Monday, July 23, 2012

As Athletics Overshadow The Law, Penn State Gets What It Deserves

So many lessons... Penn State's shameful child-sexual-abuse scandal involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky exposes how athletics at the university level are accustomed to living above the law. 

Athletes slide through four years without passing the same academic muster as other students; they are awarded gargantuan scholarships for being able to throw a ball instead of use their brains; and, worst of all, college officials typically turn the other way when it comes to behavior that would be deemed unacceptable in any other forum (except, perhaps, the scandal-ridden Catholic church).

Looking at the faces of the Penn State University students who are aghast that the college was forced to pay for its sins pretty much says it all. Media reports say some actually wept out of disappointment! (These are the same students who held a demonstration when shamed Coach Joe Paterno was fired.)

On Monday, the NCAA took an unprecedented step in punishing the school for letting Sandusky slide for decades, just so its athletics program might continue to excel. The school was fined $60 million, banned from bowl games for four years and had a share of athletic scholarships stripped away. And perhaps best of all, every one of Penn State's wins from 1998 to 2011 has been stricken from the record. "The Penn State case has provoked in all of us a deeply emotional response and shaken our confidence in many ways," NCAA President Mark Emmert said. The sanctions were intended to help Penn State "rebuild a culture that went terribly awry."

Emmert added that a "grave danger" of university sports programs is that they "can become too big to fail, indeed too big to even challenge."

The $60 million will be used to create an endowment to help prevent child sexual abuse. It equates one year's revenue for the football team, Emmert said. Being deemed ineligible for Big Ten championship games for four years will cost the university its $13 million share of bowl game revenues.

The moves follow a report this month from former FBI Director Louis that proved longtime Head Football Coach Joe Paterno and other university officials didn't act on allegations of sexual abuse involving Sandusky. He was convicted in June on 45 counts related to abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period, starting in 1994.

On Sunday, Penn State also removed a seven-foot statue of the late Paterno outside the school's Beaver Stadium. The 900-pound bronze artwork was an "obstacle to healing," the university said. *