You’ve all seen the headlines by now.
Joe Paterno’s statue has been moved; to where is a mystery to me. Frankly, I don’t really care. It’s gone. Nothing else to see here.
Not so fast Penn State. You’re going to want to put this leather strap in your mouth. This will not be pleasant.
Let’s flash backwards here: NCAA President Ray Emmert had a stack of papers to read. Court documents. The Freeh report. Letters from fans and non-fans. Angry fans. Pleading fans. Worried colleagues.
The job of the NCAA is to maintain a rule book for collegiate sports both on and off the field. Over the years, the association has grown arms, grabbing collegiate sports in a deadly full-nelson of power. It issues “the only recognized championships”. It decided to use the BCS instead of the bowl games, and more recently added a mini-playoff.
The NCAA also seems to have turned into just another conglomerate, more interested in the making of money than in the good of the game. College football has turned into a multi-billion dollar industry driving television stations and advertisements to the forefront of decisions made by high school athletes, college presidents and fans alike.
Instead of protecting the student-athletes (especially in major market sports like football and men’s basketball), the NCAA seems to protect the interests of big business. It was already getting bad, even to the point of South Park satirizing the practices of the NCAA and referring to the athletes as slaves. Quite honestly, they aren’t far off. Schools and advertisers and television networks make billions of dollars every season. Coaches make upwards of five million dollars a year. Students receive nothing but their scholarship letter. No, getting a free education does NOT balance that out.
Then came Jerry Sandusky. Then came Joe Paterno and the Penn State administration. Then came potentially the most disgusting scandal in American sports history.
There were no rules of the game broken. No recruiting violations. No cheating coaches. No one sold their jerseys.
Instead, ten young boys (and who knows if there were more that couldn’t or didn’t speak up for various reasons) lost their innocence at the hands of a sexual predator. What Sandusky did was awful. He used his stature as a football coach and friend to Paterno and the football program to his advantage.
The NCAA, or more appropriately Ray Emmert, felt the urge to act, despite the fact that it would appear these criminal acts lie outside its realm. Emmert bypassed the infractions committee and claimed that Penn State was running a program with a lack of integrity and ethics. Yeah, that seemed a bit ironic to me as well.
The infractions committee gave Emmert the thumbs up to hasten the process and sanction Penn State for its immoral and criminal acts and he didn’t disappoint. You’ve probably seen the results:
- Fined $60 million (to be spread over five years)
- Vacation of wins from 1998 to 2011
- Four year postseason ban
- Four year scholarship reduction
- Five year probation
I’m going to let the experts sort those out for you. Go to ESPN or CBSSports and just let the links fly.
What I want to talk about is the next part. Here’s a quote from Emmert at the press conference today:
“As the individuals charged with governing college sports, we have a responsibility to act. These events should serve as a call to every single school and athletics department to take an honest look at its campus environment and eradicate the ‘sports are king’ mindset that can so dramatically cloud the judgment of educators.”
This quote embodies what I hope to see as a new trend in college sports. “A call to every single school and athletics department.” There it is. Right there. This was as much a punishment for the disgusting practices of Penn State’s most powerful people as it is a warning to every school out there: “Get your shit together now.”
What’s amazing is the decree signed by both the NCAA and Penn State (which is essentially the equivalent to a lawsuit settlement). Usually the school who committed infractions and the NCAA “negotiate” on penalties. Not here. Penn State had no say in the punishments. They weren’t involved in any of the process. They were just told to sit in the corner while the adults figured out what to do with them.
Makes you wonder if they have more to hide and just want this whole thing to go away as fast as possible.
Penn State made it very clear that they regarded the reputation of Joe Paterno, Jerry Sandusky and the football program with much higher esteem than the lives of these young boys. They covered up one of the most heinous crimes one can commit because the football team and the wallet of the university was just too important. In my opinion, the way they acted is just as evil, if not far more so, as what Sandusky did. Sandusky is a sick man who needs help. These men are just greedy, disgusting people.
The fans were shocked to see this play out. We were appalled to see that kids would be treated this way. Honestly we’re just as foolish as Paterno and his friends. Major college sports is an industry full of greed, deception and lies. Penn State wasn’t doing anything different, they just got caught.
Hopefully we as the consumer show them that we will not purchase a product made in the sweatshops of universities nationwide. That our children are not pawns. That our morals are not for sale.
Emmert is giving the universities a warning that this sort of behavior will not be tolerated.
America needs to back him up.