Piling On?

Over the weekend, those who search for the path of righteousness, had their day in the sun.  Even Bob Costas, a well known and respected Sports Journalist/Announcer found the gall to speak out.  The target – Penn State.  The subject – the “death penalty” for PSU’s football program.

The story goes something like this.  Penn State’s senior leaders (Athletic Director, School’s Vice President, and the School’s President exchanged hand written notes that said they would not bring a child sexual assault allegation to police attention but try to handle it through other channels.  The alleged sexual assault had taken place in one of the football teams showers.  Accordingly, the righteous said, the school should self administer a one year hiatus from NCAA football, and if the school did not do this voluntarily, the NCAA should impose the ban.

To be very clear, the facts of this situation seem to be well documented.  The school’s top officials consciously chose not to report and to not thoroughly investigate the matter.  Criminal and civil charges lie ahead.  But why the case against the football team?

Even greater, how can an organization like the NCAA which auctions college football media rights for billions be considered responsible enough to take an ethical stand?

Recent reports have place Penn State’s football program as the third more valuable nationwide.  It produces annual revenues of $70 million with estimated profits of about $50 million.  I guess Penn State football is a pretty big target.

The nagging question for me is why pick on the football team and in the process upset the lives of so many innocent people?  Why not a fine?

The Jerry Sandusky case could have just as easily occurred in another part of the campus or involved no one in the sports department.  The decision to not go public would most likely have been the same.  The problem involved three administrators, a coach (Joe Paterno), and a do nothing Board.  Had it occurred in another part of campus, it would have been only the Administrators and the Board.

But it didn’t.  Jerry Sandusky had been a prominent football coach and a key element (along with Paterno) in the growth of Penn State football.  The football program is just too big a target to overlook.

When the grand jury charges were announced last fall, Paterno was relieved of his coaching duties immediately.  No hearing, no due process.  This was step one in the process to circle the wagons and contain the damage.  Dump the coach.

Subsequently, the AD, the VP, and the President have all been relieved, and Sandusky has been convicted of child abuse (multiple counts).  An internal Penn State investigation by former FBI Director, Louis Freeh, has confirmed the cover up and the involvement of the AD, VP, and President.  The Freeh report has also spotlighted a weak Board of Governors.

There will undoubtably be more indictments and a lot of civil suits.  Penn State is looking at probably well over $100 million in settlement costs.  There is a new football coach, new AD, new VP and a new President.  And soon maybe a completely new Board.

So why the football death penalty again?

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