Report: NCAA Sanctions Against Penn State To Be “Unprecedented”

The same day that Joe Paterno’s statue comes down, reports are indicating that the NCAA has reached a decision on the sanctions to be imposed on Penn State for the cover-up of child abuse by members of its football program, and it sounds like its going to be something big:

(CBS News) CBS News has learned that the NCAA will announce what a high-ranking association source called “unprecedented” penalties against both the Penn State University football team and the school.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” the source told correspondent Armen Keteyian.

NCAA President Mark Emmert will make the announcement Monday morning at 9 a.m. at the organization’s headquarters in Indianapolis.

The penalties come in the wake of the independent report by former FBI Director Louis Freeh that chronicled repeated efforts by four top Penn State officials, including former football Joe Paterno, to conceal allegations of serial child sex abuse Jerry Sandusky over a 14-year period.

For reference, when the NCAA penalized Southern Methodist University, they meted out the following penalties:

  • The 1987 season was canceled; only conditioning drills were permitted during the 1987 calendar year.
  • All home games in 1988 were canceled. SMU was allowed to play their seven regularly scheduled away games so that other institutions would not be financially affected.
  • The team’s existing probation was extended until 1990. Its existing ban from bowl games and live television was extended to 1989.
  • SMU lost 55 new scholarship positions over 4 years.
  • SMU was required to ensure that Owen and eight other boosters previously banned from contact with the program were in fact banned, or else face further punishment.
  • The team was allowed to hire only five full-time assistant coaches, instead of the typical nine.
  • No off-campus recruiting was permitted until August 1988, and no paid visits could be made to campus by potential recruits until the start of the 1988-89 school year.

Use of the word “unprecedented” suggests pretty strongly that Penn State will get something more severe. The most obvious possibilities would include a suspension from football that lasts longer than a year, a long period of probation, long-term banning from bowl games, and loss of a large number of scholarships.

The Patriot-News, the largest newspaper in Central Pennsylvania, notes that even a one-year suspension would have a serious impact on the surrounding community:

Hotels all over State College would go from being overbooked as soon as the football schedule is released to wondering where all the guests have gone.

Bars, restaurants, shops, grocery stores, beer distributors and gas stations would instantly feel the pinch if the parade of Penn State alums ceased their pigskin pilgrimages.

The head of the Central PA Convention and Visitors Bureau, which promotes tourism in and around Penn State, sees the death penalty for football as nothing short of a natural disaster.

“The analogy I would use is similar to what happened in the Gulf with the oil spill,” said Betsey Howell, the bureau’s executive director. “It devastated their tourism industry as it related to their beaches and fishing at that time. Football could be viewed as our beach season.”

Football fills all of the county’s lodging properties seven weekends a year. The spillover provides a welcome windfall to surrounding areas, helping ring cash registers at restaurants, shops and convenience stores within a 100-mile radius.

Take all that away, and you’re not just looking at a lost season, but wrecked livelihoods, Howell said.

Business, like football, is often a game of inches. And Penn State football is the force that pushes many businesses over the goal line of profitability. Without it, some could close, and jobs would be lost.

And it wouldn’t just be State College or even Centre County that would be hurt. The adverse economic ripples from an empty Beaver Stadium would radiate throughout central Pennsylvania, business and tourism officials said.

And, when it’s all over, would the fans come back? Or would it be like Major League Baseball after the last strike, where it took a few seasons for attendance to get back to where it was before hand? I suppose we’ll find out after the sanctions drop Monday morning.

Update: My speculation above may be mistaken. ESPN is up with a report that seems to indicate that the penalties imposed will not include the “death penalty”:

NCAA president Mark Emmert has decided to punish Penn State with severe penalties likely to include a significant loss of scholarships and loss of multiple bowls, a source close to the decision told ESPN’s Joe Schad on Sunday morning.

But Penn State will not receive the so-called “death penalty” that would have suspended the program for at least one year, the source said.

The penalties, however, are considered to be so harsh that the death penalty may have been preferable, the source said.

The NCAA will announce “corrective and punitive measures” for Penn State on Monday morning, it said in a statement Sunday. Emmert will reveal the sanctions at 9 a.m. ET in Indianapolis at the organization’s headquarters along with Ed Ray, the chairman of the NCAA’s executive committee and Oregon State’s president, the news release said.

