If you thought it couldn’t get any worse for Penn State University and their football program, you were wrong.
Just a day after the Joe Paterno statue was removed from the Penn State football stadium, the NCAA on Monday morning announced the details of the sanctions which they will impose on the athletic program as a result of the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal.
And the sanctions are unprecedented:
- A four-year bowl ban
- Reduction of 10 initial scholarships and 20 total scholarships each year for four years
- $60 million fine
- All wins vacated from 1998-2011
- All current PSU players can transfer immediately if they wish
In short, the Penn State football program is now completely in shambles. It would be hard for any program to recover from these sanctions. We can easily assume that the hollowed and traditioned program that is Penn State football is no more.
The big question here, nevertheless, is whether these penalties are fair given their severity. And my response is absolutely. Penn State deserves to be reprimanded as harshly as possible for their inability to hire a professional coaching staff or to maintain professional discipline throughout their athletic organization.
Did they deserve the NCAA's "death penalty" — a complete disembowelment of the football program? In my view, this current set of sanctions is just as bad. And just as warranted.
What happened at Penn State was disgusting. From a sports standpoint, away from the legal ramifications of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, leadership from the top down failed to act in an appropriate manner.
And, with regards to legacy, Joe Paterno — until now the winningest coach in division I college football — completely deserves to lose his title as the winningest FBS coach to Bobby Bowden of Florida State University.
Penn State football might as well be no more. The program has literally been nuked off of the face of the college football map.
Of course there are losers ... collateral damage ... in these sanctions. It is hard not to feel bad for the current players and for Bill O’Brien, the current head coach, who must suffer as a result of the actions of their predecessors. O'Brien, who expressed his full commitment shortly after the sanctions were given, would have to pay a huge buyout payment if he were to leave the school now; his bonuses are also all dependent on the performance of the team this year.
Was this the right move by the NCAA? Yes.
Still, there is no repayment that Penn State or the NCAA can make to the families of the Sandusky victims. All conversations on this topic should always keep them in mind.