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July 23, 2012 6:46 AM   Subscribe

Penn State Fined $60 Million, Paterno Wins Vacated Since 1998: For its attempts to cover up a serial child molester in its coaching ranks, the NCAA has hit Penn State with a $60 million sanction, a four-year football postseason ban, four-year loss of 10 scholarships, and the removal of all wins dating to 1998, taking away the late coach Joe Paterno's status as the winningest coach in college football's highest level. hat tip to Sportsfilter
posted by leotrotsky (439 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
Good. And the photo of Paterno's statue in a truck was satisfying to see, too.
posted by Forktine at 6:48 AM on July 23, 2012 [10 favorites]


Well, now I see what could be worse than a ten year ban.
posted by that's how you get ants at 6:49 AM on July 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Very good.
posted by carter at 6:51 AM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Damn. Daaaaaamn.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:51 AM on July 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Everything except the wins seems totally justified to me. I just can't deal with erasing history, it seems fundamentally wrong to me. It's the same reason I think Pete Rose should be in the hall of fame, and that no asterix should be affixed to Barry Bonds HR records.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:51 AM on July 23, 2012 [35 favorites]


To me or not to me?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:51 AM on July 23, 2012


The concept of taking away wins 14 years after the fact is weirdly orwellian to me, but okay.
posted by gauche at 6:52 AM on July 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


I would have preferred a ten year ban.

$60 million isn't even a full year of revenue, and losing the "winningest" title is weak symbolism.
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:52 AM on July 23, 2012 [28 favorites]


Well, considering that the four year postseason ban is likely to have been something this moribund program would achieve by itself, this is the equivalent of a 5 yard penalty for illegal procedure.

I guess they are leaving money in the coffers for civil litigation?
posted by three blind mice at 6:53 AM on July 23, 2012 [9 favorites]


@Potomac Avenue

What does Asterix The Gaul have to do with anything ?
posted by GallonOfAlan at 6:53 AM on July 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yeah, that $60 million fine totally makes up for the hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue that the university took in during this window, and will absolutely stop the endemic problem of universities letting their football programs run wild because they're enormous unregulated cashcows. Those vacated losses will surely drive the dagger into the business office's unrepentant heart.
posted by Mayor West at 6:53 AM on July 23, 2012 [15 favorites]


"With the wins from 1998-2011 vacated, Paterno drops from 409 wins to 298, dropping him from first to 12th on the winningest NCAA football coach list. "

Final line of article.

"Paterno won 409 games for the school in his 46 seasons as head coach."

Vacated wins are quite the collective fiction. They don't even hold up the length of one article. Nice to see some punishment beyond vacated wins.
posted by absalom at 6:53 AM on July 23, 2012 [49 favorites]


Big 10 sanctions yet to come, per local radio. We haven't seen everything yet.
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:54 AM on July 23, 2012


and the removal of all wins dating to 1998

Wait, what? Yes, by all means, smack Penn State down so hard that they can never play football again, but I'm not sure if I can get behind editing history. This isn't like steroids in baseball; the crimes didn't have a direct impact on the team's ability to win.

On preview, what Potomac Avenue said.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:54 AM on July 23, 2012 [11 favorites]


$60 million isn't even a full year of revenue

Let alone how much money the justified "death penalty" would have cost them.

This isn't quite a slap on the wrist. But it's in the neighborhood.
posted by Egg Shen at 6:54 AM on July 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


The concept of taking away wins 14 years after the fact is weirdly orwellian to me, but okay.

Except they might not have had those wins if the fuckers running the program had been in jail that whole time, where they belonged. Ill-gotten gains.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:55 AM on July 23, 2012 [34 favorites]


Yeah. The bit about vacating the wins seemed incredibly odd, and honestly unfair to the players. Maybe this is a gambit to make us mildly sympathetic toward them?

Personally, I'm still holding out hope that the Justice Department delivers a more harsh punishment regarding Clery Act violations. Though this is a severe penalty by the NCAA's criminally-lax standards, I honestly don't believe that it'll damage the program any more than an "off" season would.
posted by schmod at 6:56 AM on July 23, 2012


Can't say they didn't earn it.
posted by Artw at 6:57 AM on July 23, 2012


Mayor West: "Yeah, that $60 million fine totally makes up for the hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue that the university took in during this window, and will absolutely stop the endemic problem of universities letting their football programs run wild because they're enormous unregulated cashcows. Those vacated losses will surely drive the dagger into the business office's unrepentant heart."

From the article:
The NCAA said the $60 million was equivalent to the average annual revenue of the football program. The NCAA ordered Penn State to pay the penalty funds into an endowment for "external programs preventing child sexual abuse or assisting victims and may not be used to fund such programs at the university."
So is or isn't it equivalent to the revenue they took in?

Also, how will the vacated wins affect the records of the students who played in those games?
posted by zarq at 6:58 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


"With the wins from 1998-2011 vacated, Paterno drops from 409 wins to 298, dropping him from first to 12th on the winningest NCAA football coach list. "

Coach Bobby Bowden approves this message.
posted by Atreides at 6:58 AM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


What does Asterix The Gaul have to do with anything ?

Everything man. Everything. *dons tinfoil winged helmet*
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:01 AM on July 23, 2012 [15 favorites]


Does anyone have any real knowledge of how this all works w/r/t appeals and NCAA bylaws? I'm all in favor of the punishment (which is really, incredibly strong), but it seems like the NCAA might have overstepped their bounds and precedent in doing this.

Personally, I'm not even sure that I'm comfortable with the NCAA being in a position to get involved in what should really be legal and policy concerns.
posted by graphnerd at 7:01 AM on July 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Answering my own question:
In the fiscal year ending in 2011, Penn State’s athletic department generated $116.1 million in operating revenue and posted a $14.8 million operating profit, according to school records.

Of Penn State’s 29 sports teams, only football and men’s basketball were profitable last year, with football generating an operating profit of $43.8 million on $58.9 million in revenue. The Nittany Lions had a 9-4 record last season.

Shutdown Costs

A shutdown of the football program would have cost Penn State and the surrounding community more than $70 million, according to an economic study commissioned by the university for the 2008-09 school year. That included $51.1 million spent on hotels, souvenirs, food, services and entertainment by out- of-state visitors, which represent about 15 percent of those attending games at Beaver Stadium, which has a capacity of more than 106,500.

