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The NCAA Gets One Right – From the Bird’s Nest

Joe Robbins/Getty Images Sport

I’ve been as big a critic of the NCAA and the way they do business for many years.

Their arbitrary way of issuing punishment, some of it for the silliest of infractions, has been a head-scratcher.

But, on Monday, the NCAA showed they can get it right.

It is a very thin line that President Mark Emmert and the NCAA had to walk when it came to the Penn State case.  Penn State had to be punished, severely, for, let’s be frank here, aiding and abetting child rape.

But the punishment, though severe, had to be curtailed to Pennsylvania State University, rather than the central part of Pennsylvania, or even the entire Commonwealth itself.

And, by hammering the University, but not giving out the “death penalty,” the NCAA was able to accomplish that.

Originally, I was in favor of shutting down the program and even said so on my radio program before leaving for vacation last week.  But, in retrospect, what the NCAA did was much better than simply shutting down the program.

Taking a look at the sanctions, one by one:

The $60 Million Dollar Fine

My belief all along was that Penn State officials did what they did in order to protect the economy of Penn State.  This school takes in big bucks with its football program and some of that money helps fund other sports.  Had the brass stepped forward when they first discovered what Jerry Sandusky was later convicted of doing, their integrity and economy would have been compromised.  The fine hits them, hard, in the pocketbook.  They will be allowed to pay the fine over a five year period.  That’s still a million bucks a month for 60 months.  That’s a lot of money, even if you’re Penn State.  And, the money will be put to good use, to start programs that can prevent child sexual abuse and aid those victims of same.  Moreover, PSU cannot take any money away from other sports to help out with that million bucks a month situation.  In this particular case, Penn State’s economy is hurt, but the economy of the central part of the state and the Commonwealth itself stays, for the most part, intact.  That wouldn’t have happened with the disbanding of the program.

Reduction of initial scholarships by ten per year, and twenty per year total.

This is a huge blow to the program, make no mistake.  Penn State can now only sign fifteen players per year for the next four years while everyone else is signing 25.  And, more importantly,  PSU can only have 65 players on scholarship each year for the next four years.  Penn State has now become Nicholls State, numbers-wise.

A four-year postseason ban

No Big 10 championship game.  No bowls.  Try recruiting to that, especially in the first two years.  “Come to Penn State.  You’ll get a great education, but you can’t go to a bowl game.  The four years is especially chilling because it will kill Penn State’s recruiting classes in 2013 and 2014.

The Vacating of wins

Vacating wins, to the players and fans involved, is more of a window-dressing thing than anyone else.  I know about that.  UL was forced to vacate two championships in men’s basketball in 2004-05.  But I was there.  I know they won.  No, this punishment is about posterity.  And, it’s all about Joe Paterno.  The late head coach, who said he wished he did more, will posthumously pay for his own role in this terrible coverup.  The school loses 112 wins, 111 belonging to Paterno.  JoePa is no longer Division I’s winningest all time coach.  He’s not even second, or third or fourth.  While Paterno did great things as a coach and an educator, anything he did after the abuse started in 1998 is being expunged from his record, and rightfully so.  Frankly, I’m sorry he didn’t live long enough to see this day.  I’m not convinced he ever understood the magnitude of what he had done.

Current players and new recruits may leave without penalty.

I had to snicker somewhat when I’ve heard some national TV commentators talk about current players being punished for what happened at Penn State.  If you play, or are a new signee at Penn State, you can continue to play for Penn State.  You just can’t go to a bowl game.  I’m telling you, I know Jake Delhomme and Brandon Stokley.  Neither of them were traumatized by not being able to play in a bowl game.  Penn State players, if the choose not to play for a Nittany Lions team that can’t go to a bowl game, can still stay at the school and finish their education and still be on scholarship.  If those players do decide to transfer to a school where they can go to a bowl or play for a championship, don’t have to sit out a year.  Now, I don’t think a lot of PSU juniors and seniors will be transferring.  They put too much into that program to just walk away.  Some will head out.  Most will stay.  No, the exodus will be freshmen, redshirts and sophomores.  And, that’s why you won’t see Penn State’s won/loss record be affected right away.  But the bottom line is, the players aren’t being victimized at all.  So stop the bleeding heart garbage already.  Besides, you and I consistently pay a price for someones actions every time we go through security in an airport.  We’re surviving the inconvenience.

Forfeiture of bowl revenue

This is a sanction from the Big 10.  Penn State will not share in the Big 10 bowl revenue pile.  That’s roughly 13 million dollars over the four year period.  I personally would also have liked to see the Big 10 strip Penn State of their TV revenue as well.  I don’t think the league went as far as they could or should have.

Five years probation

This probably won’t mean much….unless the men’s tennis team screws up.  Under the terms of the probation, the athletic department at Penn State is subject to even more harsh penalties if ANY of their athletic programs were to run afoul of the NCAA.  That would put Penn State in a “repeat violators” category.  That wouldn’t be a good thing.

Penn State agrees not to appeal

Again, there are many screaming about due process.  That’s so incorrect on so many counts.  First, as President Emmert stated, the two investigations (The Freeh Report and the criminal investigation of Jerry Sandusky) were so thorough, the NCAA investigation would have been redundant.  Second, Penn State had already accepted the Freeh Report, essentially admitting culpability.  Spending a boatload of time and money to re-investigate someone who basically said they were guilty would be pretty silly, no?

So what’s the fallout of all this?

You might not see it this year, but Penn State football is about to enter into a long period of not winning a lot of football games.  It will begin with the new recruiting class and extend well after the four year bowl ban is finished.  The NCAA has effectively crippled the football program and, therefore to an extent, the economy of Penn State for what will probably be a decade or more.

The NCAA had sent, not only Penn State, but college athletics around the country a stern warning.

The “win, regardless of the cost” mentality that big colleges and universities have, can lead to very, very serious consequences.  We’ll find out in the future if schools get the hint, or if some have the attitude of “it can’t happen to us.”

That would be their mistake.  Ask the folks around not so Happy Valley.

No, the NCAA, for all their arrogance and all their faults, got this one right.

 


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