Any time a scandal of national proportion breaks, you can count on rapid reactions from the public and the media looking for the swiftest way to dispense justice. Such was the case a week ago when the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State reached its apparent crescendo with the release of the Freeh Report, which essentially confirmed all of the assumptions that we had made about the horrible degree of negligence which was exhibited by Penn State officials, including coach Joe Paterno and university president Graham Spanier.
No later than a few hours after the report was released, the internet was bombarded with articles about why Penn State deserves the infamous "death penalty" from the NCAA, which would mean that the school would not be allowed to field a football team for a full season. Doing so would be an unprecedented move by the governing body, as it has only levied such a punishment five times before, and always for reasons relating to competitive balance — point shaving, recruiting violations, and payments to players. Never before has a school gotten the death penalty for non-athletic violations, in this case the cover-up of a sex scandal.
The cases made for taking this step have varied. Josh Levin of Slate says that it’s "the only way to help Penn State help itself," while Buzz Bissinger takes a decidedly more vengeful stance. But while I can appreciate the desire to see the pedophile-protecting scum at Penn State get what's coming to them, the death penalty is less than what they deserve.
Think about what the consequences of levying this punishment on Penn State will be. The majority of their scholarship players will transfer, but some will remain. Meanwhile, the school will pour all its energy into rebuilding their image and recruiting base, essentially getting a clean slate with which to start over. They'll push the narrative about how they've paid the ultimate price, and when they return to the field the following year they will do so with ESPN lining up wall-to-wall coverage of "the redemption of Penn State," complete with endless shots of that damn Paterno statue.
In essence, as stated by Deadspin's Drew Magary, Penn State will get the martyr complex it so desperately craves right now. The Penn State fanboys — you know, the ones who are guarding the statue of a man who knowingly harbored a sexual predator and pretending as if the past 8 months never happened — will push the agenda forward and act as if their return to the field is the end of the greatest injustice since Mandela went to prison.
The attitude that these people have maintained is the primary reason why Paterno was able to cast his protective net over Sandusky and allow him to get away with his monstrous deeds in the first place. There's no reason to give a group of enablers a reason to feel sorry for themselves.
So screw Penn State. Let them dig themselves out their own mess without having the NCAA hand them a massive eraser.
The difference between this and other instances of the death penalty being levied is that there was no stigma surrounding those other schools that would hamper their ability to recruit. Had SMU been allowed to operate as it always had, no one would have been wary about going there lest they be ridiculed by their peers. But put yourself in the shoes of a highly sought-after recruit — do you want to go to Michigan or Ohio State, or do you want to take a recruiting trip to Penn State and have everyone say "Better watch yourself in the showers!"?
Believe me, Penn State is going to have a prolonged period of misery as they struggle over the next decade to compete or to bring in any recruit with a rating over two stars. Let them wallow in it. Let these pathetic followers who still worship at the altar of Paterno watch as their precious program tumbles down to the level of Florida A&M or Ball State.
Let these pathetic followers who still worship at the altar of Paterno watch as their precious program tumbles down to the level of Florida A&M or Ball State.
One of the drawbacks to the death penalty is that the revenue streams from football usually go to fund most of the other sports at a school that don't make money, thereby punishing every student athlete except the football players, who are allowed to go to another school. Instead, let Penn State continue to play and sell tickets to their delusional fans who refuse to admit that any wrongdoing occurred. They'll just do so as a second-rate football program.
And while you're at it, fine them somewhere between $50-100 million (with the funds going to a charity or awareness program for sexual abuse victims) to offset the money that they pulled in hand over fist during the 10+ years that Sandusky spent there after they learned what he was. And just to ensure that the current players who had nothing to do with the scandal aren't punished unfairly, allow them to transfer without having to sit out a year, as they would be allowed to do if the death penalty were levied.
Bringing the hammer down on Penn State in the traditional sense is a guaranteed way to keep them in the spotlight. Letting them fade into oblivion is a far better way to enact some justice.
Fan Hub Action
Jeanne-Marie Jansen Lowell May 23rd
Greatest relief pitcher EVER! Someday we can all tell our grandchildren we got to see him pitch. A true legend!
Charlie Lobosco May 23rd
Ask Craig; I’ll say it again; not the best relief pitcher ever; the best MLB player ever. Yes, that includes everyone.
Jim Lowell May 23rd
Great tribute to a great player, a great Yankee, and a great man.Thank you!
Frank Lowell May 23rd
Great job, Ryan! As a life-long Yankee hater since the 1950’s in the closing days of the Brooklyn Dodgers, I can only sit back and…
Tiffany Riddle May 23rd
Love the article, and I completely agree!
Michael T Carr May 16th
Another good article, Craig Lowell.
Charlie Lobosco May 1st
This is a very compelling story because Mr. Collins is a very passionate, tough, intelligent, athelete taking on some additional responsibliity to help others as…
Scott Cohen May 1st
Charlie.. very well said.. he does have guts
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