Penn State has an endowment of $1.3 billion, the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette reported in March, citing Graham Spanier, who was dismissed as university president in the scandal.

posted by zarq at 7:01 AM on July 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


If 8 of the other 11 Big 10 Presidents approve, Penn State could be kicked out of the Big 10.
posted by COD at 7:02 AM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


The postseason ban and the scholarship restrictions essentially prevent the program from fielding a team that can be competitive in the Big Ten. The N.C.A.A. will also allow Penn State players to transfer to another university, where they can play immediately, inviting the possibility of a mass exodus. Penn State will lose 10 initial scholarships and 20 total scholarships each year for a four-year period.
This does not seem like a slap on the wrist to me. It sounds like they won't be able to recruit for four years. Plus the statue down, civil and possibly more criminal penalties coming, it seems like sine semblance of justice is finally being served.
posted by gwint at 7:04 AM on July 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


Yeah, that $60 million fine totally makes up for the hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue that the university took in during this window,

You fine them too much, they just drop all the sports programs, and say fuck you to the NCAA.
posted by smackfu at 7:04 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


The vacating wins thing is an NCAA thing - they always do that as part of any punishment. The most meaningful things are the scholarship reductions - which are both long in tenor and large in quantity - they are basically a I-AA program for the next 7-8 years, and the ruling that allows any athlete bound to the program to transfer without penalty and immediate eligibility or quit the team and keep their scholly is huge. I saw someone calling it the Coma penalty. Other than the fact that they are playing football next year these penalties are the harshest the NCAA has ever meted out. Now, the probably aren't harsh enough, but by historic standards its quite harsh.
posted by JPD at 7:05 AM on July 23, 2012 [11 favorites]


*some
posted by gwint at 7:05 AM on July 23, 2012


I was really hoping the school would take the option of simply turning the statue so Paterno was looking the other way.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:05 AM on July 23, 2012 [59 favorites]


I agree that banning Penn State from playing collage football for 10 years sounds more appropriate, maybe ask for the $60 M fine as well.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:06 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


The fines are good. Statue removal... no problem with that. The attempted re-write of history is idiotic.
posted by prepmonkey at 7:06 AM on July 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


You fine them too much, they just drop all the sports programs, and say fuck you to the NCAA.

Interestingly one of the terms of the penalty is that while they didn't mandate the money come directly from the program, they did say Penn State has to agree not to reduce funding to non-revenue sports as part of penalty.
posted by JPD at 7:06 AM on July 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Plus the statue down

The family responds:

... selective evidence and the opinion of Mr Freeh is treated as the equivalent of a fair trial. Despite this obviously flawed and one-sided presentation, the University believes it must acquiesce and accept that Joe Paterno has been given a fair and complete hearing. We think the better course would have been for the University to take a strong stand in support of due process so that the complete truth can be uncovered.
posted by Egg Shen at 7:06 AM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


This means at least a decade of irrelevance for PSU football. I was gunning for a 5-year ban but I actually think this might be better.

Even amoral cartels are occasionally capable of good decisions. Thanks, NCAA!
posted by downing street memo at 7:06 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


What does Asterix The Gaul have to do with anything ?
posted by GallonOfAlan at 6:53 AM on July 23 [+] [!]


You've got gall, coming in here and punning up the place, when we're trying to be serious about sports.
posted by resurrexit at 7:07 AM on July 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


OK, as a non-sports person I have to ask: does "vacating" wins mean they are retroactively erased from history? None of them count anymore?
posted by mediated self at 7:08 AM on July 23, 2012


The removal of the team's wins gives the NCAA a way to erase Paterno's name from their record books.
posted by rocket88 at 7:08 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Looks like Wikipedia members have been tackling the vacated wins issue.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:08 AM on July 23, 2012


// The attempted re-write of history is idiotic.//


Penn State did what they did in pursuit of victories. Telling them they don't get the victories doesn't seem completely out of line. Yeah, it kind of silly and symbolic, but it is also SOP for the NCAA to vacate victories.
posted by COD at 7:09 AM on July 23, 2012 [16 favorites]


does "vacating" wins mean they are retroactively erased from history? None of them count anymore?

yes.
posted by JPD at 7:09 AM on July 23, 2012


mediated, correct.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:09 AM on July 23, 2012


Hey, the NCAA actually has a page on this: The Theory and Practice of Vacating Games
posted by smackfu at 7:09 AM on July 23, 2012 [22 favorites]


the crimes didn't have a direct impact on the team's ability to win.


I think they did. Hiding the sexual abuse kept huge amounts of money flowing into the school and the football program. It also kept top recruits committing to PSU. A sexual abuse scandal changes both these things.
posted by unreasonable at 7:09 AM on July 23, 2012 [15 favorites]


You do have to feel some sympathy for the kids already in the football program. It's pretty late for anyone other than the top talents to be able to transfer to another program this year.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:10 AM on July 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


... selective evidence and the opinion of Mr Freeh is treated as the equivalent of a fair trial. Despite this obviously flawed and one-sided presentation, the University believes it must acquiesce and accept that Joe Paterno has been given a fair and complete hearing. We think the better course would have been for the University to take a strong stand in support of due process so that the complete truth can be uncovered.

Wow, talk about not getting it.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:10 AM on July 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


The revoked wins were fraudulent - they were cheating. The moment Paterno engaged in conspiracy to cover up the crime, he had committed an act that would make him ineligible as coach. This isn't speculative, it's documented in the Freeh Report that Paterno did something that would have gotten him the boot had anyone outside the conspiracy known about it.

The NCAA acknowledged that Paterno's behavior was unacceptable for a college coach, and following from that is the logical step of revoking the wins. This doesn't make the opposing teams the winner or "change history", it simply notes that the win was obtained fraudulently, and therefore invalid.

It's a good decision.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:11 AM on July 23, 2012 [81 favorites]


If the victories are vacated against a team that also had victories vacated (say a Penn State vs. Ohio State game in the last few years) DID THE GAME ACTUALLY EVER TAKE PLACE AT ALL?

(mind, blown)
posted by jscalzi at 7:11 AM on July 23, 2012 [71 favorites]


For those worrying about editing history: Think of it as him having been discovered cheating. They aren't real wins if you commit a crime to retain some of your tools. If anything, since Sandusky was found guilty back to 1994, they should have vacated back that far.

