In my blog post last November, I looked at the much discussed Penn State football scandal and tried to determine whether the late Joe Paterno should be held accountable for the terrible abuses that took place at the hands of his once assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky. Sunday, the NCAA forced Penn State to remove the famous Joe Paterno statue outside Beaver Stadium. Further punishment on the University’s football program was announced yesterday and it includes, a $60 million sanction, a four-year football postseason ban, a reduction in football scholarships and a vacation of all wins dating back to 1998. Joe Paterno will no longer be the winningest coach in college football.
Penn State did not receive the much debated “death penalty” from the NCAA, which bans a University from competing in a sport for at least one year, but they did figure out a way to punish Penn State, which many would argue, is much more severe than the death penalty.
Over the last day or two, there’s been a lot of outrage from loyal Penn State alums expressed through Facebook and Twitter about the excessive punishment. Many argue that justice will be served with the sentencing of Sandusky and that the football program and the current athletes, who had nothing to do with the scandal, should not be punished anymore.
In my opinion, if you are outraged by the tearing down of Joe Paterno’s statue and all the sanctions that have been placed on the football team, just turn around and pretend like it’s not happening. That’s what the University and Joe Paterno did for more than a decade. Their actions, or lack thereof, were directly related to the continued abuse of children in Sandusky’s charity, Second Mile. The University and Joe Paterno had full knowledge of Sandusky’s “issues”, yet no one took this knowledge to the police. Victims could have been saved, yet nothing was done. In New York, we all know we have an obligation that if we see something, we should say something.
Joe Paterno built his reputation and career on creating teams that did the right thing – both on and off the field. As the head coach for one of the most prestigious college football programs of all-time, Joe Paterno had a moral and professional obligation to say something…to the authorities.
Throughout our lives we all face teachable moments. The University of my home-state should take this as moment to reflect on their values and priorities. Penn State is a highly regarded academic institution. It should not be defined by its football program. And it will continue to be a great institution. The NCAA has set an important precedent for college sports, one in which I hope changes the course of action for years to come.