Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Penn State "Situation"

Friday night, I was having a conversation with some friends while my wife and I were on a camping trip.  It was a weekend we had feared a little bit because we had never left our children (ages 19 and 14) home alone for more than one night for the first time ever.  As it turned out, everything was fine.  They even got up early on Sunday and drove 25 miles to a place they like to go for breakfast.  They also gave us the bill for the food, but we are the parents, so I guess that's fair.

So, on Friday night, after dinner, the subject of college football and Penn State came up.  There were four people in the conversation - two married couples.  One of the couples (my wife and I) have extensive ties to PA and Penn State.  The other couple has no such ties, and they are not especially interested in college football.

As we discussed the NCAA sanctions against Penn State, I tried to make a couple points.  First, I didn't think the NCAA had the authority to impose the penalties that they chose.  However, the university accepted the penalties, so someone believed that the NCAA had authority or that the penalties were appropriate or both.  So, let's ignore that belief.

I also made the point that I thought the wrong people got punished by the NCAA sanctions.  By the wrong people, I meant the residents of PA whose state university will pay the fines and absorb other lost revenues.  I meant the students.  I meant the football players - past and present.  Other Penn State athletes outside the football program.  And, the fans - all of them.  The death penalty would have even punished athletes at a number of other schools, but this did not happen.

It is easy to make the counterpoint that most, if not all, of those people were part of the "culture" that seemed to value winning above anything else.  Therefore, even by creating expectations for success, everyone "sinned".  But, I have a hard time with that argument, to be honest.

I've seen a lot of people take exception with the Freeh report, stating that the conclusions do not match the information in the main document.  Most, if not all, of them have been PA residents and Penn State fans.  I haven't read the entire document, so I can't really comment there.  I've seen a lot of hatred on the web towards PSU and their "delusional" fans, and I even saw one post calling them "dillusional", whatever that means.  There isn't even an implication of guilt.  Many people seem to be saying that being a fan equals being a child molester - an explicit accusation against all fans.

One of the people in our conversation asked me what I thought the punishment from the NCAA should have been.  To be honest, I had not even considered what it should be, only that I think what was done was wrong.  For days, I've been thinking this question over, and I'm still not sure I have an answer.

Jerry Sandusky is a convicted child molester and what he did cannot be undone.

A number of university employees are apparently guilty of covering up the crimes, and by doing so, perpetuating them.  That is disgusting.  I would say unforgivable, but I hope I haven't gotten to a point in my life where I find anything ultimately unforgivable, no matter how much I hate the crime.

So, for the handful of readers I have out there, I have a question.  What should have been done to PSU in terms of punishment.  By whom?  And, why?

Vitriolic responses, especially without justification, will be deleted.  Sorry.  My blog, my rules.  Call it censorship if you will, but I'd love to see a reasoned conversation here.  Or maybe nothing at all because no one cares other than a few delusional Penn State fans.


Harriet said...

I think that the NCAA got it right. The problem is that the university had lost control of the program; Paterno and the football team were directing things. Hence the university gets to get a smaller program and have it until they demonstrate university control.

Players: big 10 schedule, play in a huge stadium and they are even eligible for the "division trophy", though not for a birth in the Big Ten Championship game.

Jeff Farbaniec said...

Damon, as you know I have no particular interest in PSU football or college football in general. That said, I think that the NCAA did not go far enough. I think the NCAA should have also demanded the resignation / replacement of all University administrative officials responsible for oversight of Sandusky, Paterno and the athletic program, and resignation of the entire Board of Trustees. Those are the individuals directly responsible for this disaster and they are the ones who should be directly punished.

I have no problem with the $60M fine, the post-season ban, scholarship reduction and the vacating of prior wins. If innocent student-athletes are "harmed" by these sanctions, they are free to transfer to other schools. If fans, businesses that rely on PSU football, and the community around PSU are harmed, so be it. In a way, it is like a corporation that closes a factory in a small town or goes bankrupt: a lot of people who had nothing to do with the business's failure get hurt. PSU, its athletic program, its administrators and trustees committed a terrible crime. IMO it's both unavoidable and fair PSU's "owners" may suffer the consequences and fallout from this scandal - the state of Pennsylvania, alumni, students and other stakeholders (including fans) who entrusted the administrators and trustees with oversight of the athletic program.

Damon said...

Jeff, good points. I agree that the entire BoT should be gone, and I think PA's governor should be gone from the board and from the governor's office. I think the trustees were quick to accept the Freeh report and the sanctions in an effort to deflect attention away from their own culpability.