The NCAA Punishment of Penn State is a Farce!

I think the NCAA punishment of Penn State is a disgraceful farce! Here’s why:

While I can understand the desire to protect the institution, I do not pretend to know what went on in the heads of the four men at the center of this scandal – Paterno, Spanier, Curley and Schultz. Perhaps it is because I am in a business with reporting requirements, but to me this is brain dead. If someone says he witnessed the sexual abuse of a child, you go to the authorities. Preferably you facilitate the witness going to the authorities. Had that happened at the time, it would have been a big story, but it would have blown over. The University would have been seen as doing the right thing. What these four men did in the name, presumably, of protecting the institution has done incalculably more harm.

I didn’t read the whole Freeh report. I’m not that much of a glutton for punishment, but I did read the Executive Summary and the Timeline. I recommend everyone do so to get a feel for what the issues are. Those parts are entirely tolerable reading.

That said, this is NOT an NCAA issue. This is not about recruiting violations, academic cheating, performance enhancing drugs or some other issue that has to do with maintaining a level playing field in college sports. This is the NCAA doing something just to say it’s doing something. It is public outrage as a form of supposed action. It is an exercise in “I’m more outraged than thou.”

This is not unrelated to what Thomas Fleming calls the “pornography of compassion” that we see every time there is a shooting or whatever. The Colorado shooting has nothing to do with politics, other than perhaps the gun control issue, but Obama and Romney both felt the need to release statements, halt campaign activities, etc. Obama even flies in for a grandstanding photo op. This is shameless, but these days it is expected. Had either not done so they would have been accused of insensitivity at best, and condoning mass shootings at worst.

Precisely what NCAA rule was Penn State accused of violating? I’m sure there is some vague catchall rule that could be broadly interpreted to cover this, but moral policeman is not the NCAA’s mandate. Ensuring against cheating is. The NCAA sticking their nose in here where it doesn’t belong after the fact after other investigative authorities have done the heavy lifting  is both grandstanding for granstanding’s sake and analogous to an ex post facto law. Was Paterno paying players under the table? Was he shooting them in the butt with steroids? No one has suggested such. Penn State was as squeaky clean from this standpoint as any major college football team as far as we know. So the NCAA needs to but out and do what it is supposed to do (albeit poorly), police cheating.

To understand why this is grandstanding for the sake of doing something and the likely equally powerful sake of not being accused of doing nothing, ask yourself this. What if Sandusky had been accused of embezzling funds from Second Mile for personal gain instead of child molestation? Would these same penalties have been handed down if Paterno and company had been aware of that and failed to disclose it? So the issue here is wanting to be seen as sufficiently outraged at Sandusky’s actions and the Penn State Admin’s failure, not the technical offense.

The most ridiculous part of the sanctions is “vacating” the wins. You have got to be kidding me. “Vacating” wins is utter foolishness and hopefully sensible people will refuse to play along. Paterno is still the winningest coach in NCAA history and Penn State still won all those games and no amount of magical thinking on the part of the NCAA will ever change that.

Penn State has apparently signed on to these penalties. They likely had no real choice. Had they not they would have been accused of being insufficiently contrite. But I wish they would sue the NCAA’s pants off for their capriciousness.

There is something unsettling to me about this culture that requires visible public outrage (or obnoxious expressions of compassion about misfortunes that didn’t impact you) or else you are guilty by implication of condoning whatever behavior is being publicly condemned. This same dynamic is also one thing that gives the PC Gestapo such power. I hope our readers can see this.

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10 thoughts on “The NCAA Punishment of Penn State is a Farce!

  1. james purcell

    Disgraceful, shameful, overreaching, self serving and hypocritical action by the NCAA. This is clearly a criminal matter for the courts in regard to certain individuals employed by Penn State. The NCAA has no business or real jurisdiction to impose these sanctions based on the facts. Shameful PC behavior. The NCAA chose to punish the innocent players, students and fans of Penn State football. Their excuses and reasons are as shallow as a dew drop.