But all in all, I think it's all great. Hit Penn State with something they understand. Money and football. Shaming their human decency obviously didn't work.
posted by DU at 7:11 AM on July 23, 2012 [13 favorites]


Actually, that NCAA page is a blog post and not that clear. So if Penn State beat some other team 56-17, and has 10 wins and the other team has 5, what are those numbers after vacating the win?
posted by smackfu at 7:11 AM on July 23, 2012


//It's pretty late for anyone other than the top talents to be able to transfer to another program this year.//

Not really. The back-ups at Penn State can all start for any Div 1-AA or Div II team.
posted by COD at 7:12 AM on July 23, 2012


The Paterno family would've been wise to remain quiet these last couple of weeks. Their defensiveness has demonstrated a total lack of perspective. When the statue was removed they released a statement saying "this doesn't help the victims," but they refuse to acknowledge that neither did JoePa.
posted by mediated self at 7:14 AM on July 23, 2012 [46 favorites]


Also, "unfair to the teams and fans" is kind of stupid too. It's like the old "businesses are in the business of making money" defense of immoral/unethical business behavior.

Pay attention to more than one variable. There's more to life than winning. There's also doing the right thing. Make sure your sports team is doing both.
posted by DU at 7:14 AM on July 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


The scholarship thing is going to affect PSU's program for much more than four years. It's going to have repercussions for a long time hence.

In 2017, what skilled high school graduate is going to want to play for a school without a worthwhile bench? Slippery Rock will look better than that. It's going to be incredibly difficult and expensive for Penn State to rebuild its program.

If only the old man could have lived to see this day.
posted by ardgedee at 7:14 AM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


what are those numbers after vacating the win? For PSU players the game never happened but the statistics remain (unless they specifically were the reason for the game being vacated, which doesn't apply in this case), for the opponents the loss no longer occured, but the stats remain.
posted by JPD at 7:14 AM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


To me, the penalty needed to accomplish two things:

1) Punitive "justice" (not that I think that any penalty could bring the victims justice) for their inhumane and indefensible choices. I want to say proportional, but I don't really think you can talk about proportion when so many people's lives have been destroyed.

2) To obliterate the culture at Penn State that put football wins and Paterno's iconic status ahead of even one child's life and health. My feeling was that the only way you could do that would be to kill football at Penn State until everyone who was a part of that culture, from students to Administration was gone from the place. The students who shamed themselves by rioting when Paterno was fired needed to have the vileness of the situation made clear to them just like the Administration. And then you start fresh with the proper perspective.

I heard one quote somewhere that if given the choice between this and the death penalty, they probably would have taken the death penalty. So its obviously strong punishment. By NCAA standards, it probably satisfies the first condition. But the second, I guess we'll have to wait and see.
posted by dry white toast at 7:15 AM on July 23, 2012 [11 favorites]


Anything short of a multi-year death penalty by the NCAA was a cop-out. This is a cop-out.
posted by mcstayinskool at 7:15 AM on July 23, 2012 [13 favorites]


In addition, they should replace the statue with one where Joe Pa is bent over and has the inscription "Kick Me."
posted by digsrus at 7:17 AM on July 23, 2012


How much did the NCAA get fined? How many years is football itself cancelled?

Oh, I see. So, they aren't really serious, are they. As if anyone thought they were.
posted by Goofyy at 7:17 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Question... is there any indication that private donors could "replace" the lost scholarship money?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:18 AM on July 23, 2012


I'm really really glad all this is going down during summer. Can you imagine what that campus would look like this week if the campus were choked with inebriated undergrads?
posted by BrashTech at 7:19 AM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


$60 million is pretty significant, once you take into consideration tht football carries the rest of the sports in the athletic department. Your typical softball or track program operates at a deep loss, which it can do because of huge football revenues. Plus, the school still has to worry about federal fines, possible punishment from the Big Ten, and most of all the coming lawsuits. There's also a lot of lost revenue coming, because they aren't going to get 107,000 every week to watch the hollowed out shell of a football program over the next several years.

This is probably about the most the NCAA could do on its own. I agree that what happened there should cost a lot more than $60 million. I'm also pretty sure that it will.
posted by azpenguin at 7:19 AM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


They'll probably still sell out the stadium, because if Penn State is like most schools, you need to buy your season tickets every year or you lose your status. And the alumni still don't think Joe Pa did anything really very wrong. Just one bad egg. So they will end up playing terrible football in front of a full house. If they were smart, they would cut football costs to the bone for 4-6 years, build up a huge warchest, and then come up swinging after the penalty is up.
posted by smackfu at 7:19 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've been googling, but I keep finding articles related to this. What exactly is a postseason ban?
posted by Karmeliet at 7:19 AM on July 23, 2012


Anything short of a multi-year death penalty by the NCAA was a cop-out. This is a cop-out.

I understand this sentiment but it's actually a lot worse. The recruiting ban (plus the hit to the school's image) means it won't be an important football school for at least the next decade.

If the goal is the reform of the institution, this is as likely as anything to do the trick.
posted by downing street memo at 7:19 AM on July 23, 2012 [9 favorites]


"You do have to feel some sympathy for the kids already in the football program."

Actually, no - not a bit. Hasn't this whole thread tended toward the idea that 'the football culture overrode every moral consideration.' These 'kids' and their rabid fans are the ones who bought into, support, and benefit from this broken culture more than anyone else.

Does any one seriously believe that every major college football program is not doing this to some degree in support of their culture? (breaking laws and NCAA rules, then protecting the program/coaches/players - not covering up molestation)

It's how the system is designed.
posted by j_curiouser at 7:19 AM on July 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


mcstayinskool: "Anything short of a multi-year death penalty by the NCAA was a cop-out. This is a cop-out."

My understanding (and I could be wrong,) is that according to NCAA rules the death penalty could only be imposed if the program violated sanctions that were already in place. This wouldn't qualify.
posted by zarq at 7:20 AM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've been googling, but I keep finding articles related to this. What exactly is a postseason ban?

They won't be allowed to play in bowl games regardless of their record. Bowl games are a major source of revenue for football programs.
posted by downing street memo at 7:20 AM on July 23, 2012


Karmeliet: "I've been googling, but I keep finding articles related to this. What exactly is a postseason ban?"

