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?
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.