William K. Wolfrum's picture

    Penn State deserves worse

    Penn State just received a walloping from the NCAA for the Sandusky pedophilia ring. A penalty of $60 million, vacating all its wins from 1998 to 2011 and a ban from bowl games for four years.

    And it’s not enough.

    On its own, Penn State University needs to drop its football program for at least five years. Pulling Joe Paterno’s statue down and pretending like the last 40 years didn’t happen isn’t enough.

    I feel for the young men who signed with Penn State to play football. I truly hope the NCAA helps them – and other students – transfer easily to other schools.

    But make no mistake about it, these penalties by the NCAA will hurt. They’ll hurt State College and the surrounding area. They’ll hurt students. But we need to keep our eyes open to reality. We need to remember our priorities as civilized people.

    Joe Paterno let Jerry Sandusky turn Penn State into a pedophilia camp. Let us not forget how heinous the crimes were at Penn State. And they were covered up because of football.

    Penn State needs to dump the football program. And Americans need some time to think about how far we are willing to allow our love of sports take us off the path of basic humanity.


    Crossposted at William K. Wolfrum Chronicles



    I would agree with you. Or at least dump it for something like fourteen years, equivalent to the time from 1998 to 2012. 

    As far as the players are concerned

    Under NCAA rules covering postseason bans, players are allowed to transfer without sitting out a season as long as their remaining eligibility is shorter than or equal to the length of the ban.

    So it is likely many of the top players (with NFL aspirations) will bolt.  In a twisted way, with the loss of current players, the inability to recruit top players, and the loss of scholarships, the PSU football fans will have watch a mediocre team get pushed around in the Big Ten:  a reminder on those Saturdays of what had happened to their program.

    It should be noted, too, that the NCAA ordered Penn State to pay the $60 million penalty into an endowment for "external programs preventing child sexual abuse or assisting victims and may not be used to fund such programs at the university."  Moreover, The Big Ten has stated that Penn State's proceeds from Big Ten bowl revenues from the four years, amounting to an estimated $13 million, and will be allocated "to established charitable organizations in Big Ten communities dedicated to the protection of children," the conference said.

    What's worse than the excruciatingly slow death it is dying?  It will probably take the town down with it.

    I expect the next Sandusky a college discovers to have an fatal shower accident.  

    What's worse than the excruciatingly slow death it is dying?

    To me, this is a good question because it brings up a lot of the denial/delusions involved with serious sports fandom. "Supporting my team," right or wrong. Those that think punishment unfair are thinking: if we just put some lipstick on this pig, people will eventually forget and our tribe can still be the proud warriors and supporters we were. Like the little kid said: please say it isn't so, Joe, make it all go away, it's not really all about money, it can't be. My thoughts also run to Juvenal's bread and circuses and then to all the arenas and stadiums built across the country in recent decades that were supposed to making the local economies boom and the residents beam with pride, even those most of them can no longer afford to attend anything at those venues....

    For what's worth: Over at CNN - their online poll currently show about 71% (38,000+) think PSU got what it deserved, while 29% (15,000+) think the NCAA went to far.  There was no option of the penalty should have been worse.

    I was listening to "Mike and Mike" on ESPN radio this morning, likely to be about the most "sympathetic" response to Penn State as an institution one is likely to find outside of Penn State employees and some of its alums.  The question they were kicking around was: was it fair/appropriate to penalize the Penn State athletic "program"?  One of the co-hosts offered the view that the Penn State athletic "program" really is not anything more than the people who comprise it.  And the people who comprise it now are, entirely or almost entirely, people who had nothing to do with the heinous conduct that allowed the abuse to continue, and who then covered it up.

    It seems a fair point to raise.  The people who will be negatively affected by the sanctions will be people who were innocent of any wrongdoing.  They are just getting caught in the aftermath of this--the kids who came to Penn State to play football who knew nothing about any of this, the current coach who was brought in to try to restore integrity to the program, etc.

    But in the end I disagree that a) the Penn State athletic "program" consists only of the current people who are a part of it and b) because it does, the punishment meted out to the athletic program and the university is therefore excessive or unjustified. 

    The "program" consists as well of both the people who previously participated in it, but no longer do, and the marks they left on it.  And it consists of people who will participate in it going forward, who may be affected in a variety of ways by whatever sanctions are levied against the University for this matter.