It means they are barred from playing in any bowl games. So even if they make the post-season they couldn't play.
posted by zarq at 7:21 AM on July 23, 2012


I don't know what the NCAA is trying to say, but to me vacating the wins from 1998 to 2011, the duration of the coverup, says the program was irredeemably corrupt during that time period and not operating as a football program ought to. Therefore the program should not get the benefit of official NCAA victories.

I don't see it as rewriting history, just saying the wins don't count for NCAA purposes. No more than a friendly scrimmage. I actually love it.
posted by Danila at 7:21 AM on July 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


Question... is there any indication that private donors could "replace" the lost scholarship money?
Would be a major violation and make the actual suspension of the program a near certainty.
posted by JPD at 7:22 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Question... is there any indication that private donors could "replace" the lost scholarship money?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:18 AM on 7/23
[+] [!]


No. That's under the category of impermissible benefits. If they tried a stunt like that -especially while the school is under probation - then the death penalty would likely be handed down.
posted by azpenguin at 7:22 AM on July 23, 2012


*shakes tiny fist at JPD*
posted by azpenguin at 7:22 AM on July 23, 2012


Anything short of a multi-year death penalty by the NCAA was a cop-out. This is a cop-out.

Preach it.
posted by j_curiouser at 7:23 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


NCAA's treatment of Paterno is a total outrage. Any of these instances need be viewed in legal and historical context. There was no legal obligation to contact the police. In Syracuse where the police were contacted the police did nothing because it occured before the public demanded for sexual witch hunts. We are at the point where were as the War on Drugs begain. Will society jail another 1 in 32 US citizens? Most of the perputrators of sex crimes are near peers - Romeo and Juliet. Yet we are giving many of these kids will have lifetime registration and job impacts. In Bernie Fines case his wife said he was gay. She should know. Sandusky was a recruiter
posted by Jondo at 7:23 AM on July 23, 2012


I understand this sentiment but it's actually a lot worse. The recruiting ban (plus the hit to the school's image) means it won't be an important football school for at least the next decade.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but how on earth could that be worse than NOT HAVING A FOOTBALL PROGRAM AT ALL. A decade recruiting ban vs. a 5 year death penalty? I think the latter wins hands down for strength of punishment.
posted by mcstayinskool at 7:24 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I agree with Slap*Happy on this. If you get caught breaking the rules, you forfeit the game. If you get caught breaking the rules retroactively, you forfeit retroactively.

Question... is there any indication that private donors could "replace" the lost scholarship money?

Not legally. Financial incentives to student athletes are supposed to be regulated.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 7:24 AM on July 23, 2012


Question... is there any indication that private donors could "replace" the lost scholarship money?

I was wondering the same thing. I'm sure there are some workarounds with regards to scholarships that the school could cook up.

They could change their own policy and start giving football players academic or need-based scholarships and things like that. But would Penn State be bold enough to do that?
posted by mcmile at 7:25 AM on July 23, 2012


@Jondo: WHAT?

No, seriously... what? I can't make out your argument at all, other than the NCAA did something wrong.
posted by papercake at 7:25 AM on July 23, 2012 [29 favorites]


In the video he also says that (loosely quoting): Any football student athlete who wants to remain at Penn State may retain his athletic grant and aid as long as he maintains academic requirements, regardless of whether he competes on the football team.

I found that interesting, and wonder if it's something any current players would make use of. It does give some alternative to trying to scramble to go somewhere else vs. playing for a team you might not want to play for anymore.
posted by bizzyb at 7:26 AM on July 23, 2012


how on earth could that be worse than NOT HAVING A FOOTBALL PROGRAM AT ALL

Forcing them to play bad football for 5 or 10 years hurts the program's legacy and makes them a lower quality team. Just having to sit out for a few years because of "unfair" NCAA sanctions is more temporary, because you come back strong and everyone remembers you are a winner who just got a bad break.
posted by smackfu at 7:26 AM on July 23, 2012 [14 favorites]


Anything short of a multi-year death penalty by the NCAA was a cop-out. This is a cop-out.

The scholarship removal is actually huge. While they didn't take the PSU football program out behind the barn and shoot it, they did take a sledgehammer to its kneecaps. It will be limping for a long time.
posted by dortmunder at 7:26 AM on July 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


I've been googling, but I keep finding articles related to this. What exactly is a postseason ban?
posted by Karmeliet at 8:19 AM on 7/23
[+] [!]

No bowl games for four years. In other words, you play for nothing. Let's say a player has a choice between a school where they have a shot to play for the national title, or at least a major bowl, and Penn State. That choice is a no brainer This should give an idea of how hard it will be for PSU to field a competitive program for the next several years.
posted by azpenguin at 7:26 AM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


How much did the NCAA get fined? How many years is football itself cancelled?

Oh, I see. So, they aren't really serious, are they. As if anyone thought they were.


What the hell are you going on about exactly?
posted by xbonesgt at 7:26 AM on July 23, 2012 [12 favorites]


NCAA's treatment of Paterno is a total outrage. Any of these instances need be viewed in legal and historical context. There was no legal obligation to contact the police.

what
posted by Mayor West at 7:26 AM on July 23, 2012 [20 favorites]


Penn State should consider a self imposed protest exit from all NCAA sanctioned atheletics.
posted by Jondo at 7:27 AM on July 23, 2012


To me, the NCAA should be focusing on fixing the culture of football at Penn State as that was what really allowed Sandusky to continue to operate all those years. I don't see how a postseason ban accomplishes this at all. I think the death penalty would have been much more appropriate toward accomplishing this goal. Even SMU got it for RECRUITING. We're talking here about a wholesale failure of personal integrity that resulted in these terrible crimes.

I also don't see how taking down Paterno's statue fulfills this goal. It just seemed reactionary to me. I fully agree with the Freeh report that Joe had a hand in the cover up, but how does taking down his statue fix the culture at the school that allowed it all to happen?
posted by Leezie at 7:27 AM on July 23, 2012


selective evidence and the opinion of Mr Freeh is treated as the equivalent of a fair trial...yada yada yada...

Time for the Paterno family to start their own religion. They seem to have all the prerequisites.
posted by incandissonance at 7:27 AM on July 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Correct me if I'm wrong, but how on earth could that be worse than NOT HAVING A FOOTBALL PROGRAM AT ALL. A decade recruiting ban vs. a 5 year death penalty? I think the latter wins hands down for strength of punishment.

It's functionally the same thing. The existence of a football program didn't cover up Sandusky's crimes, the importance of that football program did.

