since the powerful Freeh report was released last week, we have heard a plethora of questions, concerns, and thoughts from all of you regarding the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State. The front and center of that debate has been whether or not Penn State deserves the death penalty and recently, the powerless NCAA president Mark Emmert put his two cents in on potential support for imposing harsh penalties on the university, including the death penalty. The latest rumor involves arguably a more powerful figure than Emmert. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney may find himself in a position to have the authority to enforce harsh financial penalties, suspensions, and fire certain athletic administrators at Penn State if more evidence surfaces and additional Big Ten support is bolstered.
Currently, the Big Ten Leaders are compiling a list of proposals on how to best manage the Penn State situation, including expelling Penn State from the Big Ten altogether, however the Chronicle Of Higher Education is citing there may not be enough support within the conference for this to take shape before the start of the 2012-2013 season. As of now the Big Ten handbook calls for a 60% vote at minimum to expel a conference program, however that will change to 70% (eight teams) once the season begins. With that being said, it would require almost all of the Big Ten programs to pile on support for expulsion in the next few weeks for Penn State to get the boot and so its probably not going to happen, but the fact that this option is even on the table is scary. Just from a financial perspective alone, expelling Penn State would result in a massive revenue loss for the conference, so the fact expulsion is on the table is a big deal, even though I don’t believe it will happen.
Now, I fully understand this is a sensitive, divisive topic, but I will express my feelings on the subject nonetheless. There’s no question this is the biggest scandal in college sports history- that goes without saying, however I am not a believer in the death penalty being the solution to this particular scandal. Sandusky will be in jail forever, Schultz and Curley are gone, Joe Paterno is no longer with us, and assuming all the administrators and employees involved with the scandal have been removed and punished by PSU, there is no way on earth its sensible to punish the current Penn State. Bill Simmons made a thought-provoking point recently on his weekly podcast. He challenged us to ask if this scandal happened in the math or engineering department, would it be just and fair to remove that department from the university altogether? Sure, the football program brings in tens of millions of dollars for the university and the Big Ten, but what about I get that its apples to oranges here, but i’m referring to the principle at hand.
Its time for the healing to begin in Happy Valley and let the legal process play out on its own. The NCAA will impose their penalties and that is unquestionably expected and deserving, however nothing is gained by punishing the current football players, current students, new administrators, and perhaps most importantly prospective Penn State students. This scandal has tainted the reputation of this university as a whole and imposing expulsion as the ultimate solution only dirties the waters in Happy Valley more, making it more difficult for Penn State to continue to attract quality students altogether. Think about all the high school students in Pennsylvania and the Tri-State area who depend on Penn State University to be the next chapter on their path to success in life. Think about the fact these kids will think twice about applying their because they fear future employers will have a bitter taste in their mouth about Penn State when they apply for that coveted job. Taking those dreams away is the answer? This scenario is not far fetched by any stretch of the imagination and it sure as hell isn’t fair to those teenagers to make planning for their future even more difficult than it already is. If that’s not a harsh penalty, I don’t know what is. Think about that.
Read more about why the Freeh report raises major questions at college football programs across the nation.