    Penn State as an institution has now acquired--because of what has already happened to it, what happened to it today, and what will happen to it in the future with the lawsuit settlements sure to come--a very heavy incentive to avoid a repeat of what happened.  This is even though (or perhaps especially because?) none of the major actors responsible for the horrific things that happened remain alive or with the program. 

    The issue here is not limited to punishment as just desserts for wrong behavior, for its own sake.  It is also punishment meted out to try to deter a repeat of future behavior of this sort, by Penn State or any other institution of higher education. 

    My initial reaction was that a 5-year "death penalty"--meaning no football to be played at the University for the length of the penalty--seemed appropriate.  That would have sent a more powerful message.  As in: there really are things that are a hell of a lot more important than football, and great violence was done in this case to basic preconditions that need to be present in order for it to make any sense for this, or any, university charged with acting in loco parentis on behalf of the students it enrolls, to even be allowed to have a football program.  So, Penn State, you're not going to have any football for 5 years.  Take a deep breath, rethink your priorities, and make it right going forward. 

    One might have argued, against that, that the kids who enrolled in Penn State thinking they'd be playing football there a couple of years ago, say, would not deserve to be harmed by not being able to play Penn State football for the rest of their college years. 

    The program they signed up for, however, is no more.  It has for all intents and purposes blown up, and been blown up.  The people whose names were associated with its on-field success are now gone.  It has now entered a post-Paterno era, whatever that will turn out to look like off and on the field.  The kids on the team could, had a death penalty been instituted, have sought a transfer if they wanted to play football for a different institution.  The 95% of them who would never have played professional football in any case, could alternatively have invested themselves in obtaining a different kind of value from their university experience than they had planned on.  

    So I think a 5-year "death penalty" would not have been excessive or unjustified, had that been the decision instead.  In fact, I would have preferred that that had been part of the penalty as well.  It might have prompted some of the people who have heretofore thought of Penn State football as something semi-sacred to, just possibly, gain a little perspective as well, and maybe realize that, however important it has been to them, it's not.  The physical and emotional health of the students entrusted to it, was, however.

    Good for the NCAA. Not good that I have to praise them for acting like they are supposed to, but that's the way it is/has become.

    Wikipedia on History of the NCAA:

    The NCAA dates its formation to two White House conferences convened by President Theodore Roosevelt to "encourage reforms" to college football practices in the early 20th century, which had resulted in repeated injuries and deaths and "prompted many college and universities to discontinue the sport."[1] Following those White House meetings, Chancellor Henry MacCracken of New York University organized a meeting of 13 colleges and universities to initiate changes; at a follow-on meeting, 62 institutions became charter members of the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States (IAAUS).[1] The IAAUS was officially established on March 31, 1906, and took its present name, the NCAA, in 1910.[1]

    Actually, from what I can gather the NCAA, in terms of handing out punishments, has kept its focus solely on infractions in which a program sought or achieved an unfair competitive advantage.  To punish a program for illegal and immoral behavior not directly related to the sport is a first time thing for them. This is kind of uncharted territory for them - so one could debate, if one was so inclined, whether this kind of punishment was something they should do. I would say, yes, the circumstances required the actions taken, and going forward, god forbid if something similar was to occur at another institution, to hand down punishments again.

    Moreover, they handed down the penalties without first conducting their own investigation (the whole process sometimes taking up to a year to conclude), and used PSU's own investigation as the foundation for determining those penalties. Something new for them as well.

    And actually, your challenge just got me thinking on historical context. And how during TR's day, they were probably thinking mostly about preventing development of Roman-empire-style bloodthirsty sport, and instead encouraging the gentlemanly and healthy "sporting arts" in the ruling class as it were. And how some probably were thinking more of encouraging the ancient Greek model, where it also just so happens that a little male-on-male pedophilia by elders/mentors wasn't always exactly discouraged. devil Times change, that they do.

    plus what Amy Davidson said to amplify

    Regarding whether those who remain should be suffer because of the actions of those who are no longer there, two things:

    1) we still send murderers et al to prison, even though this will in many cases create a hardship, financial or otherwise, on the criminal's family who are innocent of any wrongdoing.

