Who Will Sanction the NCAA in Wake of Penn State?
The NCAA, the organization that’s normally as inflexible as a PVC pipe, gave it up last week.
So what if part of the settlement of a filed court case was that it didn’t do anything wrong. Smart people know what was at work here: that even with the wrongdoing at Penn State, this NCAA revealed itself as a lying, cheating, and oft-incompetent organization infatuated with a beer-muscle bully pulpit. And they did it all under the guise of “protecting” college athletics. In many ways, it is the married preacher who teaches you the wonders of God, but after the sermon sneaks behind the altar to bang the church secretary.
So the Penn State football program got its 112 wins restored (taken away in the original “consent” decree), while Joe Paterno got re-credited with his 111, to become once again the all-time winningest college football coach, and the $60 million fine on PSU was fine-tuned to help child abuse programs only within the state of Pennsylvania.
Penn State nation celebrated this development, which I found somewhat peculiar. Joe Paterno may have been wronged in the manner with which he was fired as football coach, and his character may have been besmirched. But I think we go too far when we make Paterno a victim. This was a dark chapter of Penn State’s history that isn’t going to be wiped away by smearing the campus with Paterno’s total win number of 409. When we do that, we cheat the kids who were the true victims of Jerry Sandusky’s heinous child abuse.
The above paragraph is in no way intended to join forces with the hater pundits who have sniped hard at Penn State, categorizing it as a university who would sanction child abuse all for the glory of their football program. That’s a narrative convenient only for ignoramuses. See, once you carry around a thought like that, you tend not to think any deeper in search of the real truth. I don’t know why Keith Olbermann has become one of these guys. He’s supposed to be intelligent. Locally, it’s this Dom Giordano guy. But I get that. He seems like a lunk.
So here is the real truth.
Sandusky hid his predator ways from everybody, including, evidently, his wife, who still believes he didn’t do it. An allegation from 1998, when he was still on the staff, died on the vine because police didn’t have any evidence. The more damaging allegations came when Sandusky was no longer a football coach at Penn State. So how exactly did Penn State harbor a predator on their staff so their football program could benefit?
Whatever Mike McQuery witnessed that day in a locker room shower with Sandusky and a boy, testimony showed he never was able to communicate that clearly to Paterno. Paterno reported the incident to the higher authorities. If you feel Paterno should have done more (and I have been on record saying the head football coach should have strongly followed up to make sure his bosses were on the case and perhaps even demanded that Sandusky no longer be allowed to come into the football offices or even on campus), I can live with that. But this notion of a cover up; that intelligent, grown men would simply allow child abuse to go on so as not to disturb the football program — is simply preposterous.
The Freeh Report was littered with inaccuracies, conclusions drawn from specious details, ambiguous e-mails, and scribbles on Post-It notes. Pertinent parties to the issue weren’t even interviewed. And this is what the NCAA used as their “due process.” Bet the Founding Fathers would be proud of that.
Here’s more truth. NCAA president Mark Emmert wormed a consent decree out of Penn State with fraudulent misrepresentation. Emmert played the “good cop,” telling Rodney Erickson that the “bad cops,” his presidential committee, wanted to rain down on Penn State the death penalty. We know today that was a lie. In addition, an e-mail trail showed that Emmert and his henchmen were secretly advising Freeh.
At the time the NCAA laid down the hammer on Penn State, the organization was a pack of dying batteries. It had been criticized for flawed action in a three month period at UCLA, USC and then the University of Miami. Its public Q rating was at an all-time low. For the NCAA, the Penn State scandal became a rush of blood to the head.
And so we move on.