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The dilemma of the Joe Paterno statue reached its conclusion Sunday morning just after dawn. The statue was no longer an honorable representation of a great coach; it would serve as a constant reminder of an elaborate, more-than-decade-old cover up of child sexual assault. Common sense persevered, thankfully. It was deconstructed, and we are left with the iconic image of the now infamous Joe Paterno being carried away. Penn State officials got this one right. Next up: the NCAA.
Much discussion has existed about the possibility of the NCAA levying penalties on the Penn State football program in the aftermath of the Sandusky case. Some argue the only way to handle this disaster is to let the proper legal authorities have their way with the university and the scandal’s key members, and that the NCAA should not meddle in such non-sports related issues. And why punish so many people for the crimes of only a few, especially when said crimes occurred away from football?
Until recently, I was on the fence on the issue. I considered all the innocent bystanders, and there will be many, that would be penalized from actions that occurred years ago, and actions they had zero knowledge of. I understood the effects of the possible sanctions and how long they could potentially bring down the university’s athletic department. I also wondered if the NCAA would be overstepping its authority. After all, what did all this have to do with the product on the field? It’s the National Collegiate Athletic Association. This wasn’t an athletic issue. It’s not like any of this gave the Nittany Lions an unfair on-field advantage. It had nothing to do with football.
Then I realized how wrong I was, how moronic that sounded. This is not just a legal issue. It’s about the university administration, the dictatorial culture of the program, and it is most definitely about football. All about football, actually. Why? The main catalyst for hiding years and years of child rape was to protect the squeaky clean facade of the football program, the football program Joe Paterno worked tirelessly to protect and uphold. And he was more than capable of single-handedly dictating the process following the first account in 1998. He had ultimate sovereignty in State College, Pennsylvania. He exercised it, too, all in the name of the football program. The entire coverup was football motivated. Every time, since he gained knowledge of Sandusky’s actions, Paterno sat down in living rooms of recruits to pitch the Penn State football program, he lied to them, and he lied to their parents. Paterno would often send letters to recruits claiming PSU as “the cleanest program in the country.” It was about his image, the program’s image, football revenue, and wins. The victims were not only an afterthought, but seemingly not even entered into the decision-making equation.
The NCAA reached their ruling, and they delivered the news Monday morning. In my opinion, their sanctions are justified.
Penalties levied by the NCAA:
It’s not the death penalty that many were speculating, but Penn State football had all their limbs lopped off. These sanctions could potentially set the Penn State football program back a decade or more. Revenue, recruiting, coaching, fan support, perception – everything will be greatly affected.
To the Penn State fans, students, alumni, and current football players, you got a raw deal. You’re upset, and rightfully so. You don’t deserve this, and you have my sympathy. Just remember something, though – the NCAA is not to blame here. Your university’s administration, and more directly, the man pictured above who is being so aptly cloaked and carried off to pasture is. He pulled the cloak over your eyes for over a decade, and many child sexual assault victims were the result – all because of college football.
Follow me on Twitter @RogerDornTFM