It is expected the NCAA Division I Board of Directors and/or the NCAA Executive Committee has granted Emmert the authority to punish through non-traditional methods, the source told Schad.

Stay tuned, I suppose.

FILED UNDER: Quick Takes, Sports
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. On one hand, you have to wonder who this really effects. What of the players who were supposed to be a Penn State, who had nothing to do with what happened? What of the fans, students, alumni, etc, who had nothing to do with it? They seem to be the ones who will be punished.

    But, then, this is almost always what happens with the NCAA: others are penalized for something that they didn’t do.

  2. racehorse says:

    I have never understood this punish everyone philosophy when it comes to these NCAA sanctions. A lot of times, the people involved simply show up somewhere else. In this case, probably not, since one is in prison, one has died, and others may wind up prosecuted. But that is my point: let the courts handle it. Why punish players, fans, students, and staff? How about the people who work at the games to supplement their regular income or retirement pay? This would hit them hard. It also seems that the same schools still get into to trouble, so it is not like they really learned something or did a whole lot different. There is a long list of these large universities that show up on the “bad” list repeatedly. The money? Put some controls on the big alumin associations and contributors. So what will Penn State do differently? One thing would be to close down all showers in the locker rooms. Coaches and players will just have to wait and shower when they get home.

  3. SKI says:

    If true, I strongly disagree with the NCAA. The crimes, and they were crimes, were not intrinsically related to football. They could have been committed and may have been covered up for any high-profile department.

    Let’s posit a hypothetical: if a high-profile economics department that was the source of tons of prestige and grants had a leading professor that was a pedophile and the powers that be tried to deal with it covertly instead of going to the police, would anyone be calling for the school to close down the economics department?

  4. James Joyner says:

    I’m thinking the “unprecedented” just refers to the process rather than the penalty. That is, the NCAA bypassed its normal labyrinthine process in favor of deferring to the Freeh Report and is just imposing sanctions rather than going through a drawn out back-and-forth with Penn State.

  5. John Burgess says:

    Seems to me that the NCAA is saying, “We want you to love us, but not that much!”

    The NCAA has been working to ensure that teams have huge followings. The schools work to ensure that they get fat donations for the athletic programs. There are a lot of people who depend on this, whether free-rider or not.

    When the relationships become so close that punishing one side punishes all, then perhaps that relationship is too close. Schools aren’t going to willingly decrease their alumni contributions supporting their sports programs, and which are spent more widely. Especially not now, when there’s a bubble in higher ed.

    So, even though it’s against its own interests, the NCAA is forcing a wedge between sports and sport supporters. The hotels and restaurants are collateral damage.

    The innocent students? Yeah… sucks to be them. When the school gets hit with the tarbrush, everyone is getting smeared. Perhaps they have a cause for civil action against the school — though I doubt it. Perhaps they should be looking to transfer as quickly as possible.

  6. al-Ameda says:

    Considering that the NCAA just sanctioned Cal Tech (that’s right, CAL TECH!!!) for essentially nothing, I would think that in this case the sanctions would be very severe.

    But then agin, there’s the University of Kentucky, where the entire basketball program runs on “one and done” athletes” and the coach is John Calipari – and the NCAA apparently does not care to look.

  7. racehorse says:

    Additionally, I would have a rule about this statue business: No statues for any one still living. No statues for coaches or athletes unless they are in the professional halls of fame and they are deceased, with clean records! The only other statues would be for generals and war heroes! (Stonewall Jackson! )

  8. James Joyner says:

    @al-Ameda: “One and done” isn’t a violation of NCAA rules, it’s a consequence of the NCAA’s tacit partnership with the NBA. And, while there’s been enough sleaze surrounding his programs to make me think he’s sleazy, the fact is that Calipari has never been found to have engaged in NCAA violations even while the programs he ran came under NCAA sanctions.

    @racehorse: My graduate alma mater, Alabama, has a statue up for every coach who’s won a national football championship. That actually makes sense–it’s a shrine to football success, period, rather than enshrinement into sainthood.

  9. mattb says:

    @SKI: If that economics department was bringing in anywhere near as much money as Penn’s Football program, and it was clear that the university was choosing to allow this behavior to go on to protect the econ program, then yes, the program should be shut down.

    Bu I challenge you to find ANY academic program in the country that approaches the level of economic power as the Penn State football program.