I see no problem with letting PSU have a football program, especially since there are actual football players there getting ready for a season who had nothing to do with any of this stuff. But the program should be doomed to irrelevance because its importance to the school and the country caused this shit in the first place. This accomplishes that goal.
posted by downing street memo at 7:28 AM on July 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


It would be nice to see, say, religious institutions treating this sort of thing with the same degree of seriousness.
posted by Artw at 7:28 AM on July 23, 2012 [31 favorites]


Mayor West
What year was that law passed?
posted by Jondo at 7:29 AM on July 23, 2012


Time for the Paterno family to start their own religion. They seem to have all the prerequisites.

Denial of reality, unshakeable faith in a figure ascribed perfect morality and divine authority and protection of child molesters? Give these people a tax exemption!
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:29 AM on July 23, 2012 [19 favorites]


The NCAA is taking unprecedented measures with the decision to penalize Penn State without the due process of a Committee on Infractions hearing. The NCAA has a system in place in which it conducts its own investigations, issues a notice of allegations and then allows the university 90 days to respond before a hearing is scheduled.

Following the hearing, the Infractions Committee then usually takes a minimum of six weeks, but it can take upwards of a year to issue its findings. But in the case of Penn State, the NCAA appears to be using the Freeh report -- commissioned by the school's board of trustees -- instead of its own investigation, before handing down sanctions.

"Unbelievable," said a Penn State trustee informed of the NCAA statement, speaking to ESPN.com senior writer Don Van Natta Jr. "Unbelievable, unbelievable."

The Penn State trustees' hope that the statue's removal might send a positive message was trumped by the NCAA, which had already decided.

"Emmert has been given full reign by the pansy presidents (at other universities) to make his own decision," said the trustee, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "He has been given the authority to impose these unprecedented sanctions. It's horrible."
Dear Mr. (or Ms.) Anonymous Trustee:

Your football coach raped multiple children he was in charge of in the locker room of your football program. Your other coaches knew, and made a conscious choice not to report him.

For years.

Perhaps you should recalibrate your definition of "horrible."

Z
posted by zarq at 7:29 AM on July 23, 2012 [55 favorites]


I'm kind of delightfully surprised that the NCAA met my expectations so far in their response.
posted by Theta States at 7:29 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


My understanding (and I could be wrong,) is that according to NCAA rules the death penalty could only be imposed if the program violated sanctions that were already in place.

According to Wikipedia:

[The NCAA] also still has the power to ban a school from competing in a sport without any preliminaries in cases of particularly egregious violations. However, the "repeat violator" rule gave the Infractions Committees of the various NCAA divisions specific instances where they must either bar a school from competing or explain why they did not.

As best I can tell, neither the University of Kentucky nor University of Southwestern Louisiana basketball death penalties involved pre-existing sanctions.
posted by Egg Shen at 7:29 AM on July 23, 2012


I think the statue came down in anticipation of potential problems after the NCAA dropped he hammer today. They took the statue down to protect it.
posted by COD at 7:30 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


" losing the "winningest" title is weak symbolism."

Considering that Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno stayed on at their schools long, long after they stopped being effective coaches (Bowden, in particular, was a figurehead at the end) *JUST* to get that particular title, I don't think it's weak at all. That title meant an incredible amount to Joe Paterno, it was literally his bid for an unbreakable record. This penalty makes it so that his legacy is nothing but a cover up of a rapist.
posted by oddman at 7:30 AM on July 23, 2012 [10 favorites]


Egg Shen, thanks for the clarification!
posted by zarq at 7:30 AM on July 23, 2012


There will never be a perfect solution as to what is an appropriate penalty for the University.

However, in comparison to a previously stellar record, repudiation of that record by erasing a bunch of numbers on it, it will always bring up the fact that a lot of young children were abused and people who should have been protecting them, were in fact the abusers. It serves to keep the idea in people's mind to be more vigilant in the future to recognize that this type of thing happens and should be fought against.

Pulling down a statue, levying a fine and erasing a football record means nothing on its face. However, the memory of why it happened may make for a better future even though the penalty is imperfect and can never replace a lost boy's innocence.
posted by lampshade at 7:31 AM on July 23, 2012


it's documented in the Freeh Report that Paterno did something that would have gotten him the boot had anyone outside the conspiracy known about it

What specific part of the report are you referring to? I read most of it and they had less of a smoking gun on Paterno as they did with the rest of the people involved (Spanier, Curly, and Shultz).
posted by burnmp3s at 7:32 AM on July 23, 2012



Time for the Paterno family to start their own religion.


In many many many ways this scandal has a lot more in common with a cult of personality unraveling than it does with the scandals at Kentucky, Oklahoma, Alabama, and SMU. That is sort of what makes this all very weird/different from a punishment perspective.

This was not about the culture of big time football (which is fucked up, don't get me wrong), its about the cult of Paterno at PSU. There is a difference.
posted by JPD at 7:32 AM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]



NCAA's treatment of Paterno is a total outrage. Any of these instances need be viewed in legal and historical context. There was no legal obligation to contact the police.



On the one hand, JoePa has his friend raping boys in the shower stalls at work.

On the other hand, He's not strictly required to tell anyone....


You really think letting boys get raped is the reasonable course ? This is a level of stupid I am not prepared to encounter today.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:33 AM on July 23, 2012 [37 favorites]


These arguments for the vacating of games are pretty convincing, and I see that it's regular practice in the NCAA from that blog post, so there you go! Harsh but fair penalty. Now, as others said, the NCAA should be fined by the federal government.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:33 AM on July 23, 2012


I'm really really glad all this is going down during summer. Can you imagine what that campus would look like this week if the campus were choked with inebriated undergrads?

Me too, but I tellya, next fall if I see one more appalling Hitler Youth-ian "We Wuv Our JoePa, Boo Hoo Hoo" rally on TV, I'll be (figuratively) ready to grab my torch and pitchfork and head for the Happy Fucking Valley.
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:33 AM on July 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


Serious question: do the opposing teams/coaches now gain those vacated wins?
posted by swift at 7:33 AM on July 23, 2012


Serious question: do the opposing teams/coaches now gain those vacated wins?

no, but they no longer have the losses
posted by JPD at 7:34 AM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm curious as to how other students would treat a player who decided not to compete but continued to attend on a football scholarship in order to pursue a degree.
posted by MikeMc at 7:35 AM on July 23, 2012


Hopefully with some respect for his priorities.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:36 AM on July 23, 2012 [12 favorites]


I also don't see how taking down Paterno's statue fulfills this goal. It just seemed reactionary to me.

