I think the NCAA got their punishment of Penn State almost perfectly right. They didn't destroy the program, they crippled it and forced it to rebuild itself.
The punishment included a $60 million fine, a 4 year post-season ban, and a reduction of football scholarships. The result of these measures will be the subjugation of the Nittany Lions to a second-tier team. The NCAA will also erase all of Penn State's wins from 1998 onward.
The fine confused me at first. How can you put a price-tag on rape? Then I learned that the $60 million will be going to an endowment for sexual abuse charities. And suddenly it seems like an appropriate amount. It's large, but the University will survive paying it. The NCAA says the amount is equivalent to a year's revenue for the football team.
The post-season ban is very significant. And the Big Ten declared that Penn State won't be eligible for the Big Ten Championship game either. Bowl games are showcases for football programs. And they're cash cows for the conferences. The Big Ten has announced that it will not share its bowl revenues with Penn State, and will instead give that money to charities. That was a very wise decision by the Big Ten.
For 4 years, Penn State will have no hope of a national title, a conference title, or even a bowl game title. That will hurt their wallets and also their recruiting.
The scholarship reduction is the most damaging punishment. Penn State will be allowed 65 full football scholarships, instead of the normal 85. And they will only be allowed to issue 15 new football scholarships per season, instead of 25.
That's a significant blow to recruiting. It means that Penn State will have 20 fewer scholarship athletes than its opponents. And that its recruiting classes will be 40% smaller than their competitors'.
Then there's the indirect punishment of players leaving the team, hoping to play for a program that can make a bowl game, and has more scholarship players and therefore a better chance of winning. Two recruits have already de-committed after these punishments were handed down.
In its punishment, the NCAA allows any football player to transfer without having to sit out a season.
The scholarship reductions will last 4 years.
The length of the punishments ensures that Penn State will struggle for a considerable amount of time. Any freshman player today will know that they'll spend their entire college career on an inferior team that has no hope of post-season play.
These penalties cripple the program and force it to limp along for 4 years, then possibly be rebuilt.
And that's exactly what this football program deserves to do. It deserves to struggle. If new people can rebuild it after struggling, then so be it. To me, Joe Paterno and all the other PSU scumbags who let Sandusky prey on innocent flesh are responsible for crippling the program they held so high. That's justice. They did what they did for the sake of the program. And now their actions and inactions have seriously damaged that beloved program.
I don't agree with the wins being vacated. The NCAA wiped out all Penn State victories from 1998 onward, when the cover-up began. Would they have erased the wins if Paterno didn't have the record for victories?
To me, Paterno's legacy is already a tarnished and tattered ruin. Even if he still had the record for wins, he wouldn't be remembered for that.
And you can't change the past. Penn State won those games and everyone still knows it. Even though Pete Rose can't be inducted into the Hall of Fame, he still has the record for hits.
The NCAA doesn't want Paterno to have the wins record, but he does. If you erase that from the record books, then the record books don't hold the actual records anymore, do they?
Some have argued that the NCAA shouldn't punish Penn State for their off-field sins. I disagree. The program and the school allowed this all to happen. The cover-up was part of the Penn State football program. So therefore the program is eligible to be punished for the cover-up.
The program became more powerful than the school. And as an institution, the program was corrupt. The program should be held accountable for its corruption.
Some have argued that the punishments don't go far enough. Unfortunately, there is no punishment, no matter how severe, that will unrape young boys. And I think that the Penn State football program, under new leadership and administration of course, has the right to rebuild itself and to be something different.
Would eliminating the program entirely accomplish anything positive?
The people who want to eliminate football at Penn State are seeking quick and decisive vengeance. And that's not what punishments are for.
The program has the right to rebuild itself as a clean, less corrupt, less powerful institution. The South had the right to rebuild after the Civil War. Germany had the right to rebuild after World War II. Similarly, PSU has the right to rebuild its football program, but it must keep that program under control.
It was the schools' lack of control that allowed Joe Paterno to become a campus dictator.