    And while “football” isn’t to blame, the “football program at Penn State” surely is. What is disappointing is to read all of these voices of conservatives who just can’t wrap their heads around the need to punish a program that is fundamentally out of control.

    What’s worse is that the only reason for arguing against sanctions that I can see is the fact that you like college football more than you dislike university sanctioned child rape.

  10. mattb says:

    And, even if you don’t believe that the NCAA should punish the program for Sandusky’s crimes, if you like college football, there are a few reasons why the suppression of the crime was tantamount to cheating:

    The cover up protected the program in so much as it (1) kept the head coach in place, (2) kept quality players coming to the school, and (3) kept the program (and school) well funded.

    So — simply keeping this only at the perspective of the program — in those respect, the program had an unfair competitive advantage during recent years.

    If news of this had come out earlier, most likely they would have lost their coach, they would have lost some of their top players (either because of the stigma associate with the program or because the players would not be under Paterno), and they most likely would have lost some of their funding. All of this would have weakened the program, and potentially allowed other schools the Bowl Spots occupied by Penn State.

    There are myriad reasons why the Penn State program should be SMU’d that have to deal with the human tragedy and corruption associated with this scandal (see the above comment). But even if this was simply restricted to football, it’s easy to see why the program deserves to be sanctioned.

  11. Ben says:

    @SKI:
    I posted this in the other thread, but I’ll repost it here:

    SKI, you are missing the point. This huge tragedy would have been nipped in the bud at least 11 years ago, if not 14, if it were not for the ridiculous amount of power, deference and almost deification of the football program at this school. Their institutional priorities and power structure were so far out of whack, that it is unsalvageable. The fact that the president of the school deferred to the football coach’s judgment about the handling of a sex abuse scandal is preposterous. The entire system has to be burned to the ground so a new, healthy system can be built in its place.

    The fact that students, alumni and the surrounding community STILL support this weak and immoral man shows that they still cannot understand the depths of their own ridiculousness and need to be taught a lesson. For Christ’s sake, they still think that a freaking football coach’s legacy is more important than RAPED CHILDREN.

  12. T says:

    @James Joyner:

    UAT fans walk around calling nick saban “Saint Nick”…the deification is already well underway in tuscaloosa…

  13. @William Teach:

    What of the fans, students, alumni, etc, who had nothing to do with it?

    As the student and alumni reaction to the scandal shows, they DID have something to do with it. Their reaction has bascially been to stick their fingers in their ears and go “NANANANANA I CAN’T HEAR YOU”, which is exactly the attitude that allowed this scandal to occur.

  14. @mattb:

    The cover up protected the program in so much as it (1) kept the head coach in place, (2) kept quality players coming to the school, and (3) kept the program (and school) well funded.

    Exactly.

    It is impossible to separate the behavior from the football program.

    Further, the message has to be sent to other programs that a school that protects corruption in its football program will be punished.

  15. @mattb:

    Bu I challenge you to find ANY academic program in the country that approaches the level of economic power as the Penn State football program.

    Penn State annual federal research grants:

    Department of Defense: $173,111,000
    Deparment of Health and Human Services: $120,968,000
    National Science Foundation: $58,898,000
    USDA: $20,629,000
    NASA: $19,437,000
    DOE: $18,484,000
    Education: $11,645,000
    Other: $49,196,000

    Penn State annual football income: $50,582,670

    While football is probably the most visible part of the university, it’s actually pretty small relative to the academic operations.

  16. swearyanthony says:

    So the NCAA should give them a small smack on the wrist and let them go? Well, that should help discourage other colleges from covering it up in future. If the locals are angry, why don’t they aim their anger at the folks and the structures at PSU that aided and abetted this. Shut the team down. For good.

    With any luck the civil suits will do that anyway. You don’t get to just blame a couple of people when this sort of covering up for child rape and walk away. Not if you’re a church, not if you’re a football program.

  17. @Stormy Dragon:

    While football is probably the most visible part of the university, it’s actually pretty small relative to the academic operations.

    Not in power and influence. It is also not about raw numbers. Income from football is income. Grants to programs pay for those programs to function.

    Grants and academic prestige are extremely important, but on a program to program basis, nothing compares to football, especially big time football.

