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Penn State Scandal: Complaining About Sanctions Sends Wrong Message

Brian Mazique@@UniqueMaziqueCorrespondent IIIJuly 25, 2012

STATE COLLEGE, PA - JULY 23: Penn State students and others react to the sanctions the NCAA announced against Penn State in the HUB on the campus of Penn State on July 23, 2012 in State College, Pennsylvania. As an outcome of the university's mishandling of the allegations of child-sexual abuse by former coach Jerry Sandusky, Penn State was fined $60 million, was stripped of all its football wins from 1998 through 2011, barred from postseason games for four years, and lost 20 total scholarships annually for four seasons.  (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

No one likes to see the innocent suffer for the crimes of the guilty.

But what current, former and potential Penn State athletes are enduring is similar to that of what athletes of other penalized institutions have experienced.

The repercussions of the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal are taking tangible shape. The NCAA has spoken and the Penn State Football program has been shaken by the weight of the penalty.

Here are the sanctions, according to ESPN:

The NCAA has hit Penn State with a $60 million sanction, a four-year football postseason ban and a vacation of all wins dating to 1998, the organization said Monday morning. The career record of Joe Paterno will reflect these vacated records.

Penn State also must reduce 10 initial and 20 total scholarships each year for a four-year period.

In addition to that, current Penn State players are free to transfer without penalty.

The hefty sanctions levied against the Penn State football program will drastically impair their chance to compete. It will affect many innocent student-athletes, but how do you penalize a program without that happening?

I don't think it's possible.

But this is not the time to cry foul about the NCAA's penalty system.

The manner in which programs have been penalized has been in place for decades. Making a stink about the totality of NCAA punishment behind the most heinous act in college sports history is tasteless.

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It further proves that many supporters of the program still don't get it, and that their priorities are still out of order.

The supporters themselves are not criminals, but they are backers of a entity that symbolizes criminal behavior.

The most insulting thing for a victim is for the culprit and/or their supporters to complain about the punishment received for their actions.

At some point, you have to take your medicine. Some may argue that the sanctions were too harsh and that this affects the innocent.

But where were you with this appeal to the plight of the innocent student-athlete last year? The USC Trojans' players paid a price for far less serious actions committed by former players.

Where were you when the Michigan Wolverines' basketball program was penalized for things from the Fab Five era?

If you're only crying foul now, then it comes off as a means to try and save yourself. Jim Avila of ABC News quoted a fan's reaction to the removal of Joe Paterno and the program's wins from 1998 to last year:

"'The wins…we didn't cheat in football, that's unnecessary.'"

As the punishment for child abuse is being conveyed, we're talking about being upset about the loss of wins? Something about that doesn't seem right. 

ESPN's J.A. Adande is quoted as followed in the article:

"Why punish athletes who weren't even around when all of this was transpiring [...]. Now you're denying opportunities for people to get scholarships to go to Penn State."

Penn State isn't the only program in the country. Denying a kid the chance to get a scholarship to go to Penn State just means they'll get a scholarship to play elsewhere.

The Nittany Lions program was a highly respected program. If a kid was good enough to earn a scholarship there, he surely has other options. Let's not make the potential future athletes the victims in this.

One Penn State student is quoted in Avila's article, and it was one of the most sensible comments:

"'We are a huge family, and this is just a huge blow to our family.'"

I can respect that position. The sentiment has been that Penn State is bigger than its program. Now it's time for them to prove it.

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