The Confidential has spent more than 24 hours digesting the NCAA sanctions imposed on Penn State by the NCAA yesterday. As part of that digestion, the Confidential engaged in debate with neutral observers and Penn State fans alike regarding the sanctions. While the Confidential still approves the NCAA penalties and believes them just–there are a few aspects where the NCAA seems to have erred.
As a preliminary matter, as it relates to the NCAA imposing ANY sanctions, the Confidential remains steadfast in its opinion that the NCAA was free to sanction Penn State for the sheer embarrassment alone. What happened at Penn State hurt the image of college football. We applaud when the NBA suspends Ron Artest for jumping into the stands; we should similarly applaud when the NCAA seeks to protect its image against this embarrassment. After all, it was the adults at Penn State–the leaders, in fact–that committed the errors. It is a bit troubling that a school can be punished for the prior sins of a young man (see USC & Reggie Bush), but there is no such sympathy for Penn State here. Guys in suits made big mistakes. Punishment was appropriate… sorry.
As for the punishments themselves, here is a copy of the summary of the penalties:
- $60,000,000 fine, with the funds used to support an endowment for child abuse victims. 1 year’s gross revenue of the football program.
- Bowl ban for 4 years
- 10 less scholarships per year for four years. Maximum of 65 scholarship players on team for four years, beginning in 2014-2015.
- Current players may transfer
- Vacated all wins from 1998 to 2011.
- Athletic department–5 years probation, with an athletic integrity monitor.
There is no real quarrel with the fine, the bowl ban, the loss of scholarships and the probation. While the fine is heavy, it is only one year of gross revenue. And spread out over five years, the cost is not that damaging–perhaps 1/2 of the TV revenue Penn State derives. The bowl bans, loss of scholarships, and the probation are hefty, but not unprecedented in form.
The issue with these punishments relate to the transfer of players and the vacating of wins. The Confidential agrees that players should be allowed to transfer. It is certainly not THEIR fault that this punishment was handed down. HOWEVER, the NCAA is going way too far with respect to the rules governing this transfer process. Specifically, the NCAA is allowing schools to contact Penn State players. While the schools must inform Penn State of the contact, this remains an absurd policy. If players want to leave, so be it. They can contact the schools. There is no need to allow open-recruitment of Penn State players. That just adds insult to injury.
Even worse, the NCAA will apparently allow punished programs like USC and Ohio State to add Penn State players:
And finally, a school already facing scholarship limits because of NCAA infractions, such as Ohio State or USC, may add a Penn State player as long as it doesn’t exceed the limits specified in its infractions ruling. So USC can add Penn State running back Silas Redd as long as it doesn’t exceed its NCAA-mandated scholarship limit of 75.
What? The NCAA is punishing Ohio State and USC. There is simply NO logical explanation for allowing these programs to even consider adding former Penn State players. The whole purpose of punishing those programs was to impose a penalty on them for prior violations. Those penalties have not ended yet. They should be prohibited from sharing in the feast on the Penn State players. This is simple common sense and fairness.
Finally, the Confidential opposes the vacating of wins from 1998 to 2011. Of course, vacating wins is a stupid and pointless penalty anyway. If a school cheats, then perhaps they should forfeit the game–with the losing team becoming the winner and vice-versa. But vacating the wins is a useless gesture. Whether it is applied to Joe Paterno, Bobby Bowden, or anyone else, it is simply a fiction.
Here, it is obvious that the cover-up of Sandusky’s deeds staved off a public relations disaster that arguably would have damaged the football program. But those kids still went on the field and won (or lost) the games that they played. The kids played within the rules and did not cheat. The games were legitimate and should not be removed from the record simply because of the misdeeds of the administration unrelated to the games themselves. Even the coaches/opponents must agree that vacating wins is pointless. In the context of Joe Paterno, vacating the wins seems like a twisting of the knife in Penn State. Perhaps the NCAA could have vacated the wins from 2001–the year that Penn State should have done more. Had Penn State endured the negative public relations that year, the season might have been disappointing. In striking 1998 to 2011, the NCAA simply went too far.
What do you think? Did the NCAA get it all right? All wrong? Partially right? Feel free to share your opinion!