    I say this as someone who spent 7.5 years as a student (and briefly an instructor) at the University of Texas and as someone who has taught for 14 years at a school that has FBS football. You cannot overestimate the importance given to big time college football and to pretend that a given academic program has a power advantage over the football programs.

    To my knowledge, there is no active program to erect statues of professors at Penn State, Alabama, Florida (where Danny Wuerrfel, for example, has one), etc.

    The priorities are clear.

    And I say all of this also as a fan of college football (but one who occasionally questions whether he ought to be).

  18. grumpy realist says:

    I’d shut it down entirely, burn the stadium down, and raze the ground with salt. Sucks to be a hotel-keeper there, but they lived off the benefits from the program when it was around; they can’t complain now that they have to share in the hard times as well.

    “But we didn’t know.” Yes, you claim that. But all that cash flowing in to the area made it just so much easier for the powers that be to simply look away and acquiesce in the cover-up. So you, too, actually were part of the web that made this possible.

  19. And, to be clear, I am not advocating for statues of professors. Quite frankly, I find all the statue building to be a bit creepy.

  20. @Steven L. Taylor:

    Grants to programs pay for those programs to function.

    What do you think the university is doing with the football money? Putting it in the money bin to roll around in?

  21. @grumpy realist:

    Sucks to be a hotel-keeper there, but they lived off the benefits from the program when it was around; they can’t complain now that they have to share in the hard times as well.

    Sucks to be a UAW worker at GM, but they lived off the benefits from the program when it was around; they can’t complain now that they have to share in the hard times as well.

    Sucks to be a person living in New Orleans, but they lived off the benefits from the program when it was around; they can’t complain now that they have to share in the hard times as well.

    Sucks to be a government employee in Wisconsin, but they lived off the benefits from the program when it was around; they can’t complain now that they have to share in the hard times as well.

    Gee, this game is fun!

  22. SKI says:

    @mattb: you are joking, right? Hopkins medicine got $686 Million from NIG alone in 2010.

    Numerous research schools get major grants in the multi- millions every year. Football programs are minuscule compared to research dollars.

  23. SKI says:

    Argh. Can’t edit from the iPad. Should be NIH, not NIG. Link

  24. superdestroyer says:

    @SKI:

    The the economics department participated in a coverup for 14 years, my guess is that it would be shut down or totally reorganized. If the economics department had intimated other university employees , the economics program would cease to exist. If members of the economics program perjured themselves to protect the department, the department would probably not survive.

  25. SKI says:

    @Ben: No arguments on any of that – but it isn’t the NCAA’s job to decide if a school is moral enough to play football. That isn’t their role. Their role is to ensure a level-playing field.

  26. SKI says:

    @superdestroyer: If by reorganized you mean firing the individuals in charge and hiring new professors and administrators, fine. PSU should do that. But no one on the outside would tell the school they ad to do that in order to keep teaching.

  27. SKI says:

    @mattb:

    What’s worse is that the only reason for arguing against sanctions that I can see is the fact that you like college football more than you dislike university sanctioned child rape.

    F’ you very much too. I don’t care about any college football program, let alone Penn State. I haven’t seen a college football game start to finish (or any substantial part of one) in years. I care very much about process and the rule of law.

    The reality is that YOU are investing far more relevance in college football than I/ I’m proposing to teat it like every other department/company/entity. You are insisting on special rules that wouldn’t apply to anyone else.

  28. @Stormy Dragon: My point would be that for the Biology Department to get funding, it had to go out and get it (and continually go out and get it again and again and again. And, once it does, it does not pay the Chair of the Department $4 million a year. In general comparing grants acquired by to football revenues is not comparing like things.

    Further, the Chair of said department does not have the power that the Head Football Coach does, especially if we are talking about a Texas, an Alabama, or a Penn State.

    Were you not trying to make the point that academics, or at least certain departments, are as powerful as the football program?

  29. SKI says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Why are you insisting on treating the football program differently than every other department? Isn’t that just perpetuating the problem?

    As for power and arrogance, have you met any of the JHU doctors?

  30. SKI says:

    @Ben:

    The fact that students, alumni and the surrounding community STILL support this weak and immoral man shows that they still cannot understand the depths of their own ridiculousness and need to be taught a lesson. For Christ’s sake, they still think that a freaking football coach’s legacy is more important than RAPED CHILDREN.