    2) society hands down penalties to not only punish those who have done wrong, but also to act as a deterrent to others in the future. Given the unfortunate prevalence of adults seeking to abuse children in our society, people who are similar situations like Joe Paterno and the PSU administration will more likely step forward and do the right thing (as well as organizations putting in better systems in which these types of abuse will more likely see the light of day) because of these penalties handed down.  The people who are connected to PSU today and the future have to see that, whether just or unjust in their minds, circumstances has given them this particular role in helping put an end to child abuse.

    There something fitting about the image of where Paterno's statue used to be.

    WashPost sports columnist Mike Wise, "NCAA fails to send right message by allowing games to go on", today:


    Emmert took away money, scholarships and all but congratulated himself and the organization for administering what he called “unprecedented” penalties, punitive measures that went far and beyond, he said, the NCAA’s sentencing guidelines. But he let the games go on.

    He merely showed us the same thing the late Paterno, former Penn State president Graham Spanier and two functionaries now facing criminal charges for their roles in the cover-up showed us: That no matter how heinous the scandal, college football must go on.

    With Monday’s decision not to pull the plug on the Penn State program, Mark Emmert and the NCAA essentially said that grade-fixing and paying players in the 1980s — violations that led to the “death penalty” shutdown of Southern Methodist’s football program for two seasons — was more egregious than former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky molesting pre-pubescent boys in the football building’s showers even after Paterno and others received eyewitness accounts of the behavior.



    On the way to the lynching, Gosztola et al have some dissenting voices.


    Thanks for the link.  I like to read dissenting voices.  However, I'm not sure that this clearly is one.  If it is, it is a bit of an odd and conflicted dissent.  The writer doesn't say that s/he thinks the penalties are too severe, stating at one point that they may be too severe or not severe enough. The main argument, such as it is, seems to be that others more deserving of severe punishment are not being punished in our society.  

    This one that was linked to in an update is more comprehensive and gets to the core of why what the NCAA was wrong.

    NCAA, Mark Emmert, Unitary Executives & The Death of Due Process | emptywheel


    I thought this one was well over the top.  It's clear enough that the author despises both the NCAA and the sports pundits.  Well, ok.  I get that.  But none of that is relevant to assessing what the NCAA did in this case.

    I'll pull out what seem to me the four key paragraphs in toto, to try to avoid taking these comments out of context:

    The NCAA Division One Manual and Bylaws is incredibly long, convoluted and poorly written. The one unmistakable takeaway from a review of it, though, is that it was designed for regulation of student athletes and the sanctioned competition they engage in. It is not a regulatory, nor enforcement, scheme designed to deal with criminal acts and morality, whether direct or tangential. In fact, the word “criminal” appears on exactly one out of the 426 pages of the manual (see: Manual, p. 393), and that is, somewhat hilariously, only in relation to defense and indemnification of NCAA employees – the masters and overlords – who might get called to testify or participate in civil and/or criminal proceedings. That is the full extent of the contemplated jurisdiction of the NCAA in relation to overt criminal acts, whether they be acts of commission or omission, both of which were present in the Sandusky/PSU set of facts.

    So, what is the actual original intent of the NCAA? It has been stated, and restated, over the years, but this, from the NCAA itself, is pretty much as good a synopsis as there is of the designed intent and jurisdiction:

    "The original 1906 constitution of the NCAA (IAAUS at that time) reflected a desire of the first delegates (primarily college professors) to regulate college athletics and ensure that athletic contests reflect the “dignity and high purpose of education” (Falla, p.21). During the early years of the NCAA, this was carried out by assuming a role as the chief rulesmaking body for many sports, promoting ethical sporting behavior, suggesting that athletic departments be recognized as units of instruction within each university, and debating issues such as amateurism and eligibility for competition. Many of these functions and issues are still foci for the NCAA. However, the organization’s role has expanded substantially over the years to include administration of national championships, education and outreach initiatives, marketing, licensing and promotion, communications and public affairs, membership/legislative services, and rules enforcement."

    An admirable set of goals indeed, but it does not contemplate regulation of felonious criminal behavior, even if it is tangential to a major college sports program. And, unsurprisingly, never – at least until today – has the NCAA sought to insert itself into such weighty concerns of society as a whole, as opposed to conduct in and around the “student-athlete” relationship to member universities and “competition” among them. Not until today, not until Mark Emmert arrogated upon himself the authority. But that is what unitary executives do, isn’t it? They arrogate power and abrogate due process.

