Disclaimer: In my long history of blogging, two weeks, I have stuck with talking about the Orioles, who are in the midst of a five-game winning streak.
However, watching the circus known as the NCAA dealing with the tragedy at Penn State leads me to change course this week. The following paragraphs are not a commentary about the horrific and inexcusable actions of Jerry Sandusky or anyone that enabled them to take place by either covering up or turning a blind eye to them. This is purely about the hypocritical governing body known as the NCAA.
Editor's note: The morning after this blog post was written, the NCAA hit Penn State's football program with $60 million in fines, five years of probation, a four year postseason ban and reduced scholarships. Additionally, coach Joe Paterno's wins from 1998 to 2011 have been vacated.
There are a number of governing bodies within the United States that miss the target when it comes to honesty, integrity and overall moral fiber. One of, if not the greatest of these is the NCAA.
In the current situation at Penn State University, the NCAA is once again missing the mark when it comes to how it should govern its member institutions and the role that it should play. I believe that there are very few who do not know about the heinous acts that were committed by a former coach of Penn State over the years as well as the cover-up and ignorance that surrounded it.
However, I firmly believe that this is not a place where the NCAA should be involved. The offenses, regardless of how egregious, are not related to the NCAA but rather are related to an individual that happened to be a part of the football program.
Threatening to give the “death penalty” to the football program is the NCAA trying to make a public image appeal that they are going to take action against this horrible situation. The fact of the matter is that the NCAA is not acting to protect the innocent; it is instead looking to gain a public relations checkmark.
This is most evident in that it is leaving the open the possibility that they will give the “death penalty” to the football program. Let’s lay out a scenario where a university has a Nobel Prize-winning scientist who heads up the physics department at the university.
If this scientist had done the same thing that Jerry Sandusky has done, would there be a call to shut down the physics department? The answer is absolutely not, but since this is just a football program, they have to be taken to task! What should happen is that the person and those responsible for the department should be fired and face the consequences for their actions within the jurisprudence system.
In the case of the Penn State football program, all those who were involved have either been fired or are dead. Those who are fired now must face the legal consequences for what they did along with having this on their consciences, assuming they have any, for the rest of their lives.
The next question is what the purpose behind the NCAA punishment is. It seems that the NCAA is looking to punish the current innocent people, rather than the offenders. At the same time, they looking to punish the school, the football program or all the other athletic programs as well.
If the NCAA punishes the football program, this will have a ripple effect on all the other programs at Penn State. Where will the money come from to fund the men’s gymnastics team, which just five years ago won its 12th national championship and the women’s volleyball program which just two years ago won its fifth national championship and third consecutive at that time?
The reality is that the men and women that participate in these programs had nothing to do with any of this, but when you take away the football revenue, they will be the ones directly impacted with the loss of revenue that the football program generates.
The current football players will find scholarships at other schools and the current coaches will find jobs at other places because they did nothing wrong. What happens to Ingvar Jochumsson, the sophomore gymnast from Iceland? Is he going to land at some other powerhouse gymnastic program or is he headed back home to his bankrupt homeland? I guess this does not really matter to the NCAA as long as it looks good for taking action on something that it should not have any control over.
The final point is, where else in society do we see a governing body taking control over something that is not a direct relation to its responsibility? If a managing director at Goldman Sachs kills someone, we do not see the SEC come in to shut down Goldman Sachs because of the action of someone outside of the per view of its responsibility. When Catholic priests are caught molesting altar boys, is there a call to shut down the church?
In the same way simply because this horrific deed was done by someone within the Penn State football program, that does not give the NCAA the license to take action. The closest we can come to seeing a governing body taking action on something that is outside it’s purview is when Congress held hearings for steroids in baseball.
At a time of a crashing economy, our lawmakers decide they should try to figure out why people in baseball want to get bigger and stronger so they can hit more home runs. Those hearings were a waste of time and taxpayers money.
Much in the same way, the NCAA disciplining Penn State is a waste of its time and money because it simply should not be involved as it cannot do anything to make the situation any better.
The reality here is that this is a situation that is indescribable in words and no one has the right solution(s). Some people say that the football program should have to give part of the proceeds of its season to make these problems more open so that they can be addressed before other children end up in the same situation.
Others say the school should shut down the football program. I certainly cannot say what is the correct answer, but what I do know is that from watching what the NCAA has done in the past it is certainly not the organization to be making the decision.