(1) I believe that, in part, the statue came down to protect it from vandalizers.
(2) The statue can be a painful reminder to victims and their families, as well as other victims of sexual abuse, that our culture cares more about the legacy of the Paternos of the world than it does about the victims he failed to protect.

I read most of it and they had less of a smoking gun on Paterno as they did with the rest of the people involved (Spanier, Curly, and Shultz).

Didn't Shultz or Curly go into a meeting with Paterno thinking that they would report Sandusky (as was legally required), and come out of that meeting agreeing that the evidence wasn't damning? Didn't Paterno fight hard for an unusual retirement package for Sandusky, even after the first shower incident? It may not be a smoking gun, but there's certainly incriminating DNA.
posted by muddgirl at 7:36 AM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


To me, the NCAA should be focusing on fixing the culture of football at Penn State as that was what really allowed Sandusky to continue to operate all those years. I don't see how a postseason ban accomplishes this at all. I think the death penalty would have been much more appropriate toward accomplishing this goal. Even SMU got it for RECRUITING. We're talking here about a wholesale failure of personal integrity that resulted in these terrible crimes.

This will be changing the culture of football at PSU. Penn State fans are used to their team competing for national titles. You know those schools that big schools schedule for an easy win and a guaranteed bunch of ticket sales? Penn State just became one of those schools. The program is going to be a walking corpse for years.

More importantly, this is less about Penn State than it is about sending a message to the rest of the NCAA programs. Penn State still has college football, but it's no longer big time.
posted by azpenguin at 7:37 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


School to be renamed Omelas University.
posted by Legomancer at 7:38 AM on July 23, 2012 [26 favorites]


People in the ESPN article comments section are saying Big 10 sanctions to be announced at 11 AM EST...
posted by Theta States at 7:38 AM on July 23, 2012


I'm loving the Joe Paterno lulz, btw.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:39 AM on July 23, 2012


//I'm curious as to how other students would treat a player who decided not to compete but continued to attend on a football scholarship in order to pursue a degree.//

Other than the few big stars on a college football team, most of them are not that recognizable. If the 3rd string DB quits to focus on his degree, I doubt more than a handful of other students would notice, or care.
posted by COD at 7:39 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


... selective evidence and the opinion of Mr Freeh is treated as the equivalent of a fair trial... yada..yada.yada....

Perhaps the Paterno family should start their own religion they seem to have all the prerequisites.

(or maybe they already have?)
posted by incandissonance at 7:39 AM on July 23, 2012


I'm curious as to how other students would treat a player who decided not to compete but continued to attend on a football scholarship in order to pursue a degree.

anybody who cares enough about football to have an opinion on this I think recognizes how hard being a depth scholarship guy in a D-1 program is. If you realize the league isn't an option and you aren't on path to see major playing time the idea of quitting and keeping your scholly is incredibly appealing I'd think, and most of your classmates would realize that. I'm sure you'd find 1 asshole in a thousand tho.
posted by JPD at 7:39 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


While we're at it, can we please vacate "winningest" from our lexicon of acceptable vocabulary?
posted by schmod at 7:41 AM on July 23, 2012 [19 favorites]


There was no legal obligation to contact the police.

I'm not familiar with duty of care/to report laws that Penn State operates under, but for the moment, let's say you're correct.

What about an ethical or a moral obligation to report? Because if someone's ethical and moral code is so fucked up that they think having a winning football program is more important than children being sexually abused, then I don't even know where to begin.

I'd be tempted to burn everything - program, stadium, records - to the ground, but that would just be fuel for the martyrdom fire for the people who are that confused.
posted by never used baby shoes at 7:41 AM on July 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


Especially if you're staring down the possibility of losing that scholarship if you stay with the team, because now they have to cut ten.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:41 AM on July 23, 2012


NCAA's treatment of Paterno is a total outrage. Any of these instances need be viewed in legal and historical context. There was no legal obligation to contact the police.

Am I reading this sentence correctly? Please tell me that it doesn't say what I think it says. At the base level I think it says football is more important than child rape but that just can't be right because surely no one would ever say such a thing. Right?
posted by Ululator at 7:42 AM on July 23, 2012 [25 favorites]


I've been assuming that post is parody, just running through all the boilerplate "defenses" the Penn State crowds and Paterno's family have given.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:43 AM on July 23, 2012


Jondo: " We are at the point where were as the War on Drugs begain. Will society jail another 1 in 32 US citizens? Most of the perputrators of sex crimes are near peers - Romeo and Juliet. Yet we are giving many of these kids will have lifetime registration and job impacts. In Bernie Fines case his wife said he was gay. She should know. Sandusky was a recruiter"

We treat rape as a serious crime because it is one.

We treat rape of a child by an adult seriously because it is destructive and severely damaging to the victims.

And yes, any coach who turns a blind eye while a student is being raped by his coworker in his locker room deserves to be punished. Paterno didn't just turn a blind eye. He covered for Sandusky, the rapist. The victims -- the children under Paterno's care -- deserved far, far better from him than that.
posted by zarq at 7:44 AM on July 23, 2012 [19 favorites]


Gambling State is certainly happy with the penalty.
posted by TedW at 7:45 AM on July 23, 2012


NCAA's treatment of Paterno is a total outrage. Any of these instances need be viewed in legal and historical context. There was no legal obligation to contact the police. In Syracuse where the police were contacted the police did nothing because it occured before the public demanded for sexual witch hunts. We are at the point where were as the War on Drugs begain. Will society jail another 1 in 32 US citizens? Most of the perputrators of sex crimes are near peers - Romeo and Juliet. Yet we are giving many of these kids will have lifetime registration and job impacts. In Bernie Fines case his wife said he was gay. She should know. Sandusky was a recruiter

This is both barely coherent and utterly enraging.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 7:47 AM on July 23, 2012 [26 favorites]


Oh, I see. So, they aren't really serious, are they. As if anyone thought they were.

I thought this initially too, but actually it's pretty serious. When you look at the recruiting ban, the scholarship limitations and the ability of current players to quit and keep their scholarships or transfer without penalty to another school, this is in some ways worse than the death penalty. This means at least a decade of irrelevance for PSU football. Multiple seasons of bad football is going to hurt the program more than several seasons of no football.
posted by spaltavian at 7:47 AM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


never used baby shoes: "fuel for the martyrdom fire for the people who are that confused."

