Penn State fallout shouldn't include NCAA
Jul 16, 2012
A considerable amount of time behind bars is the only appropriate punishment for those involved in covering up Jerry Sandusky's crimes against children.
By all accounts, those involved will eventually see jail or pay through the nose in civil lawsuits. Everything else is a waste of time and effort.
Yet here we are, several days removed from the initial damage of former FBI Director Louis Freeh's internal investigation into Penn State, and peripheral subject matter remains in the headlines. Whether it's the persistent hand-wringing over Joe Paterno's statue or calls for the NCAA to add their own form of toothless punishment, the content driving columnists to opine and talk radio to get phone lines to light up is rather base.
It makes sense to a degree since even the most complicated matters, such as a presidential election, are eventually reduced to superficial topics. But in the case of Paterno, the over-the-top punitive measures floated out since Thursday's Freeh report are born out of folks feeling duped. Especially by those who helped deify Paterno during his coaching tenure and after his death.
Those same people who helped build the Paterno brand in the media appear to be playing a game of who can show the most outrage. Rick Reilly of ESPN and Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post, who have every right to be angered by the fact they helped perpetuate the lie, came out with their keyboards blazing. They left the statue and the entire football program as the collateral damage of that anger.
Slight problem. The NCAA handles NCAA issues, and they do so rather poorly. What happened at Penn State is not one of those issues and there is no punishment in their bylaws for such crimes.
Taking away scholarships? Scrubbing wins? The so-called death penalty? Please.
The five programs that have been given the harshest penalty by the NCAA all involved matters of recruiting, ineligible student-athletes, academic fraud, boosters, etc. From the infamous transgressions of Southern Methodist University to the most recent "death penalty" handed down to MacMurray College's Division III tennis program, the NCAA is in the business of policing their own draconian rulebook. The NCAA does not have bylaws that cover what happened at Penn State.
The real world will take care of it. Athletic director Tim Curley, former president Graham Spanier and former VP of Finance and Business Gary Schultz all face jail time. The university faces civil lawsuits that many experts believe will result in over $100 million is settlements. The university could lose federally funded financial air because those in leadership positions did not follow the Clery Act, which requires institutions to disclose reports of certain crimes to university security or local police.
Shutdown football to appease your sensibilities? The same sensibilities that enabled football to become the prime money maker, which feeds other athletic programs? It doesn't make sense.
As for the statue, it's debatable if effigies should even be built for something as trivial as a sporting event. But hey, schools are in the monument making business.
Because of that, one has to examine why they're built in the first place - for accomplishments in the given sport. Paterno has a statue for the same reasons Bobby Bowden and Nick Saban have their own busts gracing the stadium grounds.
Bowden has actually been a vocal proponent of taking Paterno's statue down, which is a take that would make Silky Johnson blush. This is the same coach who had an academic scandal yank wins from the history books, so spare the notion statues are built for more than just wins.
And Paterno won. 409 games to be exact, along with three Big Ten titles and two national championships. That's going to get a coach a statue at any university in America.
And as a country, we have built and left monuments standing for much more complicated figures. Paterno is no different and the sculpture should be embraced for the complexities of his legacy.