    That lesson should be universal public shame & ridicule. The prosecution and imprisonment of those responsible. The civil suits that drain their coffers and impede their ability to function. That is, it should be everything that would impact anyone else.

    Would you insist the Government de-list and terminate the corporate form of a company that did similar things? If not, than why are you asking the NCAA to do the equivalent?

  31. UberMitch says:

    @SKI:

    Would you insist the Government de-list and terminate the corporate form of a company that [covered up child rape for decades]?

    Wait, are you saying the government shouldn’t shut down such a corporation?

    Of course it should.

  32. @SKI: Perhaps you misunderstand my point, or perhaps I am not explaining myself well. I am not saying it should be that way, but I am pointing out that it decidedly is that way.

    Football is a fiefdom unto itself within the modern university and any assessment of it has to take that into consideration.

  33. @SKI:

    Would you insist the Government de-list and terminate the corporate form of a company that did similar things? If not, than why are you asking the NCAA to do the equivalent?

    Actually, the sanctions against a corporation that engages in systematic illegal or corrupt practices may, indeed, lead to that company being effectively shut down.

  34. SKI says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Corporate practice, yes.

    Having executives that commit unrelated crimes and having the CEO, COO and Board not report them? Nope – not even close.

    Last I checked, the Catholic Church hasn’t been shut down. That is the precise issue we are talking about – Having employees commit crimes and covering them up. Are you calling for the Catholic Church to be disbanded?

  35. superdestroyer says:

    @SKI:

    The only way to keep universities from putting their winning football programs ahead of the rest of the university, the students, the staff, and the general public is to punish them so severely that no bad press, no negative story is worth covering up. If you punish cover ups more severely than the crime itself, then people will not cover up crimes.

    If you let Penn State off with a slap on the wrist, it send the message than why not cover up crimes and misdeeds and hope that nothing happens.

  36. SKI says:

    @UberMitch: No, it shouldn’t. It should prosecute the individuals involved. It should provide civil remedies to the victims against the corporations assets but it should not decide to shut the company down. The available remedies/penalties may very well end the company (and I’d shed no tears if PSU couldn’t recruit or get games scheduled or sell tickets and merchandise and had to close their program) but it shouldn’t be the decision of the Government to close them directly.

  37. mattb says:

    @Stormy Dragon & @SKI:

    Hopkins medicine got $686 Million from NIG alone in 2010.

    First of all Hopkins Medicine is a College and Hospital, not a program/specific department. So that money is shared across multiple programs. The comparisons in this present case would be the NCAA sacntioning ALL of Penn’s sports programs for actions that happened in Football.

    I would totally object to that.

    Second of all, let me stress how closely Federal funding is monitored. For example, a single IRB (institutional review board) violation ANYWHERE on the campus is enough to suspend ALL FUNDING for the campus. So for example, if a Sociologist does something wrong with a human subject, every part of the campus that receives Federal research funding looses until the problem clears up. And this happens more regularly than one might think.

    And the criteria for that sort of shut down is actually far lower than the usual NCAA infraction.

    So the comparisons really don’t hold a lot of water.

  38. SKI says:

    @superdestroyer: Bull If the public approbation is a sever as you say, they will learn that lesson. If it isn’t, then you are simply substituting your moral indignation for the law.

    Are you proposing to ban the Catholic Church? If not, what is the difference?

  39. @SKI:

    Would you insist the Government de-list and terminate the corporate form of a company that did similar things? If not, than why are you asking the NCAA to do the equivalent?

    First, the Catholic church isn’t a corporation, so I am not sure how it fits your example.

    Second, I would have loved to have seen a massive defrocking of priests involved.

  40. mattb says:

    @SKI:

    The reality is that YOU are investing far more relevance in college football than I/ I’m proposing to teat it like every other department/company/entity. You are insisting on special rules that wouldn’t apply to anyone else.

    No, I’m not. What I’m doing, like Steven is talking from a position of insider knowledge (I’m presently a grad student at a Tier 1 research university with competitive NCAA sports programs). So, I do know a bit about funding structures, the inside aspects of football (so to speak) and sanctions placed upon departments.

  41. mattb says:

    @SKI:

    Last I checked, the Catholic Church hasn’t been shut down. That is the precise issue we are talking about – Having employees commit crimes and covering them up. Are you calling for the Catholic Church to be disbanded?