  2. Sean Scallon

    They’re calling this the “Fail Decade” as in the failure of major institutions in the country, Penn State and their reaction to Jerry Sandusky’s crimes being among them. But perhaps what’s criminal is that perps of these failures are getting away free and clear of them and without sanction, even if there’s a good indication they’re involved in criminal activities, as the “fearsome foursome” of Schultz Spanier, Curley and Paterno are concerned. Penn Staters want you to believe it was just those four and that everything else is just hunky-dory. Well I say no. The Board of Trustees was nothing more than a bunch of potted plants and there’s evidence to show of a deeper corruption given Penn State’s connections with the Seconde Mile charity in regards to a cover up. The NCAA, gentlemen, is a private organization of which Penn State is a member. Penn State signed off on these sanctions approved by the NCAA’s executive committee. Now Penn State has the option of leaving the NCAA and be the largest school with the largest football stadium in NAIA if it so chooses. Or it can take its medicine for “lack of institutional control” which is the worst such example ever seen.

    The NCAA is only hypocritical if it just stops at Penn State. I thope it doesn’t.

  3. RedPhillips Post author

    “But perhaps what’s criminal is that perps of these failures are getting away free and clear of them and without sanction, even if there’s a good indication they’re involved in criminal activities, as the “fearsome foursome” of Schultz Spanier, Curley and Paterno are concerned.”

    Paterno was fired and is now dead, beyond the reach of criminal prosecution. Spanier was fired. Schultz and Curley are no longer employed at Penn State and face charges for perjury and failure to report. Who exactly is getting away “free and clear?”

    I too have heard rumors of a larger cover-up. I don’t dismiss such rumors out of hand. We’ll see where that leads. (Funny, if anyone suggests the President is covering something up that’s a conspiracy theory.)

    This is a criminal and civil matter. The issue of “institutional failure” will come up in a civil setting, I can assure you. Who’s not guilty of anything are the Penn State players, fans, Alumni, etc. who are being punished in order to satisfy the NCAA’s need to PR grandstand and the culture’s need for periodic public sacrificial lambs. As if “vacating” Penn State’s wins is going to keep one little child from getting molested. What’s next, throwing virgins into a volcano to appease the earth god?

  4. C Bowen (Hawthorne)

    First off, Penn State and Paterno were running a corrupt program that did not live up to any standard of decency. (They are not alone.) It is entirely one thing for an outside agent to provide benefits to a player, and another, to recruit players that cannot do college work, commit acts of real violence on campus, or abuse the various welfare state programs as part of the program.

    I agree with those who see the Paterno/football thing as a distraction from the real scandal involving the politically connected Second Mile Foundation which implicate every high level politician in the state, and might lead one to conclude Freeh’s job, as it always is (look at his pathetic track record) was to run a misdirection.

    Ideally, the NCAA should go away, the teams should be independent, and the sports run by boosters and alumni in a corporate setting, aligned with a local stadium, out-lining their own rules–including paying the players, assumed with some system of discipline, but unlike the NCAA rules as they are, maybe insure they can get work during their time playing the games.

    In the existing system, the players are exploited by these institutions and receive very little for what they provide. What Penn State and the NCAA is covering up, is that Title 9 has a lot to do with the current mess.

    College football and men’s college basketball (and with a few programs, women’s college basketball) are profitable for a handful of schools, and in those cases, have to fund the rest of the athletic departments, with massive subsidies to women’s sports that are necessary to maintain Title 9 compliance. The jobs provided to coach and administer women’s sports are well compensated (they have to be by law).

  5. Pingback: Greek Olympian Banned for Politically Incorrect Tweet | Conservative Heritage Times

  6. RedPhillips Post author

    C Bowen, your criticism is a criticism of the sytem, some of which I agree with. My criticism is a criticism of this NCAA’s action in the system we have, for better or for worse.

  7. DYD

    It’s unfortunate they don’t abolish the program completely.

    ‘Collegiate’ sports have become so in name only. The so-called ‘students’ who play are mostly in fact professional athletes who have little ability or interest in academics.

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