Just a week ago, the Penn State sanction situation looked like a tinderbox, ready to go up in flames. President Rodney Erickson had run an end-around of sorts, negotiating a consent decree with the NCAA and trustees chair Karen Peetz rather than putting the issue to the board of trustees instead, which quite understandably concerned them.
At that point, the threats of appeals and lawsuits came thundering in—from the Paterno family, from former Penn State lettermen and from some trustees themselves. The trustees in particular were worrisome because their appeal was intended as a precursor to a lawsuit against the NCAA, according to ESPN, and that was a mortal lock to get ugly.
Though some criticized the sanctions, an overwhelming majority of Penn State’s trustees voiced support Sunday for PSU President Rodney Erickson’s decision to accept the NCAA’s punishment over how the university handled child sex abuse allegations against former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.
“All of us believe the sanctions are harsh, but I now believe this is the time to move forward,” trustee Mark H. Dambly said during the nearly two-hour meeting, done by conference call. “I encourage everyone to look forward and not backward and restore the roar here.”
At the outset of the meeting, board chairwoman Karen Peetz said board members would not be able to vote on the consent decree because there were not at least 10 days’ notice given. Furthermore, Peetz said a vote was not necessary to ratify the agreement, though she hoped the meeting would “clear up some issues.”
Most importantly, trustee Ryan McCombie said that he would not be pursuing his appeal, which means the lawsuit alluded to earlier is now effectively dead.
So that's it, then. The NCAA's sanctions are in place. Penn State's not fighting them anymore. We can move on.
That feels good, doesn't it? Obviously, you don't have to like the sanctions or agree with them—on that, you'd be in the same boat as most of the trustees. But to just move forward from their imposition in the first place is, in its own way, liberating: you accept them, and you spend your time worrying about more constructive things, like rebuilding Penn State's reputation, keeping the athletic department afloat and preparing for the most immediate success possible after the sanctions expire.
More importantly, the broader perception of Penn State—which is important, considering the fact that the school depends on people choosing to send their children there—begins to change back for the better once it's evident that the leadership is taking responsibility rather than fighting the report it paid for and its consequences. People want to see that.
This saga isn't over—not entirely, and we don't mean that in a "because the survivors will never forget" sense either, because nobody would claim otherwise. No, there are still perjury and failing to report child abuse charges awaiting two Penn State officials, and according to StateCollege.com, a judge is hearing a motion to have those dismissed later this week. And whether any of the administrators' actions violated the Clery Act is still yet to be determined.
But at the very least, from an NCAA standpoint, the fight is over and the sanctions will begin. And that, finally, is that.