That's why I'm really glad this was the penalty rather than the so-called death penalty. Because it prevents Penn State from having some great "comeback" after being gone for x number of years. Keeping the program alive means that they are still part of the conversation.

And that's why vacating the wins aren't re-writing history. They are, to the best of the ability of the NCAA, righting history. The program could have been damaged from 1998 until 2012 if this scandal had come out. Now it definitely is.

Changing the record books isn't going to help any of the victims, but unfortunately nothing can do that.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:48 AM on July 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


There was no legal obligation to contact the police.

Well then, I guess that makes it all OK. Problem solved!
posted by zombieflanders at 7:49 AM on July 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm with dry white toast. What was necessary was:

To obliterate the culture at Penn State that put football wins and Paterno's iconic status ahead of even one child's life and health... to kill football at Penn State until everyone who was a part of that culture, from students to Administration was gone from the place.

I don't want to hear about how uncompetitive the teams are going to be. I want the NCAA's position to reflect that, for at least the mid-term future, "Penn State football" is too odious a concept to recognize.
posted by Egg Shen at 7:50 AM on July 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


This is both barely coherent and utterly enraging.

That's overgenerous of you. It's utterly incoherent.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 7:51 AM on July 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


I don't want to hear about how uncompetitive the teams are going to be. I want the NCAA's position to reflect that, for at least the mid-term future, "Penn State football" is too odious a concept to recognize.

While that would be viscerally satisfying (and I personally still favor an actual death penalty for the program, not a suspension), mediocre football is more likely to kill the all-consuming reverence of the program than a few years of no football.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:52 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not good enough. Anything less than a death penalty for the football program is unacceptable. The NCAA had a chance to send a powerful message and balked. The message they ended up sending was that they'll attempt to appease the public but at the end of the day, football is just too profitable.
posted by pecanpies at 7:53 AM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Maybe if we could all let Jondo's post lie where it fell that would be nice.
posted by boo_radley at 7:53 AM on July 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


Didn't Shultz or Curly go into a meeting with Paterno thinking that they would report Sandusky (as was legally required), and come out of that meeting agreeing that the evidence wasn't damning? Didn't Paterno fight hard for an unusual retirement package for Sandusky, even after the first shower incident? It may not be a smoking gun, but there's certainly incriminating DNA.

I think there is a lot of circumstantial evidence that Paterno did protect Sandusky and influenced those decisions, so I agree with you that there's enough evidence for me to think that he was instrumental in the coverup. But Slap*Happy said that the report definitively showed that Paterno did something that would have gotten him fired, which I don't remember being said in the report. It was a long report though and I didn't read every single page of it so I might have missed it though, which is why I asked for clarification. The closest thing I can think of is the Clery Act compliance, but the report itself is not really clear on whether or not Paterno's report to the higher-ups was enough (since Shultz was technically the head of the University Police which is legally responsible for law enforcement on the campus).
posted by burnmp3s at 7:53 AM on July 23, 2012


mediocre football is more likely to kill the all-consuming reverence of the program than a few years of no football.

You're ignoring the fact that Penn State football WAS mediocre throughout most the last decade of Paterno's career. It didn't stop the rioting (when the won AND when they lost) and it certainly didn't stop the revenue.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:54 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


With this penalty, Navy and Temple and probably going to beat Penn State and they'll lose homecoming.

That's much harsher than not playing those games at all.
posted by smackfu at 7:54 AM on July 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


The NCAA had a chance to send a powerful message and balked.

Eh, I don't think these sanctions really matter message-wise at all. People who are doing wrong think they can't get caught.
posted by smackfu at 7:55 AM on July 23, 2012


i asked this in the Freeh report thread but figured i'd ask over here since this obviously more active.

a friend of mine asked me: seems to me that from the freeh report, the only thing implicating joe in the coverup was a couple emails to the president, which didn't even include joe. is that right?

i haven't had time to read it. is this true? my understanding was that joe knew about the 1998 incident in 1998 when the investigation was happening and then in 2001 when mcquery came to him, he still didn't do anything beyond tell spanier (altho on preview i now see that should curley). was that considered the reporting that needs to happen when someone witnesses child abuse in PA?

not saying that was enough or excusing anything (because it doesn't), just wondering.
posted by sio42 at 7:56 AM on July 23, 2012


jscalzi:If the victories are vacated against a team that also had victories vacated (say a Penn State vs. Ohio State game in the last few years) DID THE GAME ACTUALLY EVER TAKE PLACE AT ALL?

Right now, Penn State players are fading out of the photographs of those games, just like Marty McFly's family snapshot.
posted by dr_dank at 7:57 AM on July 23, 2012 [10 favorites]


Punishing the players and the fans, who did nothing wrong? Seriously? This is kind of bullshit.
posted by moammargaret at 7:59 AM on July 23, 2012


If the object is to kill the worship for football in general and Paterno specifically in the Penn State area, nothing can accomplish that. You're talking about multiple generations of people whose entire lives have revolved around this shit, like it's in the damn groundwater.

It's like virulent racism -- you can't bludgeon it out of people, but you sure as hell can shun and shame them and make it socially unacceptable to express those sentiments.
posted by FelliniBlank at 8:00 AM on July 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


Punishing the players and the fans, who did nothing wrong? Seriously? This is kind of bullshit.

Once again sympathy is misplaced.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:01 AM on July 23, 2012 [28 favorites]


I have some former Penn State undergrads as Facebook friends. Here's what they're saying:

"We only won like 5 games from 2000-2005 so whatever."

"Joe should have retired a long time ago anyways. He held the program back."

"everyone here can agree the game changed and he didnt."

"Recruiting really suffered as well. He couldn't land the biggest names. Going forward I am excited about the future :)"

It seems to me that this was not a serious enough penalty if that's the reaction from fans.
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:01 AM on July 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


Leezie: I also don't see how taking down Paterno's statue fulfills this goal. It just seemed reactionary to me.

I don't know. The Paterno statue, especially since it was erected in life, struck me as being more about branding than history. More along the lines of images of Walt and Colonel Sanders.

never used baby shoes: What about an ethical or a moral obligation to report? Because if someone's ethical and moral code is so fucked up that they think having a winning football program is more important than children being sexually abused, then I don't even know where to begin.