    The NCAA was not "contemplating the regulation of felonious criminal behavior."  It has no authority to, nor did it seek to, mete out criminal penalties.  By its actions it is communicating that if you are going to run an athletic program there are certain implied minimal expectations, and that in this case Penn State did not meet them, under any reasonable interpretation of what those should be. 

    There would have to be a very conservative--as in very cautious and limited--implied definition of what is unacceptable conduct by a university's athletic program, meriting sanctions, precisely because...such conduct is implied.  It is not spelled out in the NCAA rules.  And so if the NCAA is going to do what it did, it had better be very careful, and mindful of the precedent it is setting.  I'm not worried that it overreached here.

    The author notes that the NCAA has assumed a role of "promoting ethical sporting behavior".  Likewise, it is noted that the initial delegates 1906 delegates wanted the NCAA constitution to reflect their desire that it ensure athletic contests reflect the dignity and high purpose of education.

    Well.  I am not struggling much to believe that the inactions of senior Penn State officials thoroughly sullied the dignity and high purpose of education at that university by calling into question the priorities and core values and commitments of the people running the institution. 

    And in re to promoting ethical sporting behavior, in what sense can "ethical sporting behavior" occur when senior officials of an institution with a mission to nurture and develop young people choose to ignore and cover up circumstances strongly suggesting hideous and devastating abuse of minor children on its premises?  Is it too much of a reach, and a dangerous slippery slope at that, to conclude that an extremely modest implicit precondition for "promoting ethical sporting behavior" is that you're not covering up sexual abuse of a minor that you've been made aware of?  What might the evil NCAA--often seen as a toothless paper tiger unwilling to take strong enough measures to police its operations--do next?

    Had you been the NCAA what would you have decided to do, or not do?

    Identified what role if any the NCAA had in this, both in terms of oversight as well as abetting untoward behavior, looked at responses that fit the mandate, and adjusted to help victims of various scenarios (pedophilia, rapes, athlete violence....) as well as the athletes and sports themselves.

    Since much of this is under the purview of the US legal system or of the schools and communities themselves, there wouldn't be need to try to cover every base - it should be to work with the different parties to make sure there's effective coverage and response, to close any gaps.

    If reprisals were necessary to focus future behavior or compliance, I would consider, but seeing as Penn State was conducting its own thorough internal investigation, and they'd fired a number of people, it's not like they weren't cooperating. So I still don't see the point of the slightly-below-nuclear response.

    At the press conference, Emmert was asked why there wouldn’t be a hearing: there wouldn’t, he said, because Penn State had agreed to everything.

    Read the rest--Davidson also makes a strong case that the response doesn't exactly reach the "slightly-below-nuclear" level. Not unless you're the kind that thinks football is the major reason that universities exist, that is. (The fine, for example, is equal to one year's gross revenue for the football program, and she covers the other major points.)

    Yes, an offer PSU couldn't refuse. No, it wasn't nuclear in the sense it didn't blow up Pennsylvania, or even the whole school, which are kinda out of the scope of college sports. It just more or less killed Penn State's sports program for a few years, even though not quite as much as saying no playing at all. "The good news is you still get to play for a shit neutered program for the next 4 years. The bad news...."

    Taking away Penn State's wins for the last umpteen years? Mindless and stupid. If Joe Paterno was found to be a brutal wife beater for all those years, would the NCAA make the same call? Should all the players - you know, the students at the school - be penalized because some of the coaches & supervisors went off the rails - outside the program? And does someone at Notre Dame care that the bowl game they lost was just magically given to them? I suppose Pete Rose's opponents should have been magically given back baseball games and stolen bases after he got caught gambling.

    The main issue is "what the hell is the penalty trying to accomplish?" If someone can explain that, maybe I can re-evaluate whether it's a good thing. But it just seems like a too-late pile-on by the organization that never dabbles too closely in running an ethical system.

    The main issue is "what the hell is the penalty trying to accomplish?"

    Well, as I wrote, I would have preferred 5 years of no football at Penn State.  Better yet if Emmert had conducted a press conference in which his first words were something like:

    "Much as we, the NCAA, share the passion for collegiate athletics felt by millions of college students, college officials, and fans throughout our country, some things are more important than the pursuit of victory on the playing fields.  Some individuals at Penn State forgot that.  What they did, and what they did not do, cannot stand insofar as this body is concerned."

