Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Should the NCAA be put in charge of the Catholic Church?

The NCAA board has, as most probably know, handed down its list of sanctions against Penn State University for the Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. The sanctions include a fine of $60 million, the loss of scholarships, bowl ineligibility, and the vacating of some fourteen years worth of wins. The immediate consequences? Joe Paterno's legacy is essentially dirt. He's gone from being the all-time winningest coach in NCAA Division 1-A (FBS) football and a paragon of virtue to the number eight spot in wins and more or less a pariah, outside of Happy Valley. Of course, he died in January of this year, so the humiliation is being suffered by his family and his many supporters from Penn State.

Sandusky has been convicted of various crimes, ranging from indecent assault to endangering the welfare of a minor. He has not yet been sentenced, but faces a maximum of 442 years in prison. Civil lawsuits are pending, against Sandusky, Paterno's estate, Spanier (former university president) and others, along with Penn State as a whole.

But the NCAA sanctions--whether or not one views them as appropriate or sufficient--are being imposed against the institution of Penn State in general and against its current and future football program in particular. Make no mistake, students and PSU employees who had nothing to do with the scandal, who may not have even been at the school during the time period in question, are being punished, as are alunmi and others who enjoyed PSU football or even built their livelihoods around it.

Thus the critical question: is this fair?

The NCAA certainly thinks it is, noting that part of the problem was the covering up and enabling of Sandusky's crimes by people more concerned with winning football games and protecting "heroes" than with doing what is right, than with being responsible citizens and leaders. Thus, it is the Penn State football culture being punished by the NCAA, more than anything else.

Of course, such culture is hardly endemic to Penn State, alone. It is common at Universities around the country with big-time sports programs. But the difference is, this culture led to tragically bad--if not downright evil--things at PSU. Children were violated. They suffered at the hands of someone with authority, someone all were told to respect, because of his devotion to the program. And the powers-that-be didn't want to know about it; they assumed devotion trumped rumors, end of story.

Sound familiar?

Cheers, all.

1 comment:

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