    Because the Catholic Church is a unique entity in terms of American organizational structures. As you might realize they are heavily protected from government interference on these sort of issues thanks to the first Amendment and other legislation.

    Last time I check there is no constitutional right to a sports program. Further, Penn voluntarily belongs to the NCAA. If the consider the punishment too harsh, they are well within their rights to say F.U. and leave the organization. Finally, last I checked the NCAA is not even a governmental organization – so trying to talk about a government intervention doesn’t even make a lot of comparable sense.

  42. SKI says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: “The Catholic Church, a Corporation Sole”, no?

    Actually, you made my point in your last comment with your stress on “involved”. I am definitively all in favor of prosecuting everyone involved and allowing civil suits against PSU for the cover-up (including waiving SOL due to unclean hands). I’m not in favor of forbidding PSU from playing football with administrators and staff who weren’t involved. And that is what you are advocating.

  43. @SKI: As Mattb notes, and as should be obvious, the Catholic church is not the same as a football program, a university, nor a corporation. This makes the comparison problematic.

    I am definitively all in favor of prosecuting everyone involved and allowing civil suits against PSU for the cover-up (including waiving SOL due to unclean hands). I’m not in favor of forbidding PSU from playing football with administrators and staff who weren’t involved. And that is what you are advocating.

    The problem is:

    1) The university did benefit from the lack of disclosure (as Mattb clearly notes above).

    and

    2) As an organization the NCAA has an interest in making an example of offending programs so as to disincentivize future malfeasance.

  44. al-Ameda says:

    @James Joyner:

    @al-Ameda: “One and done” isn’t a violation of NCAA rules, it’s a consequence of the NCAA’s tacit partnership with the NBA. And, while there’s been enough sleaze surrounding his programs to make me think he’s sleazy, the fact is that Calipari has never been found to have engaged in NCAA violations even while the programs he ran came under NCAA sanctions.

    I did not mean to imply that ‘one-and-done’ was an NCAA violation. I did mean to imply (perhaps unfairly) that Kentucky is probably cheating.

    Did you read the CalTech story? Completely absurd.

  45. Racehorse says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I still cannot see how punishing the innocent: athletes, students, fans, workers, staff is right or legal. Let the FBI and courts deal with those who are responsible. If I was a worker who sold hot dogs/popcorn at the games, I would be very upset if there was not a football season. The courts don’t punish everyone in Chicago because of gang violence!

  46. @Racehorse: But, as was noted above, everyone associated with the football program benefited from the the cover-up.

    Beyond that, the bottom line is that when an organization engages in illegal or corrupt activity, the ramifications of that activity almost always radiates out to others, many of whom are innocent. No one would suggest, for example, the because innocents would suffer the Bernie Madoff not be prosecuted.

    If the CEO and the board of a company engaged in illegal or corrupt activities, we don’t forestall prosecution because it might harm the shareholders.

  47. @Racehorse: Also: the athletes currently at PSU would likely not be there had the school revealed Sandusky when it should have, as that revelation would have damaged the school’s reputation and would, therefore, have damaged recruiting.

    This is part of that point–the present is contingent on the past.

  48. Put it all another way: if the football program was protected in such a way that allowed a decade (or more) of child rape to continue, why shouldn’t the football program suffer?

  49. Gustopher says:

    I hope they are forced to change their mascot to a weeping child.

    Just destroy their brand, and their ability to market and profit from a program that enabled child rape.

  50. Gustopher says:

    I think that what JoePa and the administration did was even worse than what Sandusky did.

    Sandusky is sick, just wired wrong in the head. He did horrible, unforgivable things, but he did them because of a misfiring biological urge. Terrible, horrible, unforgivable and also tragic.

    The administration covered it up and allowed it to continue to protect a football team, and a pile of money. They’re child rapists after the fact. They collectively said “I’m ok with this”. There’s no tragedy in their story, just evil.

    On a just world they would be punished even more harshly than Sandusky.

  51. SKI says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    But, as was noted above, everyone associated with the football program benefited from the the cover-up.

    Did they? Wouldn’t they have been much better off had they turned Sandusky in immediately? They discovered it, they turn him in. The PR fallout is short-lived and they can’t be held responsible for the acts of an individual that they reported as soon as they knew.

  52. @SKI: It would have been better for all concerned had they reported it then. Part of the point is, however, they did not and as a result there was another decade or so of child rape. This deserves some amount of punishment, yes?

