The culture (or cult?) of college sports pushed head coach Joe "Joe Pa" Paterno and his assisting staff to turn a deaf ear to a number of allegations, now substantiated, that assistant head coach Jerry Sandusky was molesting young boys on and near the Penn State campus.
When the revelation of these horrific crimes came to light, "Joe Pa" was
summarily fired and the University leadership received a heavy rebuke, a massive fine, and a comprehensive repudiation of every which the Penn State Nittany Lions took in from 1998 to the Present.
That punishment went way too far. As often happens when leadership fails to lead and the supervisors want to show "good faith", the consequences exceed the proper scope of the crime, and more people, often innocent and ignorant, end up getting hurt. Cancelling every Penn State victory over the past fourteen years will not restore or remit the pain and suffering inflicted on those young
victims, but that punishment ends up doing greater harm to those who had nothing to do wit the molestations in the first place.
I commend Governor Tom Corbett for stepping up and taking on the NCAA for their over-punishment of Penn State.
Joe Paterno knew too much and did not do enough. The Penn State community knew too little, and so Sandusky did way too much. The students who study and learn and play football, along with the entire campus, should notbeen so punished for the wrongs of the few coaches who saw what they saw, yet said nothing. Beyond that, the state of Pennsylvania and the taxpayers of the Keystone State should not be punished because of the venality or cowardice of a few Penn State personnel who did nothing.
Instead of repudiating a decade of wins, A "death penalty" for one year would have been appropriate. This forced Sabbath would have allowed the school community-- students , the staff, and the sports program -- to sort things out, figure out the school's values, and discern why there were so many lapses in leadership and moral probity. Should a university be so intensely defined by the billion-dollar football industry. Was the University wise in erecting a commemorative statue of "JoePa" long before he had retired? That monument forced on Paterno and the school a legacy which they have to live up to, a standard which leads many to compromise their character for the sake of fame.
Governor Corbett should also investigate leasing out Penn State into a public-private partnership. With private leadership in place, the profit motive would engage protection for all students along with accountability for professors, coaches, and administrators. All too often, public institutions sweep allegations of molestation under the rug, while private firms, fearing the loss of money as well as men, will root out perversion more intently. The Boy Scouts did a more thorough job, although not enough, in protecting children from perverts than
state institutions like public schools.
In the wake of the Penn State-Jerry Sandusky scandal, let us hope that the real
perpetrators get punished and the students, staff, and football players who were doing what they do best -- learn and play -- do not get roped up in the consequences.