Column: Exactly who is the NCAA punishing?

Jerry Sandusky deserves every punishment he's received, and more, for the horrific actions he took against several young boys during his tenure as defensive coordinator at Penn State.
Matt DeYoung
Jul 24, 2012

Those who knew of Sandusky’s dastardly transgressions and turned a blind eye to protect the football program also deserve to be condemned to the fullest extent of the law.

The actions they took — or in some cases didn’t take — are completely unforgivable.

But on Monday, when the NCAA levied its sanctions on Penn State for Sandusky’s actions, I couldn’t help but wonder, who’s being punished here?

The school is being fined $60 by the NCAA, and will lose out on the Big Ten’s bowl revenues for the next several years. That’s fine. Hit them where it hurts the most — in the pocket book.

But a vast reduction in scholarships, and a four-year bowl ban? Those sanctions don’t punish Sandusky. He’s locked up in a jail cell and will remain there for the rest of his life. What does he care if Penn State’s playing in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1?

Instead, the NCAA’s unprecedented penalties will crush the hundred-plus student athletes on the Penn State roster, the thousands of students and faculty at the school, and the millions of Penn State fans across the country.

What did any of those people do to deserve this?

Nothing.

This situation once again exhibits just how broken the landscape of college sports has become. Those few bad apples that get in trouble ruin it for everyone else, and when the penalties come down, it’s the innocent who pay the price.

Look at USC. Reggie Bush and his family took money and gifts from boosters. How was he punished? He gave back his Heisman trophy, but was able to keep his job as an NFL running back making millions of dollars a year.

At the same time, the student-athletes currently at USC were the ones who took the brunt of the punishment as the school was banned from postseason play for two years and saw its number of scholarships greatly reduced.

You can even go back to the Fab Five’s time at Michigan. Chris Webber and a few other players took money from booster Ed Martin. The coaching staff should have seen what was going on, but they looked the other way.

Who gets punished? Michigan basketball fans, who watched their once-elite program get thrown into the trash heap for a decade before it was able to recover.

Penn State avoided the dreaded “Death Penalty” from the NCAA — completely shutting down the program for a year. But the sanctions Penn State did receive will effectively shut down the Nittany Lions football program for years to come.

And who gets punished? The current players, coaches and the fans.

I understand the need for swift and harsh penalties in this situation. I understand the NCAA feels the need to set a precedence, to say that no sports team is bigger than the wellbeing of those young boys who went through hell at the hands of Jerry Sandusky.

I simply feel that the NCAA has a habit of levying sanctions that punish the wrong people.
 

Comments

truthhurts

i think the football program got a rightful punishment from the NCAA. What is unfair is the forever negative shadow casted over the University as a whole. But you should also note that any player can transfer out of the program without sitting out for a year per NCAA typical rules. So basically, they gave the students a choice, stay or transfer without penalty which is fair. So they way I see it, only the program is being punished, not the athletes. The athletes just have to deal with the inconvience of transferring.

Bowlingguy300

I agree with all the punishments... but one. I dont agree with the losing all the wins for 13 years. That hurts the players that worked there butts off for them 13 years. and them players had nothing to do with that sick man doing what he did.

opinionscount

Absolutely NO SYMPATHY here. These are called "consequences". Sandusky, Paterno, and others involved were hired by Penn State to represent the university, not themselves as individuals. This was one of the very worse cover-ups I believe I've ever heard of, and the lives of the victims will never be the same. The NCAA is acting as advocates for the victims in their attempt to bring justice against these very horrific acts of evil. No amount of money will un-do the irresponsibility of the Penn State staffers who chose to keep these immoral acts hidden in their efforts to save their reputations and that of their colleague. As for removing the wins for 13 years, I'm in full agreement with this decision, as well. The actions taken by the NCAA will hopefully be an example of what will come to those who choose to abuse their positions of authority in all universities across the nation. God heals, and I pray that these victims do find healing and closure to their unfathomable experiences.

Go Blue

Horrible article, the author of this garbage should be embarrassed

michiglen

Yes, the NCAA decision does have a lot of innocent victims. But isn't that where this all started...

Fly on the Wall

PSU didn't get even half of what it deserved. The institution is a scourge. Plow under the entire athletic complex and plant corn or build some classrooms.

This is meant to punish all of you muscleheads who think an academic institution's value is based on sports teams, and the fawning wal-mart wolverines that feed the monster.

edit-spelling 7-26

43°North

to answer the author's question...Penn State, and that is exactly who should be punished by the NCAA. They should they punish the guy in jail? Really?

And it seems that someone like the author who is a staff sports writer would know that a college organization has nothing to do with pro sports! (Reg Bush)

This Tribune staff sure takes the cake with their idiotic comments! "the wrong people"...My question to Mr. DeYoung would be...who do you think they should have punished, just those who knew, right? Those same people held the welfare of the sports program in their hands, so the program suffers, the players suffer, the school suffers, as it should because of the actions of a few in power.

Spartan98

Your article on the PSU / NCAA sanctions this week seemed uninformed with misplaced sympathies. The penalties were not meant to punish Sandusky. I think you know this, but still attempted to draw this conclusion. The penalties were not meant to punish the uninvolved student body. I think you realize this too.

What I don’t think you understand is the true nature of the problem at PSU. This is not punishment for the acts of individuals. There is a culture that allowed these horrific acts to continue. A culture exists that prioritized a football program above decency and humanity. Sandusky was an evil individual, but he was aided, hidden, supported, and promoted by several leaders responsible for the promotion of this culture.

The current student body and administration is still not empathetic to what has happened over the last decades. Up until just a couple weeks ago, an active denial of involvement was still taking place by those lacking the empathy to believe the unbelievable. Even after the first of these trials brings clear evidence of the program’s involvement, the sports photographers are capturing images of weeping students - crying over the punishment; not the crime. You’ve joined this group.

The NCAA sanctions are an attempt to break a culture. At this point, after decades of cultural belief, there is no other body that has influence over this organization. Examine your own outrage that leaked through in this week’s editorial. Why are you so offended? You’ve placed a lot of emphasis on the game.
Now imagine you’re PSU alumni, current student, Director of Athletics, or other part of this culture. Imagine how hard you’ve worked to support a program, would you protect it? How far would you go?
Those closest to PSU will have a hard time understanding why this is necessary. I think there will be a generation that still can’t believe Joe Pa let us down. But I believe the NCAA took a step in the right direction to disrupt what became too big, too powerful, and too misguided.

GH55

This column is a typical response to the sad problem of sports worship at any cost. These programs involve too much money. The coaches make too much money! The sponsors and fans pay too much money! It cost over $265,000,000 to renovate the Michigan stadium. What a waste for something that is used maybe 8 times a year! What could that money do for students as scholarship money. But then the football program benefits 100 players. That is sad.
Title IX tried to spread some of this opportunity and money around but it obviously has not gone far enough. There is too much money involved for truth to ever be a factor in any of these issues. All efforts will be made to either win (drugs) or maintain the cash cow!

MeanSmith

I just think its crazy that they fined Penn St. $60..

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