What to do with Penn State?
Written by Curt Popejoy on 07/13/2012
Unless you've been living under a rock that doesn't have internet access, then you have heard that former FBI Director Louis Freeh returned his findings on his investigation of how Penn State handled the Jerry Sandusky situation. Here is a link to the full report if you feel like drudging through all 267 pages. http://assets.espn.go.com/pdf/2012/0712/psupressrelease.pdf I did read through the vast majority of it, but Like secret agent Sterling Malory Archer says, "Broad strokes!". No one really needs to read the whole thing to get the jist. Powers that be, including now deceased former head football coach Joe Paterno, former Penn State President Graham Spanier, suspended AD Tim Curley, and retired vice president Gary Schultz conspired to varying degrees to help Sandusky and impede his investigation. The Freeh report was telling and emotional and has the world in an uproar.
I am not here to analyze the findings or editorialize on how much of it I am on board with and how much I am not. At this point it's a fool's errand to try to look at this report in any pragmatic sort of way. For the masses there are far too many emotions in play for anyone to question the validity of the report or to compartmentalize the blame at all.
What I do want to talk about is where does Penn State go from here. Between ESPN radio and my Twitter feed the options being tossed out for the University in terms of a punishment are many and varied. But the term I keep hearing tossed around is the "death penalty".
Quickly, here's what that means in college football terms. SMU got the death penalty back in 1986, when it was discovered that they'd been paying players for about a decade. They lost 2 full seasons of football and to this day, some 25 years later, the program has never recovered. And this is the only time in the history of college football that the NCAA has imposed the cancellation of an entire season as a penalty.
Doing this to Penn State is asinine. For one thing, what happened, while tragic and deplorable, was not related to the players on the Penn State football team. All those seasons that those horrible events were happening, and the cover up was in place, those young men took the field oblivious to it, and just played football. I'd be willing to wager, that more 99 percent of the people who've been at Happy Valley, State College, PA during the entirety of this had no clue any of this was happening. So the death penalty would in essence be put in to punish fewer than 1 percent of the Penn State family, none of which are currently or will be involved in the program from this point forward.
I am all for punishing those who were involved with the cover up. Whether that's criminal or civil so be it. And obviously when this all shakes out none of these people will still be employed by the university. I'm also fine with what will almost certainly be tens of millions of dollars in civil suits by the families of these victims against Penn State. But what exactly should Senior quarterback Matt McGloin be punished for? This is a young man in graduate school, so if given the option to transfer without penalty, he'd probably forgo his final season of football for academics. If you want to talk about what is fair, what is fair about this?
Everyone needs to put their emotions aside and have some empathy for the young men on this team. If they should chose to transfer because of what has happened and remove themselves from the attachment of Penn State, they should be allowed to do so without a penalty of having to sit out a year. But there are plenty of members of the Penn State family, including a lot of those players who aren't going to let the careless, selfish actions of a few people ruin what has been a great college experience. They want to stay at Penn State and they want to play football for them, and they should be allowed to do so.
And so I'd say to those of you clamoring for the death penalty, think bigger than that. The death penalty was put on SMU not only to punish them, but to deter it from happening again. Is cancelling a season going to make good old boys less likely to cover this up if it happened somewhere else? Don't let the actions of a few bad men influence your thinking in a way that would hurt so many innocent people.
Last Edited: 07/13/2012