The NCAA sanctions on Penn State and why they aren’t enough

Published On July 23, 2012 | By Tanya Ray Fox

NCAA president Mark Emmert announces sanctions against PSU Monday morning. (Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE)

The following are the sanctions that were handed down by the NCAA on Penn State University in relation to the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal and its subsequent cover up by multiple PSU administrators and staff. Staff members currently facing prosecution in the cover-up include former vice president Gary Schultz and currently suspended athletic director Tim Curley, who are charged with perjury and failure to report suspected child abuse.

$60 Million Fine

This counts for approximately one year of gross revenue from the Penn State football program, to be dispersed over a five-year period into an endowment fund for “programs preventing child sexual abuse and/or assisting the victims of child sexual abuse.”

Loss of Bowl Revenue

This is estimated to cost Penn State about $13 million over four years. The money will instead be donated to “established charitable organizations in Big Ten communities dedicated to the protection of children.”

Vacated Wins

Every Penn State win from 1998-2011 has been vacated. This results in Joe Paterno no longer holding the record for most coaching wins in college football, as he loses 111 wins.  The school loses 112 wins total, including the one win they had over Ohio State after Paterno was fired on Nov. 9, 2011.

Four-Year Postseason Ban

Penn State is banned from playing in any bowl game, the Big Ten championship game, or the national championship game through the 2016 season.

Waiver of Transfer Rules for Football Players

All current PSU football players are released from their commitment to PSU and are immediately eligible to transfer without having to sit out the requisite one year normally required. Furthermore, football players who choose to continue their education at PSU without playing football may keep their scholarships as long as they maintain their normal academic requirements.

Significant Loss of Scholarships

Starting with this year’s 2012 season and going through the 2016 season, PSU can only sign 15 recruits per year rather than the usual 25 per year. Starting in the 2014 season, the Nittany Lions can only have 65 players on scholarship until after the 2017 advertisement season. Usually the scholarship limit for major Division I programs is 85.

Consent Decree

PSU and the NCAA agreed that the university will follow a number of imposed conditions and requirements. Among those are the following, all of which were suggested in the Freeh report:

– Hire an independent monitor of the athletic department who will report to the NCAA, the Big Ten Conference and the Penn State Board of Trustees quarterly on the school’s progress and make recommendations to help implement the terms of the agreement.

– Appoint a compliance officer and have him or her lead a council of faculty and senior administrators that will oversee ethical and legal matters.

– Create a hotline for anonymous questions or disclosure of issues regarding athletic department and NCAA issues.

– Provide yearly training on “issues of ethics, civility, standards of conduct and reporting of violations.”

Possibility of Further Individual Sanctions

The NCAA maintains the right to enforce further penalties after the conclusion of any criminal proceedings for Schultz, Curley and possibly former president Graham Spanier, although as of now Spanier has not been formally charged with anything despite being found at fault in the Freeh report.

What does it all really mean for Penn State?

These sanctions are being widely described as “crippling” to Penn State’s football program and to the legacy of Joe Paterno and the institution itself. Without a chance at the postseason for four years and with current players allowed to jump ship without ramification, the football program will most likely see very little on-field success for at least a decade.

Still, they will have football. The loyal State College community will fill the stadium as they always have and will rise up in defiance against the sanctions that they view as unjust. Rather than the hollowness of empty locker rooms and shower stalls where horrific acts of child molestation and rape took place, there will be a regular football season with a full team and a full staff. The cheerleaders will still cheer and the band will still play.

The repercussions of the most appalling scandal in the history of collegiate athletics will allow the show to go on, just with less success. While hundreds of people suffer every day of their lives with the implications of the crime and depravity that took place under the purposefully blind eye of the PSU football program, the PSU football program will merely “suffer” the consequences of diluted success and prestige.

Joe Paterno’s statue now collects dust in a basement in the bowels of the university. Yet the lives he directly affected by placing his power and legacy at the helm of his morality have endured far worse than a banished bronze manifestation of unmitigated idol-worship.

It is not crippling to have less athletically talented football players wearing your uniforms.

It is not crippling to take millions from an institution that has billions.

It is not crippling to give twenty less scholarships a year than you normally do, or to hand out individual sanctions to men who are already criminals in the eyes of the law.

What’s crippling is to be the victim of continued sexual molestation and rape, while men with the power to help you instead cowardly turned away in order to protect their game. To grow up and try to reconcile the fact that the game of football came at the expense of your innocence, your childhood, your health, your lifethat is crippling.

The game of football – its worship and its glorification – gave Jerry Sandusky a nearly impenetrable veil of protection while he wreaked havoc for decades. These sanctions uphold the importance of that game, and therefore continue to enable its toxically misguided veneration.

Wind should whistle through an empty Beaver Stadium every Saturday this year as a weekly moment of silence for the terror that was committed in its name. The NCAA did not cripple Penn State football; they merely put it in the basement to collect dust for a while.

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