Penn State Football Sanctions: Fair, Too Far, or Not Far Enough?

Penn State students and employees reacts as they listen to a television report about the NCAA sanctions. (AP Photo/Gene …On Monday, the NCAA announced that it would punish Penn State's football program for protecting assistant coach Jerry Sandusky and allowing his sexual abuse of children to continue unchecked for years. The sanctions -- among the harshest ever handed down by the organization -- include eliminating scholarships, banning post-season activities, vacating all of the team's victories from 1998 to 2011, and imposing a $60 million fine.

Paterno gets fired, football fans riot. Where's the outrage over the rape of a child?

"[The penalties] reflect the magnitude of these terrible acts but also assures Penn state will rebuild an athletic culture that went horribly awry," NCAA president Mark Emmert said at a press conference in Indianapolis. "Football will never be put ahead of educating, protecting and nurturing young people."

The University accepted the sanctions without question.

"The NCAA ruling holds the University accountable for the failure of those in power to protect children and insists that all areas of the University community are held to the same high standards of honesty and integrity," Penn State interim president Rodney Erickson said in a statement accepting the penalties. "We must create a culture in which people are not afraid to speak up, management is not compartmentalized, all are expected to demonstrate the highest ethical standards, and the operating philosophy is open, collegial, and collaborative."

Students groaned and gasped as they heard about the punishment. Some covered their mouths with their hands; others bowed their heads and looked grave. Most were shocked by the decision to erase Penn State's winning record retroactively to 1998, the year Coach Paterno first became aware of Sandusky's actions. That strikes a whopping 112 wins from the school's record and makes Paterno no longer the winningest coach of all time.

"It makes it really personal," one student told WUSA-TV. "I was there for some of those wins."

Though NCAA president Mark Emmert said that the organization "recognizes that student-athletes are not responsible for these events and worked to minimize the impact of its sanctions on current and incoming football student-athletes," the move also negates the winning records of many athletes who had nothing to do with the sexual abuse scandal. Several athletes who had pledged to Penn State, including defensive tackle Greg Webb and defensive end Dajuan Drennon, opted on Monday to go to North Carolina instead.

Though nothing can change the past for Sandusky's victims, the $60 million fine -- which is equal to the average gross revenue that Penn State's football program brings in -- will be used to help victims of child sexual abuse. But even though the football program has been effectively crippled, some say that the sanctions didn't go far enough.

"No penalty addresses the extraordinarily callous public demonstrations by many at Penn State in support of Joe Paterno," Karen Polesir, the director of Philadelphia SNAP, a survivor's network for people who have suffered from sexual abuse, told Reuters. "The school's administration failed egregiously to rein in those whose actions intimidated victims, witnesses and whistleblowers from speaking up. The rallies and riots were a clear indication that kids aren't safe in the Penn State community. Yet even now, almost no one's talking about or addressing the rallies and riots. That's an egregious oversight."

What do you think? Was the penalty again Penn State football fair? Or did it go too far -- or not far enough?


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