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December 08, 2016

NCAA Sanctions Penn State, Paterno Legacy Tarnished, Sports Fans Learn Limit to Loyalty

After being discussed for months, the punishment has finally been handed down to Penn State University. Jerry Sandusky is in jail for the rest of his life and Joe Paterno has passed away. Penn State University was left holding the bag for what a few people from their football program did.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) made the decision on how to punish Penn State. Monday, NCAA President Mark Emmert had the unfortunate task of announcing what the punishment would be. As not just the sports world, but the whole world, watched on to see how the program that enabled a monster like Sandusky would be punished, Emmert announced the following sanctions.

  • A $60 million fine to be paid over the next 5 years with the money going to help victims of child sexual abuse.
  • A four-year ban from bowl games and any postseason play.
  • A reduction of ten scholarships a year at first, then 20 scholarships for four years.
  • A five-year probation on the entire athletic department.
  • The vacating of all wins from 1998-2011.

Furthermore, any player can leave Penn State and transfer to another school and begin play immediately without sitting out one year first, as is normal protocol.

While some of the Penn State community does bring up a good point that none of the violations or what Sandusky did helped the football team win any games in an unfair way, it was still the football program that enabled Sandusky. Simply, such behavior cannot be tolerated and allowed to go unpunished.

Death Penalty

It is arguable that Penn State deserved the death penalty. In collegiate sports, the death penalty is the suspension of an entire program for a season or more. The death penalty would have essentially shut down Penn State football for the next year.

But maybe the death penalty would have been better. With the loss of so many scholarships, that much money, and being banned from postseason play until the 2016 season, the Penn State Nittany Lions are going to play the next four seasons at a great disadvantage and essentially for no goal. After that, once the scholarships get restored, it would still take a few years to bring up the roster to championship contention.

Paterno’s Legacy

The legacy of arguably the best college coach in history has been taken down a great deal. The statue is gone. The title of most wins in Division 1 play is gone. With the erasing of all wins from 1998-2011, the school loses all 112 wins and that is reflected on Paterno’s record. Paterno’s record now sits at 298-136-3. No longer is Paterno number one all time, he is now fifth.

Once upon a time Paterno was not just a coach, but also a leader of men. He emphasized education and often had the team with the highest graduation rate. But all of that has been washed down the drain.

From now on Joe Paterno will be seen in the same light as OJ Simpson. OJ Simpson is one of the greatest NFL running backs of all time. He was a charismatic man who was adored by the public. But a big mistake late in his life changed his legacy and now when people think of Simpson, they think murderer first, then football player.

Paterno had a great career. But he enabled Jerry Sandusky, a man who was convicted of 45 counts child sexual abuse. Granted, Paterno did not commit the crime, but he did not stop it. He let his loyalty to his friend trump being a good human being.

The Limit to Loyalty

From the Penn State scandal the country must learn that loyalty is not unlimited. As expressed by ESPN Radio host Colin Cowherd, no relationship warrants the loyalty to allow, much less enable, such a crime. The Penn State community was too loyal to Paterno and Paterno was too loyal to Sandusky. At the end of the day, the price for loyalty was legacy.

Paterno and Penn State were once the perfect example of how a program should be run and how men should act. Now they are the perfect example to teach us all that we never know what is truly hidden behind the smoke and mirrors and the front put on by any man or organization. Whether the punishment was appropriate or whether the death penalty should have been given, it cannot be denied that Penn State deserved to be sanctioned.

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