    That would have communicated a message notable for coming from the NCAA itself.  The intended message--intended messages are often not the messages received--would have been directed to anyone running a collegiate athletic program, including a big-money one: You're a human being first.  Don't ever forget that.  Or you may have your ability to pursue your passion taken away from you.

    Doing it that way--leading with a direct statement that cut to the core of the issue--would have enhanced the credibility of the NCAA in my eyes, I know that.  They could have moved on from there (as they still might) to consider sensible reforms they might make to try to restore a greater sense of proportionality to big-time college football and basketball.  

    I agree that vacating the wins was silly.

    And 5 years of no football at Penn State will turn everyone into responsible, grand appreciators of human rights? Wasn't PSU already unusual as the college where athletes actually studied and got good grades?

    How many people at Penn State covered something up, vs. how many who had no idea this was going on? Even the President objected that the Freeh Report misplayed how much info he had on the matter, and since there's no followup hearings, we don't really know who's right.

    But is this punishment actually a remedy for any brewing cases elsewhere - whether pederasty or other infringements? Or just makes people feel good that someone's doing something.

    Somehow I think pulling down Paterno's statue did more to drive the point home than any of this strongarm action.

    this is a ridiculous comparison when we look at the NCAA and its role.  as i pointed out above, the NCAA has been focused solely on keeping a level playing field in terms of competition.  for the first time they have stepped in to punish a school for immoral non-sports related acts.  the NCAA should be applauded for stepping into new territory.

    They didn't do anything to solve the problem - they're just punishing after the fact and after Penn State's investigation - the Freeh Report was instigated by the Penn State trustees as an internal investigation.

    So no, I don't see that the NCAA should be applauded. They're being jackasses, and not doing anything that helps anyone - and actually hurting a whole lot of people who weren't involved.

    That's like telling homicide detectives and DAs by stepping in to punisher murderers, "well, hey, you didn't stop them from killing those people." Sorry to tell you, but sometimes, we have to come in after the fact. But in your enlightened state, tell me what the NCAA could have done prior to this that would have ensured Paterno (or the administrators) done the right thing.

    A different viewpoint:

    In Punishing Penn State, The NCAA's Hypocrisy Knows No Limit | Travis Waldron | ThinkProgress:

    The NCAA must certainly feel good about itself after it leveled the Penn State football program this morning, fining the university $60 million, banning it from post-season play for four years, reducing its scholarship allotment, and vacating 14 years of wins, punishments that will ultimately decimate the program for years to come. The Jerry Sandusky child rape scandal that led to the sanctions brought down Penn State’s president, athletic director, legendary football coach and other officials, and letting the Nittany Lions return to the gridiron as if it never happened would have seemed like an abdication of duties. Penn State, most assuredly, deserved to be punished.

    Just not by the NCAA.

    Thanks for sharing.  At the time Emmert made his remarks in 2010 lauding Paterno, what we know now was not known, certainly not by him.  Presented with new information, he responded.  Isn't that, as Keynes said, what we should hope people will do upon being presented with new information or facts?

    The NCAA has meted out punishments to universities that have violated the rules.  One would expect them to be promoters of college athletics.  I can't fault them for that.  As to whether their promotional efforts make them culpable for creating a culture of "hero worship", what specific things might they do differently that would put them back on the right side of the line between promoting college football in ways they would be expected to, versus somehow going too far and creating a hero worship culture for which they should be deemed culpable?  They are responding to the enthusiasm and passion that is there, not creating it. 

    Precisely because the NCAA is what it is, it would have been in a position to have an even larger impact by suspending college football at Penn State for a time, which I think would have come closer to sending the right message about the relative importance of football versus, most inconveniently, choosing to protect minor children who are being abused. 

    If the NCAA had chosen to do nothing, the case for it being culpable would be stronger. Can you imagine what would be said of it had that happened?  It would be charged with looking the other way or acting as an enabler that permits college football to warp the priorities of universities.  

    It, and only it, was in a position to stop football for a time at Penn State.  It chose not to do that.  I wish it had.

    If you ran a red light, you can't be less culpable by setting off flares at the intersection. I'd be more interested in the NCAA looking at what part of the problem it plays, not some holier-than-thou authority coming in to express post-scandal outrage. Shocked, shocked to find college football is ruled by money and pampering out-of-control egos to the detriment of various parts of the community.

