NCAA punishes Penn State for Sandusky scandal
Penn State gets hit with a $60 million fine and other sanctions for the Sandusky scandal, punishments that will cripple the school's famed football program for years and weaken its brand as a powerhouse collegiate sports brand. But was the NCAA too lenient?
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“We must create a culture in which people are not afraid to speak up, management is not compartmentalized, all are expected to demonstrate the highest ethical standards, and the operating philosophy is open, collegial, and collaborative,” he said.Skip to next paragraph
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According to the US Department of Education, Penn State’s football program generates more than $50 million annually and subsidizes dozens of other sports programs. Mark Conrad, who teaches sports law at Fordham University in New York City, says the sanctions were ultimately “more severe” than the death penalty because they were more comprehensive.
“If they had just issued the death penalty, you can start from scratch but you haven’t been hit in the pocketbook severely. [Under the sanctions announced Monday], you’re hit in the pocketbook more severely, you lose a lot of wins, and you lose a lot of scholarships,” Mr. Conrad says. “When you throw all that in, you clearly are seeing a program that has to transition down to a different level.”
The death penalty was used five times in the past, primarily for recruiting violations, which pale in comparison with the crimes involved in the Sandusky case. Frank Shorr, director of the Boston University Sports Institute, says the NCAA didn’t go far enough in its sanctions. He believes the early outrage expressed in the rioting at Penn State following Sandusky’s arrest and Paterno’s early retirement suggest the organization needed to trigger the death penalty to ensure the hysteric sports culture at the university is squelched.
“They should have ceased playing football there for a while,” Mr. Shorr says. “What the NCAA has said is ‘write a check and all is done’. That’s totally meaningless. That has no effect on the people who are sitting in the stands this fall where it’ll be business as usual.”
The sanctions are notable because of their speed, arriving the same month as a devastating report by former FBI Director Louis Freeh. Penn State’s Board of Trustees hired Mr. Freeh to investigate the university’s handing of the Sandusky accusations. His report, based on 450 interviews and about 3 million e-mails, concluded that Paterno and top officials willfully concealed reports of the Sandusky abuse as well as breakdowns in the “university’s culture, governance, administration, compliance policies and procedures for protecting children.”
The NCAA took the unusual step in bypassing its usual policy for investigating possible violations, which can take years. Instead, Emmert said the Freeh report was “vastly more involved and thorough than any investigation” the organization has ever done.
He declined to criticize Paterno directly, saying he wanted to avoid any current criminal investigations and suggested further NCAA penalties against individuals are yet to be determined once those matters are settled.
Penn State athletic director Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, a former vice president in charge of the campus police, both face charges of perjury and failure to report child abuse. Their trial is expected next year. Both men say they are innocent.