Robert A. Teegarden's Blog

July 23, 2012

Penn State NCAA Penalties: Not Good Enough

Filed under: Education,Ends of Education,Sports — by Robert @ 10:19 am
Tags: , , ,

The NCAA’s so-called sanctions against Penn State for the Sandusky/Paterno et al criminality simply doesn’t go far enough, not by a long shot.  Here’s the premise of the NCAA’s statement about their sanctions:

“No price the NCAA can levy with repair the damage inflicted by Jerry Sandusky on his victims,” he said, referring to the former Penn State defensive coordinator convicted of 45 counts of child sex abuse last month.

The NCAA concerned itself with collateral damage from this situation, mostly to the future.  The damage control seems to concern itself with present players, potential players and possible future activities.  It’s’ hard to undo what has been done.  But the point is this: the Penn State “culture” abandoned right reason and common sense morality in favor of its reputation and win-loss record.

Yes, Sandusky has been found guilty in a court of law. But the court records and the independent research indicate a far deeper and more troubling culture of deceit and cover-up. The sanctions admit that this “culture” goes deeper and has a much longer history than that advertised in the Sandusky trial. It’s to that “culture” that I address the following.

Penn State sanctions

• $60 million fine
• Vacation of wins from 1998-2011 (112 wins)*
• Four-year postseason ban
• Players may transfer and play immediately at other schools
• Athletic department on probation for five years
* Joe Paterno record now 298-136-3; fifth on FBS all-time list

$60 million fine         The NCAA said the $60 million was equivalent to the average annual revenue of the football program. The NCAA 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.”

With two or three phone calls, Penn State will have donors lined up to cover those costs.  But how does this address the deeper, institutional and “cultural” roots of such a disaster.  This behavior didn’t happen over night.  Records indicate that this took time.  How many more victims are out there who haven’t come forward?  If there is an institutional mindset that protects child abuse, what other kinds of “lesser” abuses have or are taking place as we speak?  If the Penn State win-at-all-costs “culture” shields these things, what else is being protected?  No, the roots go deeper.

Vacation of wins from 1998-2011 (112 wins)          I suppose that this is really the meat of the NCAA’s authority in this situation; it’s the best they choose to do. But it doesn’t make sense.  So the records are adjusted to reflect what?  You didn’t play fair? You weren’t living up to the NCAA rules and regulations?  From the point of view of the victims, I’d say, “So what?”  Future scholarships for players are not given based on the track record of the school.  They’re given for present performance, period.  But the sense of history here does indicate the need to go deeper into the culture that allowed and protected this kind of abuse.

Four-year postseason ban    There’s big money in the post-season play-offs.  But this attacks only the pocket book, not the “culture” that gave rise to such heinous behavior.  Penn State could easily arrange its own post-season games, eliminating the potential loss.  But the beat goes on.

“There is incredible interest in what will happen to Penn State football,” Ray said at the news conference. “But the fundamental chapter of this horrific story should focus on the innocent children and and the powerful people who let them down.”

The Big Ten fully supports the NCAA’s actions, saying in a news release it is officially hereby condemning and censuring the school for “egregiously” failing on “many levels — morally, ethically and potentially criminally.”

Of course they would.  But this is like the politician saying, “It’s for the kids.”  What they’re really thinking about is their own football possibilities.

Players may transfer and play immediately at other schools        Now this makes sense.  Present and future students may transfer immediately to other schools IF they are wanted and IF they have room. This acknowledges some of that collateral damage.  But what does this do for the victims known and unknown?  How does this help the “culture” that seems engrained in this institution?

Athletic department on probation for five years                This basically says don’t mess up for another five years. If you do, then this suspension/probation turns into what?  Expulsion?  The five years should be institutionalized a bit deeper.

Joe Paterno record now 298-136-3; fifth on FBS all-time list       Like the vacating of the school’s record, this is an empty gesture.  Leave the dead to bury the dead.  One cannot deny past victories or losses; they are a matter of history.  But so is the history of the institutional culture that allows these crimes to be committed.

There are some noble gestures directed at children:

Penn State’s proceeds from Big Ten bowl revenues from the four years, amounting to an estimated $13 million, will be allocated “to established charitable organizations in Big Ten communities dedicated to the protection of children,” the conference said.

But these gestures are only that: gestures…

Penn State, in a statement released less than an hour after the sanctions were revealed, said it will accept them and that the “ruling holds the university accountable for the failure of those in power to protect children and insists that all areas of the university community are held to the same high standards of honesty and integrity.”

Individuals and institutions don’t “bounce back” from tragedy, nefarious or otherwise, until they’ve hit rock bottom.  Penn State is at rock bottom, whether or not they recognize it. Now that needs to be institutionalized so that they can start over.  $60 million in finds, an erasure of past victories, future post-season closures, and probation are not rock bottom.

Except for some minor hand-slapping, these rulings don’t go anywhere near holding “the university accountable.”  What the Penn State should have added is, “In accepting these sanctions and in order for us to eliminate the viral infections of the past and build on what is right, we will not compete in intercollegiate football for four years. There will be no football at Penn State for four years.”

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