NCAA’s Penn State penalties were harsh, but not harsh enough

The NCAA came down on Penn State Monday with harsh penalties as expected. Penn State was fined $60 million by the NCAA, will lose 90 scholarships over the next five seasons, and is facing a postseason bowl ban for the next four years.

This was the NCAA’s chance to show its toughness when in reality it is a powerless organization that exists to profit off the big business of college basketball and college football. The organization dropped the news on a Monday morning ensuring it would be the most talked about story throughout the day. The NCAA figured it would receive pats on the back for levying punishments that make the organization seem powerful, and it did. But they still didn’t do enough, and it was by intention.

While some have argued that the penalties against Penn State essentially will kill the program for the next handful of years, the NCAA missed an opportunity to do something bigger: prevent the program from playing games for years.

Scholarship players or not, Penn State will still be able to field a football team and compete in the Big Ten. Season ticket sales for the football program are up. Joe Paterno merchandise is still in demand. Students, alumni, and fans will still be attending games and demanding that the team wins. Some players still say they support Joe Paterno and only view the penalties as a “distraction.”

How are the penalties changing the mindset of those in State College? What has the NCAA done to help change the culture at Penn State? I don’t see a whole lot.

Penn State needed football stripped from them. They needed time to reevaluate the importance of football in their lives. They needed a sweeping change in mentality, and they need to understand why this is such a big deal. Having no football on campus for years would have accomplished that.

Because of the postseason bowl bans and the Big Ten refusing to share television revenue with Penn State, the university won’t profit off the program like it has in past years, but the support for the program won’t be much different. That’s where the NCAA missed an opportunity, but hey, they’re not in the business of ruining their business by canceling games, are they? Of course not, because money is important to them too, just like it was to the Penn Staters that decided protecting the cash cow was more important than protecting the kids.

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  • Gene

    I agree with you.  They need a cultural change at that school and the death penalty would have helped.  It also would have set an example so that other football crazed schools would never attempt a similar type of cover up of horrible crimes.

  • SpinMax

    Way to stick it to 80 innocent kids who will no longer get scholarships. Very few of those 80 would become pro football players, but a lot of those 80 would get some sort of education…well not now. 

  • http://larrybrownsports.com Larry Brown

    The victims were innocent kids and are the only victims, not the players who were part of this program. Some of the playrers still support Paterno indicating they don’t understand what happened. Those people deserve the punishment. And the rest get to transfer to another school without penalty. What’s the problem?

  • SpinMax

     Let em transfer, that’s still 80 less scholarships in college football. 80 high school kids who have a dream of getting a college scholarship, who won’t. Fine the program 100 million dollars instead of 60. Make every dollar they earn through the program the next 4 years go to charity. Scholarship elimination is always wrong as a punishment for any program IMHO. Coaches who cheat should get banned for years.

  • Kevin_Indianapolis

    I agree completely.  In fact, they’d be playing Flag Football to a crowd of family and friends if I was in charge.  Donkey basketball in December.

  • DocFrank

    Thank you Larry for being one of the few to put this into perspective.  I would add that in 2003 Penn State was 3-9 and home attendance was still on average 105,000 a game. So I agree there’s not much to suggest that fielding a losing team will do anything to the culture, if Penn State even does lose. It sort of disgusted me to see fans still surrounding Paterno’s statue before it was taken down. I mean this is a guy who in 1999 knowingly employed a child rapist because he was a good defensive coach. Where are people’s priorities?