The Penn State Fiasco

I had some words about this earlier.  Now the sports authorities have weighed in.

The NCAA has penalized Penn State with the following primary sanctions:

  • fined Penn State $60 million
  • erased all of Head Coach Joe Paterno’s wins from 1998-2011
  • banned Penn State from the postseason for four years
  • permitted current and incoming football players to transfer to and immediately compete at another school (this permission runs for the entire college careers of current players.  Normally, players can transfer at any time, but they must sit out a year at their new school, with that year counting toward their 4-year eligibility)
  • capped football scholarships at 20 below the normal limit for four years (this is a roughly 25% reduction in scholarships)
  • placed the Penn State football program on probation for five years

The Big 10 has added (while reserving the possibility of adding further penalties) a ban on sharing in post season (bowl) revenues for four years, with an expected cost to Penn State of $13 billion.

On the whole, I agree with these.  A ban on football altogether for a year—the so-called death penalty—would have punished the player-students, who had nothing to do with their coaches’, Athletic Department, or University leadership failures.

However, I would have preferred additional sanctions: 100% termination of the remaining football coaching staff who were on the payroll last November; 100% termination of all Athletic Director staff associated in any way with the Penn State football function (including athletics, financial support functions, player recruitment (beyond the football coaching staff’s involvement), alumni relations as these apply to Penn State football, and so on); and termination of the Penn State University President, Vice President, and Chief of Operations, and their operational (as opposed to administrative) staffs—just clean house altogether.

Whether or not these people had anything directly to do with Sandusky’s behavior, their oversight was wholly inadequate: Sandusky could not have gone on as long as he did, nor could the cover-up of Sandusky’s behavior have gone on as long as it did, without a significant fraction of these staffs functionally condoning the behavior and cover-up through their own inaction.  Just generally require a wholesale house-cleaning.

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