    I just find the whole thing a bit over-the-top. Basically, child abuse goes on all the time, all over the place. Hate to call it as it is, but it is. 

    So the question becomes, when that happens, how do we want to deal with the organizations those individuals were members of, or led? Because it's not just the Catholic church or the Penn State program, it's the Boy Scouts and Congress and major corporations and airlines (fill the planes for those sex tourist trips) and casinos and ethnic groups (lotsa underage sex slavery happening as we speak) and Country Clubs and Universities (gee, can't think of any of those boys choirs people like so much ever being subjected to systemic sex abuse of children) and Olympic sports and lots of dance/music clubs and yeah, sure, lots more college football programs, and so on and so on. 
    Let me see. I'm not that old, but I know of Oxford colleges where this has gone on for ages with the choirs, and I know of small unimportant universities and their sports programs where the organized "hunting" of "Iranians" went on for many years, and churches where incest was just seen as the way certain families did things, and private Men's clubs where assaults on young girls by very wealthy young men were organized, and in each case, the legal profession and the cops and their peers and the church elders and the political parties all.... knew. 
    So what's the right response? I'm well on the side of intervention, and even a bit prone toward vigilante justice. At a minimum, prison or some other acts of social protection seem necessary and useful to me. But. Do you then effectively dismantle the organization. Because if so, pretty much all of our great fashion houses and venues and designers would be done, gone, history. As would most of our military's famous sub-units, our churches, our universities, our banks and major corporations, our professional sports teams, and yes, our political parties. 
    And yes, in almost all these cases, the practices we abhor are - to a significant degree - systemic. Or at least, know about by large numbers of people.
    It just feels like a bit of scapegoating is happening, rather than dealing with these more systemic issues. Also, I'm not yet decided what I think the ractical outcomes of finding the whole organization will be. As someone said, will any organization which discovers this has gone on for some time within its walls ever break that news again? And in the future, won't they simply aim to push certain activities outside their walls and into other, less important, organizations? 

    well, until someone comes up with a way to effectively deal with systemic issues in one singular act, we are left with these largely symbolic acts.  yes, this is but one step in the slow incremental progress toward a better society.  but if we all we have to choose is to take a small incremental step forward or no step at all, i will choose the the small incremental step.  who knows, maybe fifteen or thirty years from now, someone will be in a situation, think to themselves "hell, i'm not going to be the next Paterno" and then do the right thing.  If all of this saves just one child from what Sandusky put those kids through, it is all worth it.

    And then we get the paranoid state, where no one lets their kids play in the yard, and everyone reports everything slightly suspicious to the police, and no one treats their neighbors & colleagues that flawed but trying humans.

    1 strike & you're out, zero tolerance mentality. That's our "better society".

    Lots of people have screwed up, drug busts, got caught stealing, etc., and been put on a good path through kindness of a superior, cop, friend, etc.

    But here we haven't created any new ways of dealing with a Sandusky's problems - we've just decided the good ol' law enforcement path is the way, with huge sanctions against Penn State to set the example - that'll show 'em.

    But as Quinn notes, these problems are everywhere - will pederasty disappear because Penn State got hammered? We have these panicked "sex offender" lists, but does that make sex offenses disappear? (even though many on the lists aren't actually sex deviants, but that's another issue). We've seen how our war-on-drugs works, and our war-on-terror. Not every guy with a sex problem is Sandusky, but we'll create our one-size-fits-all solution. And I'm sure many gay kids will get caught up in the dragnet/paranoia, making getting through puberty even less pleasant.

    I don't have any sympathy for Paterno - but huge retributions against the University - outside of a court - without any actual solutions? Another grand show, shock & awe, and in 2 years or 5 years, another scandal. While Penn State's investigation came late in the day, what did the NCAA do? Oh, just levied a huge fine after the fact. Brilliant. (Rather than what Penn State was doing on its own recently and what it'll continue to do, even with its sports program destroyed).

    And of course tomorrow when a star player gets in trouble with the law, a co-ed, something else, in any of our pro college farm teams across the nation, the NCAA will treat it differently now, right?

    does sending a serial killer to a life sentence stop serial killing? no.  so let's not give them life sentences because serial killers will do as serial killers will do.  as a society, one takes a stand and makes a statement.  The NCAA has limited powers (and it has not been perfect in my opinion, and the whole big time money with football and basketball is a whole issue in and of itself), but it attempted to do what it could within it powers when confronted with what is an unprecedented event.