    The cover-up aided the football program by avoided any damage to things like recruiting (which would have suffered) had Sandusky been exposed.

  53. In short: when an institutional systematically and knowingly engages in corrupt and/or illegal actions, then the institutions bears culpability–especially when that institution is the one that infused the key actors, especially Paterno, with as much power as it did.

    Had this been something going on in, say, the History Department, the Chair of that department would hardly have been deferred to the way Joe Pa was in this situation. Whose fault is that? It is the university’s. It was the entire way in which we specifically empower collegiate football.

  54. SKI says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Of course. But the punishment is (a) the prosecution and public disparagement of the individual’s responsible and (b) the civil suits from the victims.

  55. @SKI:

    the individual’s responsible

    But this was not just a case of individuals. It was a case of, to use the phrase, lack of institutional control and oversight. Hence, the institution deserves some of the punishment above and beyond the specific individuals involved.

  56. Also, punishing the institution sends message to other institutions. Under your rules, a program that cheats or acts illegally would get off scott free if it simply fired the persons who did the cheating, even if it helped, say, get a prized recruit and win a national championship. Such a response incentivizes the bad behavior.

  57. mattb says:

    @SKI:

    Did they? Wouldn’t they have been much better off had they turned Sandusky in immediately? They discovered it, they turn him in. The PR fallout is short-lived and they can’t be held responsible for the acts of an individual that they reported as soon as they knew.

    In retrospect, of course this is the case. But the fact is that they chose to obscure it for as long as possible in order TO PROTECT THE FOOTBALL PROGRAM.

    It wasn’t to protect Sandusky. It was to protect Parterno and THE FOOTBALL PROGRAM.

    EVERYTHING WAS DONE IN THE SERVICE OF FOOTBALL.

    Why is this so hard to understand?!

    And, to this point, people keep wondering why the football program needs to be punished? Because, in it’s name, for it’s protection, child rape was allowed to continue to take place -within its locker rooms, within its stadium.

    So I’m sorry, but the the idea that “innocent” students and players will be hurt doesn’t amount to a hill of beans in my eyes. This is about an out-of-control program and a coach and university structure that allowed it to go so out of control.

  58. @mattb:

    You’re missing my point. It wasn’t about the appropriateness of Penn State’s funding or how well it’s spent. I was addressing the specific claim that football was allowed to get away with what it did because of how much money it brought in.

    On the scale of the university’s budget, football didn’t bring in that much money, and there are other programs that bring in far more money yet which are far better watched over.

  59. Ben says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    It’s not just about the actual dollars brought in though. I guarantee you that a large portion of the students who go to Penn State want to go there because they have a kick-ass football team. 17-year-old kids make stupid decisions like that. Most of them don’t give a crap how much grant money the school got from DoD. And the school knows what puts asses in the seats, and the football team is a prime driver of that. And that is the case for most state schools and hell most of Division 1-A football schools in general. So the football team gets the ostrich treatment when they’re doing bad, and kid gloves when they get caught.

  60. @Stormy Dragon: But it is not just a case of the balance sheets.

    Universities see football as a major marketing tool. Indeed, what most people know about schools is their football program. An illustrative anecdote: when I first started working at Troy and I would go to conferences, no one knew anything about the school. Once we moved to IA (now FBS) and we were on the ESPN ticker and played schools like Miami and Nebraska, people knew who we were. This confers a power on a football program that the budget of a given department, or its grant haul, simply does not.

    Students pick schools based on football, not the grants the physic department garnered.

    You are severely underestimating the power of these programs and their relative significance on these campuses.

    The fact that Paterno was clearly the most powerful person at PSU should help underscore what I am describing.

  61. mattb says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    I was addressing the specific claim that football was allowed to get away with what it did because of how much money it brought in.

    Actually this misses another important point, grant money comes with major strings attacked — it can only be used to the most specific of uses: research and research related staff.

    The money that comes in through football is far more flexible and able to be used in multiple ways across the campus.

    That, to some degree, makes it far more valuable for a university. Plus everything that Steven has written about the related prestige of the university. And finally, even if they are not directly donating to the football programs, Penn Football is a critical aspect of Alumni giving (as in other uni’s) and alumni dollars are critical to maintaining the school’s endowments and helping sustaining the physical infrastructure of the campus.