LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
“Toe your line and play their game
Let the anesthetic cover it all
Till one day they call your name
You know it’s time for the hammer to fall”
“Hammer to Fall” ´©Queen Music Limited
Their name was called Monday, and the hammer did fall on Penn State, as the NCAA handed down sanctions that, while it wasn’t the dreaded “death penalty,” it was close enough.
A four-year football postseason ban, $60 million fine, all wins dating to 1998 must be vacated, a reduction of 10 initial and 20 total scholarships each year for a four-year period, plus six bowl wins and two conference championships erased.
Plus, the Penn State athletic program will also be put on five-year probation and must work with an athletic-integrity monitor of the NCAA’s choosing.
If there is good news to come out of this, the players on the Penn State football team will be allowed to transfer and play immediately for other schools, just like when Southern Methodist University was hit with the death penalty in the 1987. Before the sanction, SMU was a storied football program, going 52-19-1 from 1980 through 1986.
Since 1989, SMU has defeated only two ranked teams and have had only three winning seasons, going 64-158-3. The Mustangs did not return to a bowl game until 2009. Not only did the death penalty hurt SMU, it also decimated the Southwest Conference, contributing to the collapse of the entire conference in 1996. I believe that it might take Penn State almost as long to once again become a power in football, but I don’t think overall it will have the same effect on the Big 10 as it did the SWC.
Of course, all this stems from the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse case and Penn State officials covering up the information, as the Freeh Report disclosed last week. According to the report, several high ranking Penn State officials, including former coach Joe Paterno, knew of Sandusky’s crimes and failed to prevent them.
With the vacating of wins, Paterno, who was the all-time leader in wins with 409, now drops to 12th with 298 wins. Plus, the statue of Paterno has been taken down from the front of Beaver Stadium at Penn State.
Ironically with the wins taken away, the last official win for Penn State had Mike McQueary at quarterback. Yes, the same Mike McQueary who reported seeing Sandusky in the shower with one of the young victims.
I would say that all other schools should learn a lesson from this, but they won’t. They didn’t learn from the SMU situation, which also had signs of a cover-up. Of course, this case was a lot different than most other cases the NCAA has had to deal with. This didn’t involve recruiting or paying athletes. Child sexual abuse is much, much worse. So the NCAA was treading into uncharted territory, as NCAA president Mark Emmert pointed out last week before making any decision on sanctions.
“In the Penn State case, the results were perverse and unconscionable,” Emmert said.
The $60 million fine, according to the NCAA, is the equivalent to the average revenue of the football program. But the NCAA won’t benefit from this fine. They have ordered Penn State to pay the penalty funds 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.”
Then later Monday morning, the Big Ten imposed its own sanctions on Penn State, which includes being ineligible for the Big Ten conference championship for four years, and since they will be ineligible, they will be ineligible to receive its share of Big Ten Conference bowl revenues over those same four years, estimated to be approximately $13 million, which will be donated to established charitable organizations in Big Ten communities dedicated to the protection of children.
“The intent of the sanctions imposed today is not to destroy a great university, but rather to seek justice and constructively assist a member institution with its efforts to reform. From this day forward, as Penn State continues to make amends, the Big Ten Conference and its member institutions will continue to engage with them in every aspect of conference membership,” the conference said in a release.
This, my friends, is what happens when an individual or program becomes bigger than the university. Penn State was football. Joe Paterno was Penn State. He knew what Sandusky was doing, yet he didn’t take stronger actions to make sure it never happened again.
The Paterno family continues to issue statement after statement, trying to maintain JoePa’s legacy, talking about all the good he did for the university and community. But like I’ve said before, any good that he did do was washed away once it became fact that he knew what Sandusky was doing yet did nothing to stop it.
Former Penn State football players have come out complaining about taking the wins away from games that they played in, that it wasn’t fair. To those people I say this: Get over it. Was it fair what Sandusky, a member of the coaching staff, did to those young boys? You played in those games, you know you won them. Just because the record book says differently know doesn’t matter.
Many of the fans are also upset by the sanctions. If you are a true Nittany Lion fan, you will continue to fill Beaver Stadium. Hey, it could have been worse. If Penn State hadn’t accepted these sanctions, they were facing the possibility of multiple years without a football program.
No amount of money fined will help those young men who were sexually abused by Sandusky.
Penn State might have avoided the death penalty, but its football program will be hooked up to life support for many years to come.
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
“Toe your line and play their game
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