As you may have noticed if you watched ESPN for 10 seconds yesterday, the Louis Freeh investigation has concluded, and the findings do not bode well for Penn State in the slightest. Many people will go on bashing JoePa and the entire administration for what they could and should have done, but I am here to talk about a more long term effect. Does the Penn State football program deserve the “Death Penalty”?
Although one could argue that the players would be the ones who suffer, and they themselves did not take part in this heinous act and cover up, thinking about the death penalty is a very serious and necessary topic. The death penalty has only been imposed a handful of times in the history of the NCAA, most notably in 1987-88 at SMU. It is the harshest penalty a school can receive. Schools receiving the death penalty are forced to take a hiatus from the sport all together. Usually causing a devastating effect on a program. Normally it is called upon when a school fails to showcase institutional control; Penn State is a perfect example of that.
What the Free Report showed in its findings was a school that had become so distinguished by its football program that it lost a grip on reality. It had become more important to adhere to the standards of the football program than the standards of morality. If that doesn’t waive a red flag, I don’t know what would. In life, there are more important things than football, and the outside image of a program, like preserving the innocence of a young child.
The image of Penn State and their football program has forever been tainted, and what is left of Joe Paterno’s legacy lays shattered on the ground. Although we have learned from the case with SMU that the effects of the death penalty last far longer than intended to, in this scenario, it may just be the best thing for the program. If the Penn State football program, which mind you is in the “Legends” division of the Big 10, remains one of the elite programs throughout history, it would be a travesty. People do not start to forgive people until they truly feel sorry for them. Which is why it is necessary to administer the death penalty to Penn State. Stripping them of their elite status as a football program and letting their current players transfer to other programs at their will, can clear some of the intolerable stank surrounding the program. They should suffer for years to come for the actions of their top decision makers. Years from now, as they attempt to rebuild the program, this incident will not be forgotten, but starting fresh and rising from the ashes would be a decent start, and it may be just what they need, or deserve.