Nearly 500 miles away from the epicenter of the biggest scandal to rock college football, NCAA President Mark Emmert put what may be one of the final nails in the coffin of the Jerry Sandusky, Joe Paterno and Penn State episode.
Emmert doled out one of the most severe sanctions ever handed out to an institution — a $60 million fine, a four-year bowl ban, five years of probation, a reduction in scholarships as well as wiping away 111 victories over the last 14 seasons.
All of this came as a result of horrible decision making by the administrators at Penn State, not a violation of NCAA rules.
Emmert, like the everyone else in the world, had every right to be outraged by Paterno and others closing their eyes and ears when allegations of Sandusky sexually abusing children began to surface. After years of making more right than wrong calls on the sideline, Paterno absolutely dropped the ball in the handling of his long-time assistant.
As a father, a leader and a Catholic, Paterno should have been outraged knowing someone he was associated with had the capability of doing such horrible things to a child. Instead, Sandusky and his sexual abuse allegations were quickly swept under rugs, hidden in closets or anywhere else people could hide the truth.
And for this, the people who allowed Sandusky to continue to prey on young children will face their day in criminal court and may soon be reunited with the convicted pedophile in prison.
As much it sickens me to know these type of things happened under Paterno’s watch, I believe Emmert overstepped his authority to punish Penn State. No NCAA rules or regulations were broken and in the time frame which Penn State has been stripped of its victories, Sandusky was the defensive coordinator for only 19 of those victories.
New university president Rodney Erickson started the process of separating Penn State from anything related to Paterno Sunday morning with the removal of a statue outside of Beaver Stadium. It was the beginning of what should have been self-imposed penalties against the Nittany Lion football program.
Instead of coming from the offices of acting athletic director Dave Joyner or Erickson, the sanctions were sent down the pike from Indianapolis. It appears as if Erickson readily accepted the punishment because he wanted to avoid the “death penalty.” If he was ready to change the atmosphere and culture in College Station, Erickson should have been pro-active and announced his own set of penalties.
It wouldn’t have been the first time the NCAA accepted and agreed to a school’s self-imposed sanctions. Instead, Emmert made Penn State the poster child for a newer, tougher NCAA which seems poised to not only penalize the rule breakers, but law breakers.
It doesn’t seem enough for the NCAA to worry about recruiting violations like the ones commonly occurring at the University of Miami or the academic fraud just up the road in Chapel Hill. No, the NCAA wants to pay attention to the police blotter as well.
This action raises the question — how far is too far for Emmert and the NCAA. Emmert is now becoming the collegiate version of Roger Goodell and diving into uncharted territory. The organization’s rule book is about to double or triple in size because Emmert is now set to weigh in on every athlete’s or coach’s run in with the law.
Enough is enough.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org