Did the NCAA Get it Right in Regards to Penn State?

Today, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, college sports’ governing body, levied the largest sanctions against any college sports program in history. Pennsylvania State University will pay a $60 million fine that will go to establish an endowment for child victims of sexual abuse, lose scholarships and face a post season ban for the next four years, as well as vacating any wins from 1998 to 2011. The $60 million represents the annual gross income of the school’s football program. Vacating the wins means that Joe Paterno is no longer the winningest coach in NCAA history.

The actions were unprecedented both for their severity and how they unfolded. The normal NCAA enforcement process did not take place. Instead, NCAA president Mark Emmert gained approval from the board of directors for the penalties. The board is made up of 22 college presidents and chancellors. Edward J. Ray, the NCAA executive committee chairman and president of Oregon State, said, "Not only does the NCAA have the authority to act in this case, we also have the responsibility." Ray cited the Sandusky criminal investigation and the recently released Freeh Commission report as reasons for the NCAA actions. Ray noted that Penn State commissioned the Freeh report and agreed with the findings.

Clearly these sanctions are an attempt to appease the families and the victims. But is punishing an entire school and an entire sports program for the inaction of a few, and the deplorable acts of one, the right course of action? The NCAA is trying to inject themselves in the affairs of the State and the school by passing this punishment. There were no on the field violations that deserved these sanctions, just conduct off the field. Luckily the student athletes on the football team that had nothing to do with this situation will be allowed to transfer to any school that will have them, with no penalty to their eligibility. As sad as this situation continues to be, the NCAA has to realize that certain predicaments are larger than they are.



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