Are NCAA Sanctions Self-Serving?
At 9 am, the NCAA will drop major sanctions on Penn State's football program. In light of what's occurred, it's not surprising. But does that make it necessary or right?
Let's review. Horrible things happened at Penn State facilities involving children. The "leadership" of the school and the football program became aware of this, yet did nothing to protect the victims or prevent it from happening again. None of the parties responsible for allowing child abuse to continue remain at Penn State. One is dead, the others are likely headed to prison. Yet now, the university and the students will be made to pay the price. Presumably, this is to prevent this from happening again. But do we really believe that other chancellors, athletic directors, or coaches would repeat this mistake even without NCAA sanctions?
Think of the mental math that would have to take place, "I may go to prison, but at least the athletic department won't be sanctioned". I don't think that's the internal dialogue that Joe Paterno, Tim Curley, Graham Spanier, or anyone else was having or would have in the future.
Of course, there's always the chance that some of these officials avoid prison. In that case, they are only unemployable pariahs. That's probably getting off easy versus what would be just. Still, it can't sound that appealing to other coaches or other Athletic Directors. Who in their right minds would ever consider repeating this mistake?
But what if the NCAA did nothing, saying just that this is a criminal matter best addressed by the courts? They would be accused of taking the matter too lightly. Almost as if they approved of what took place. You can understand why dropping a bomb on Penn State seems better than taking no action. But denying high school students the opportunity to receive athletic scholarships to attend college doesn't seem like a punishment that fits the crime.
If as has been reported, the NCAA will levy substantial fines on PSU to be redirected toward child abuse, then at least they've succeeded in doing something to help victims. But why not just leave it there. Let the student-athetes (who by all accounts were not even indirectly responsible for the child abuse) continue to get opportunities at the school. That seems the fairest approach for all involved. The rest, seems a bit like PR and grandstanding.