    We are not talking about punishing an individual who chooses the wrong path.  This is an institutional and community issue - exactly like the Catholic Church - where the system put the organization ahead of exposing and punishing a pedophile.Before this scandal, who would have thought any individuals in any football program would have looked the other way. 

    Will the punishment handed down stop pedophiles? No.  But maybe it make board of trustees be just a little more vigilant, coaches a tad more williling to ask questions, college town police forces a little more willing to investigate.

    No one will ever know what was going through Paterno's mind (and soul).  But if you think that if a university in 1997 went through this and he would have made exactly the same decisions as this, you're basically an idiot.

    Yes, child abuse happens all the time. Institutions are never going to deal with it no matter how severe the penalties on the rare institutions that get caught. People are going to have to solve this problem and the first absolutely necessary step is to talk to children about sex. If parents don't talk to their children about sex until its a comfortable completely normal discussion children won't talk to their parents about sex. They learn pretty quick its a taboo subject that's not supposed to be talked about. When children are taught that they're not supposed to talk about sex it makes it kinda hard for the kid to tell someone if they get sexually abused. And sex education in schools, yes, for 1st graders. Lots of it until talking about sex is no different than talking about how to add and subtract or spell words.

    Then hope that there's a parent or responsible adult that cares enough to do something when the child does talk.

    A couple of days out on this, it seems clear enough that the saving grace of what the NCAA did, from the point of view of those whose dominant goal was that football at Penn State should continue to be played without interruption (no footballus interruptus), is that the NCAA decision permits just that to continue.

    The justifying rhetoric is don't punish the innocent, who had nothing to do with this.  Listening to some of the players speak yesterday, the sense I have that football is just too important at Penn State, to the point of warping perspective on other matters more important, was only reinforced. 

    Dad gum it, they are going to continue to play, and they are going to play harder and better, the better to bring greater glory to their beloved Penn State.  How do they see that taking place?  What does it mean to say that?  They will play hard, they will compete hard, honorably, to the best of their ability.  Isn't that what college football players across the country do?  Why would anyone think the Penn State players would do otherwise?

    Does their loyalty to, and pride in, their University, require that they manifest that loyalty and pride by playing NCAA-sanctioned football for it?  That seems warped to me.  It suggests to me that the message that a "no football at Penn State for 5 years" would be intended to serve has not been absorbed, not really.  For them, continuing football at Penn State is still the most important thing, it seems. 

    Some who wanted no football at Penn State (I agree with those who maintain that the use of the term "death penalty" to describe such a fate further makes the point about the degree to which big-time division I college football and basketball are viewed with a lack of proportionality to their role and importance relative to other matters) for a time now wish bad things on the individual players and the team. 

    I can't relate to that sentiment.  I don't wish them bad things at all.  Truly, this isn't about them.  It's about restoring something like an appropriate degree of proportionality, of perspective on the relative importance of different values and considerations for an institution of higher education, tasked with developing young people to become worthy citizens of our country.  It's about the community of people for whom NCAA division I college football is the ultimate rush showing that they have the ability, the will and also the judgment about what is in the long-range best interests of all concerned, to forego that rush for a time.  Can they cease use of the drug for a time, just for a time?  Or does the addiction continue to exert its control over them?

    It is precisely because of the intensity of that rush that foregoing it for a time is the ultimate, but also perhaps the only clear, signal that the community of people who are passionate about big-time college football truly "get it" here, on this matter. 

    Again, no football for 5 years at Penn State does not mean that innocent athletes cannot play sanctioned NCAA division I college football.  They can transfer, and without having to sit out a year.  It does not mean they cannot attend their beloved Penn State and benefit from their experience there in untold other ways.  They can do that.  The connection between Penn State and its football program just got way out of whack, however, with tragic consequences.  Or does their devotion to Penn State in the end require their playing for a Penn State that plays division I football?  If so, what sort of a devotion is that?

    Allowing football to continue at Penn State does nothing to try to reconstitute the connection, the relationship, between Penn State and its football program to a healthier state.  It is that connection which needs to be severed for a time, with a clean break, and reconstituted in due time, with, hopefully, a chastened and healthy sense of proportion.  Not only at Penn State, but perhaps for other collegiate athletic programs and the people who run them who are prompted, and able, to reflect.

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