The penalties announced by the NCAA and Big Ten this morning produced a steady stream of very diverse, very angry tweets and posts. Some people think the NCAA was too harsh, or that it shouldn’t have sanctioned Penn State at all; others think the punishment is much too lax.
$60 million in fines, to go to an endowment to help victims of child abuse. Four-year postseason ban, and loss of scholarships for four years. Five years probation. Vacated wins from 1998-2011.
It’s a difficult situation, and I’m glad I didn’t have to make any decisions about it, but now that Mark Emmert has, here’s what I think:
- No penalties can ever adequately make up for the abuse those children suffered. The NCAA can erase as many wins as it wants, but no one can erase what happened to those kids. That’s a tragedy that sanctions can’t do a damn thing to fix.
- Those who say these penalties don’t benefit the victims or punish the perpetrators are correct. But I disagree that that means the NCAA shouldn’t have acted. Sandusky’s going to jail for life and the administrators who harbored a child molester for years are gone, but the culture around the program that allowed this to happen still exists. The sanctions punish a program that put football above the welfare of innocent children. I’m on board with that.
- The $60 million to help child abuse victims is the most important piece of this ruling in my mind. It might be the only positive thing to come from this situation. $60 million is, give or take, about what the football program would generate in a year (I’ve seen a few different numbers reported). And it, plus an additional $13 million in fines from the conference over four years, is going to an excellent cause.
- Penn State’s current players and commits are free to transfer to any school, with no penalty or loss of eligibility, at any point from now until the beginning of the 2013 season. Arguments that they’re being unfairly punished are invalid. First, it’s not news that sanctions like this for lack of institutional control often fall on players who aren’t involved. It might not be fair but it’s a side effect of program-wide penalties and no one should be shocked by it at this point. Second, these players will be fine. If they’re on scholarship at Penn State, they’ll have no problem finding a new home and plenty of other schools, including those who recruited them hard at one time will be thrilled to have them.
- I’m not incredibly concerned with the effect on Penn State players. I’m sorry they have to go through this, but they’re elite Division I athletes who are going to get a free ride to a good school. They weren’t, as far as I know, victims of sexual abuse as children. Their lives could be a hell of a lot worse.
- The loss of scholarships didn’t initially sound so severe to me, but the losses over four years will add up, and coupled with the four-year postseason ban, it’ll be really tough for PSU to bring in any top prospects for awhile. Many people have compared it to USC’s reduction in scholarships - a loss of 10 a year over three years. USC only had a two-year postseason ban; there was incentive there for the talented freshman and sophomore classes (think Matt Barkley, Matt Kalil, T.J. McDonald, Nick Perry, Robert Woods) to stick around. With even fewer scholarships to offer and the light at the end of the tunnel even further away, Bill O’Brien and staff will have a much tougher sell.
- I’ve thought about it a lot and I’m okay with the NCAA not issuing the death penalty here. The punishments they did give out are going to have nearly the same effect, without unnecessarily penalizing the other teams that would lose out if PSU didn’t play for a season or more. They punish Penn State but not any other schools (nor the current players, unless those players choose not to transfer).
- Finally, I’m tired of hearing that the NCAA had no business doling out punishments because this “isn’t a football issue.” Is it not a football issue because it didn’t involved football players? Or because it didn’t give the football team or individual players any competitive advantage? Or just because Joe Paterno said it wasn’t? It’s not the first time a university has been punished for infractions that didn’t provide a competitive advantage, but that’s not the point. It’s a football issue because the culture of the football program, and those in charge of the football program, allowed children to be raped, on campus, in the football building. That’s the culture that’s being punished by the NCAA and the Big Ten, as it should be. I don’t think it’s going significantly change the culture of the most successful money-making athletic institutions, but if it makes programs think twice before covering up felony child abuse, then I’d consider the sanctions worthwhile.
Thank you for handing down penalties that only adversely affect the players who did things the right way. This reeks of an organization desperate to prove that it has some sort of control over its member institutions despite lacking the ability and firepower to police the serious offenders and protect the student-athletes whose interests you purport to have at heart.
While I realize that all violations merit some kind of punishment, I have a hard time grasping the notion that one of the proudest moments in my life (and the lives of every other individual that was a part of the team and program in 2009) is apparently worth $312 in your eyes. If that truly is the case, I’d be happy to provide you with that same amount of money (cash or check, your choice) in exchange for the reinstatement of the title my teammates and I earned through our blood, sweat and tears.
It took months of hard work, dedication and personal sacrifice by a team of over 100 players, 10 coaches and countless staff members to achieve that championship, but, evidently, it only takes the handful of pencil pushers, lawyers and professors on your infractions committee to strip us of it.
I was a part of the 2009 ACC Championship team and, while you can pretend retroactively that it didn’t happen, I have vivid memories of an incredible season that was, and continues to be, one of the most fun, meaningful, important, and very real times in my 23 years on this planet. I’ll be wearing my championship ring with pride and if you want that too, you’ll have to pry it from my cold, dead finger.
Former Georgia Tech center Sean Bedford on the Yellow Jackets’ recently vacated 2009 ACC title (from Ex-Jacket Lashes Out at NCAA: “Pry It from my Cold, Dead Finger” - CollegeFootballTalk - NBCSports.com)
I really appreciate the university and the NCAA keeping this case so hush-hush. I’m 1000% over NCAA allegations and sanctions and other unsavory business at this point, so as someone pointed out over the weekend, good for them for keeping it quiet and under control until the investigations and rulings were complete.
I also love everything Bedford said here; violations or not, he’s right on when he says that everything that season meant to the team, and everything they accomplished, can’t ever really be taken away.
Great column from Gene Wojciechowski on the state of college football and the cost of success.
If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, or even if you haven’t, you’ll notice that it’s my policy to keep it clean, and free of profanity and anything inappropriate (shirtless guys are totally appropriate).
As a result, I’m being very careful to keep everything that immediately came to mind when I got the above news inside (and lemme tell ya, it ain’t easy), but I will say that this ruling is BS.
Just how much of sham/scam the NCAA really is these days is still up in the air, pending its rulings on Ohio State, UNC, Auburn, etc.
But I’m pretty sure I’m still going to think it’s BS. Bold, in all caps, fully spelled out.
If you’re a USC fan and you need to take the edge off between now and whenever these stupid sanctions are lifted, go join Arrogant Nation over at Lost Angeles Blog this season. Our fearless bear-hunting leader is always clutch in providing a little perspective and a shot in the arm of arrogance.
As for me, I’ll be steering as clear as I can of any and all details and updates about the NCAA and their most recent arbitrary ruling. It’s bad for my blood pressure.
It is 1:45 a.m.
A bracket is finally completed.
I’m not super happy with it.
And after 2.5 nights working with multiple bracket forms (because I like to write in pen), I have pretty much zero idea what I actually ended up with.
Several members of USC’s athletic department are in Indianapolis this weekend, preparing to make their case for reduced sanctions before the NCAA’s Infractions Appeals Committee.
In June, the NCAA hit the Southern Cal football program with heavy sanctions for a “lack of institutional control,” mainly stemming from former Trojan Reggie Bush’s improper dealings with an agent, considered a major infraction. The penalties included 14 vacated wins, a two-year ban on postseason bowls, four years of probation, and a reduction of 30 scholarships over three years.
USC will seek to have the postseason ban reduced by one year, with a loss of only 15 scholarships over three years….[Keep reading for more about USC’s appeal and what it means at isportsweb.com]