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On Bryce’s Mind

By Staff | Jul 31, 2012

Last week the National Collegiate Athletic Association sanctioned Penn State in the wake of assistant coach Jerry Sandusky’s child abuse charges, and the actions undertaken by the late head coach, Joe Paterno.

Because of the sanctions, Penn State has to pay a $60 million fine against them (which will go toward programs for child abuse prevention), they’re banned from bowl games for four years, and they’re going to lose at least 20 football scholarships. But football players from Penn State are allowed to transfer to other schools and automatically be eligible to play.

One of the most divisive things happened when 14 winning seasons led by Coach Paterno from 1998 to 2011 had been stripped away and negated, doing away with Paterno’s record as the winningest coach in NCAA Division I history. Paterno’s 900-pound statue also came down over the weekend.

These actions came months after November 2011, when NCAA president Mark Emmert sent a letter to Penn State demanding, to quote an article from Sporting News, answers to “questions involving ethics, compliance and institutional control.” Former FBI director Louis Freeh conducted an eight month investigation whose conclusions (in a 267 page document) prompted the NCAA to act.

It had been found that Paterno cared more about Penn State football’s image rather than lives of 45 children Sandusky scarred. In 2001, a former assistant coach by the name of Mike McQueary told Paterno that Sandusky raped a child in the Lasch Building showers, and Paterno basically swept it under the rug.

Critics of the actions have said that the NCAA sanctions punish current and future students and athletes more than it does those responsible. But some supporters have said that the NCAA hasn’t gone far enough, and that Penn State deserves punishment.

The NCAA sanctions may seem excessive, or even overly punitive, but it sets a precedent. It sends a message to institutions of higher learning, and their athletic divisions, that a staff member CANNOT do any illegal thing he or she wants to and have administrators and other staff enable him or her to save face. But don’t punish the students. Punish those still alive who played a part in it.

Even still, nothing the NCAA will do against Penn State or other schools’ officials who attempt similar crimes in the future can erase the memories of what happened to those 45 youths. For as long as they live, they will be scarred for life by Sandusky’s heinous, monstrous actions.

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