, but Puritans believed you were doing the nasty on the Sabbath nine months prior, which was a no-no.

Ben was born on a Sunday.

He also had an illegitimate child who was British sympathizer.

For all the good Ben did for Philadelphia and the country, he was a weak man of pride, whose very offspring led New Jersey to the Tory side. Father of a Traitor and a deadbeat dad.

Alexander Hamilton

“As Secretary of the Treasury, Hamilton was the primary author of the economic policies of the George Washington administration, especially the funding of the state debts by the Federal government, the establishment of a national bank, a system of tariffs, and friendly trade relations with Britain. He became the leader of the Federalist Party.”

Now I like my 10-dollar bills, but this guy was a disgrace for multiple affairs and died attempting to take another man’s life. If anyone should be erased from history, it should be Mr. Banking himself.

We would not even be in a recession if it was not for his central banking idea of lend, lend, borrow, borrow. But he was the man that built this Third World outpost into a Super Power 120 years later.

I don’t know what Joe Paterno knew, but something makes me queasy about changing real events because we are angry with someone or we want an easy way to clean up a mess.

PSU deserved the death penalty from the NCAA for two years plus these sanctions for placing football ahead of public safety.

Humanity is a flawed experiment from the start, and we will never meet anyone who is all good or all bad. For us to be determined as good, all you need is 51 percent good. History reports the facts and what happened; you cannot go back and change events even if it is for the all mighty dollar (Franklins or Hamiltons) or all the gold in China (Nixon).

An institution of higher learning should know that.

You can follow James Dugan on facebook and on Twitter @jamesduganlb. Purchase his new book through Amazon: What Baseball Teaches: A Poetic Odyssey into 2008 Season of the World Champions Philadelphia Phillies.


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