NCAA Sanctions For Penn State: You’re Doing It Wrong

Rest assured, 11W hates child rape:

Tressel deliberately failed to report players selling their own belongings for cash. It was a far cry from the rampant academic fraud at North Carolina, the systemic LOIC at Boise State across multiple sports, the openly permissible attitude at the University of Miami toward having Nevin Shapiro as the athletic department's Caligula for several years and the wholesale administrative coverup of Sandusky's serial child rape at Penn State.

We're entering a new chapter in Everyone Is Doing It justification in college sports, where we're no longer benchmarking against (and making ourselves feel better because of) Pony Excess, but rather Jerry Sandusky. Getting free cash and cars during your tenure? "It's not child rape" is, as in the above example, everyone's new Deal With It gif.

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Which brings us to the significant problem of how to punish Penn State. The problem is the NCAA punishes people backwards, and in the Sandusky Affair things have already ended with the allegedly guilty and negligent suffering irreparable harm.

In other football-related scandals, the NCAA has been able to operate in their own framework, at the very least sticking to some kind of program. Ohio State landed the #1 ranked player in the country, in no small part, it seems, because a mentor in his hometown had access to both cars and the OSU athletic department. The school then proceeded to let him and other high-performing players trade goods given by the football program for cash and cash equivalents. The football program experienced a direct on-field advantage by allowing this to both happen and go unpunished, even temporarily after the story broke.

And who suffers? Not Pryor, who was inexplicably given supplemental draft access, then a $586K signing bonus as part of a four year, $2.7MM deal. Tressel only by degree, who will now shift to working his way through the ranks of the NFL. The current players and coach for certain, who had little to nothing to do with this.

Penn State already "self-imposed" the opposite of this, and swiftly. Put aside the merit of acting without all the information for a second and agree with this: the accused have been punished and will be dealing with those consequences for the rest of their lives. There is no replay review position in Pittsburgh for Paterno. There is no $2.7 million dollar job on the temperate west coast for McQuary. Graham Spanier does not simply sit out a semester and get back to work.

The school, largely "innocent" in its current form, is suffering a kind of long-term punishment that makes the scholarship reductions at USC and OSU or the regime change volunteered at UNC laughable. The football players, as innocent as you or I in this, were handed a totally offensive bowl bid considering their record. The future regime will inherit a rapidly defecting recruiting class, that for good measure is largely committing to rivals. The school and athletic department will never be able to one-up the stigma with another "Champs Day," and now inherent the financial repercussions.

There's a bigger problem: how many scholarships is child rape worth? How many Capital One bowls? How can the NCAA possibly quantify the crime and come out looking like they hate child rape? The answer is that they can't. They can't possibly quantify something that has been the biggest sports story of the entire year, which earns that rank precisely because it is so unfathomable. And so they either won't or will destroy themselves trying to both scorecard this one, and then take on every unethical, non-sports related activity in college sports.

And then there's the Big Ten, who will not be one-upped in the moral game by the NCAA. They're in an incredibly powerful position to do any of the following (as mentioned on this week's sad-cast), all of which they did not:

  • Realized child abuse is a societal problem, not just a central Pennsylvania one, and that Penn State's bowl money isn't any dirtier than anyone else's in the Big Ten. Instead of watching Penn State donate money, Delany could have organized a conference-wide cash effort instead of his empty televised comment about protecting our children.
  • Run child abuse awareness PSAs instead of conference shill pieces during the Big Ten Championship game.
  • Commit to jersey ribbons or stripes - similar to what the NFL committed to for breast cancer recently - to promote child abuse awareness and plug a hotline.

Instead? This:

[The Big Ten] will reserve the right to impose sanctions, corrective or other disciplinary measures in the event that adverse findings are made in the areas of institutional control, ethical conduct and/or other Conference related matters.

They drone on about "earning and deserving this trust" as the engine that is driving the regions brain trust and, in many ways, leading its culture, to which I'll defer to a German organist: "Example is not the main thing in influencing others, it is the only thing."

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