Beyond just failing to report a crime against a minor, Penn State as an institution continued to give Sandusky VIP access and support that Sandusky used to get access to and groom his victims.

MCMikeNamara: And that's why vacating the wins aren't re-writing history. They are, to the best of the ability of the NCAA, righting history. The program could have been damaged from 1998 until 2012 if this scandal had come out. Now it definitely is.

I actually don't think the program would have been damaged much at all if they had reported to police, cooperated, and cut ties to Sandusky. In fact, if they had made Sandusky persona non grata for raping boys in the team showers, they could have come out of the situation with their reputation largely intact. It's a community with thousands of faculty and staff, Sandusky wouldn't be the first or last one canned on suspicion of a major felony.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 8:02 AM on July 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Punishing the players and the fans, who did nothing wrong? Seriously? This is kind of bullshit.

The fans still have games to go to. The players can transfer and keep their scholarships, or even quit the team and keep their scholarships. I'm not crying for either group.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:02 AM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Punishing the players and the fans, who did nothing wrong? Seriously? This is kind of bullshit.


It's. Only. A. Fucking. Football. Team.

Anyone who seriously suffers from this decision needs to reevaluate his life choices and priorities.
posted by ocschwar at 8:03 AM on July 23, 2012 [43 favorites]


Punishing the players and the fans, who did nothing wrong?

How exactly are they being "punished"? They still get to play and watch football. What bad thing is happening to them? Oh, no bowl games? Wow, that's a terrible blow. They might have to watch some other game instead or go skiing or something.
posted by FelliniBlank at 8:03 AM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


The bit about vacating the wins seemed incredibly odd, and honestly unfair to the players.

No one talks about wins for players, except in extreme circumstances (Kellen Moore, former quarterback of Boise State, has the most wins of any Division I-A college QB -- I could not tell you who is second if you held a gun to my head). It's only for coaches and programs that anyone counts them, so if you want to penalize a coach and a program, that's how you do it.

This means at least a decade of irrelevance for PSU football.

Check out USC's sanctions for l'affaire Reggie Bush -- two-year bowl ban (2010 and 2011 seasons) and three-year loss of 10 scholarships (starting this season). That's slightly more than half of the Penn State penalties. USC is ranked #1 in the preseason by more than one analyst -- in the first year of the scholarship sanction. USC fans are selling "Our 75 Are Better Than Your 85" T-shirts.

SMU, on the other hand, got an actual death penalty -- no season at all in 1987 and no home games in 1988 (SMU decided not to have its road games either in 1988). That not only killed SMU's football program -- they've had four winning seasons since then, three of them in the last three years -- it did serious damage to the Southwest Conference, essentially killing it as well.

It'll hurt, but it's not a death penalty. Not even close.
posted by Etrigan at 8:03 AM on July 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


It seems to me that this was not a serious enough penalty if that's the reaction from fans.

I am a former Penn State undergrad, and my Facebook friends reactions' are varying from "This is the right thing for the victims" to "[swearing about the NCAA]"--so I think the punishment is probably hitting the mark.
posted by leesh at 8:04 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


//I have some former Penn State undergrads as Facebook friends. Here's what they're saying://

Because people won't cope by trying to convince themselves that this isn't a big deal?
posted by COD at 8:05 AM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


NCAA's treatment of Paterno is a total outrage. Any of these instances need be viewed in legal and historical context. There was no legal obligation to contact the police.

That has to be one of the most assinine and idiotic statements ever written here on MetaFilter.
posted by ericb at 8:05 AM on July 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


It's. Only. A. Fucking. Football. Team.

Indeed, and I personally don't give a shit about football, but this is tantamount to guilt by association, and it's not cool.
posted by moammargaret at 8:05 AM on July 23, 2012


I love this post's title. I've been thinking about Croesus throughout this whole scandal.
posted by Trochanter at 8:06 AM on July 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


Seriously, people. Poe's Law.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:06 AM on July 23, 2012


There's going to be a lot of vacant hotel space around State College PA.

That area is well endowed with state parks and other hiking opportunities.

That area can develop a whole new economy based on tourism. I hope they make the effort.

Beats what they had before, IMO.
posted by ocschwar at 8:06 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


CBrachyrhynchos: "
I actually don't think the program would have been damaged much at all if they had reported to police, cooperated, and cut ties to Sandusky...
"


Actually, I don't either. But it seems to me that was the thinking at Penn State when the covering up was happening. And to make the punishment for not coming forward worse than coming forward seems to be exactly what the punishment is for (which is what I was trying to say)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:06 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Punishing the players and the fans, who did nothing wrong? Seriously? This is kind of bullshit.

hmmm....no. They participated enthusiastically in this broken culture. It wasn't just the coaches who put football above academics and ethics.
posted by j_curiouser at 8:06 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have some former Penn State undergrads as Facebook friends. Here's what they're saying:

One of my friends from Happy Valley posted: "His statue may be gone but he lives in my heart forever".

I just don't get it.
posted by octothorpe at 8:07 AM on July 23, 2012


What year was that law passed?
posted by Jondo at 10:29 AM on July 23


23 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 6303: "Enactment. Chapter 63 was added December 19, 1990, P.L.1240, No.206, effective in 90 days."

Be that as it may, while a defense of legalistic hairsplitting over JoePa's responsibilities will never have to undergo genuine scrutiny in court (more's the pity), simple human decency should have been enough to motivate everyone involved in the cover-up to have gone to the authorities instead.
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:07 AM on July 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Didn't Paterno fight hard for an unusual retirement package for Sandusky, even after the first shower incident?

Oh also on this point, the report says that the whole retirement discussion seems to have completely ignored the shower incident. Sandusky was miffed that he wasn't going to get the head coaching job from Paterno when Paterno retired, so Paterno's own notes seemed to be revolving around justifying why Sandusky wasn't getting the job (ironically Paterno's main argument was that Sandusky was spending too much time running the Second Mile charity that he used to groom victims) and giving him enough in his retirement agreement to make up for it. If the shower incident was a part of the retirement discussion at all, there was no direct or indirect evidence of it in the report.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:09 AM on July 23, 2012


I am pleased with the precision of this punishment on one hand (vacating the wins and takign away the title of Winningest Coach), though I wish they could do something more intngible about the culture in that tow. It's a start, I guess.

When I heard about the statue being removed I so badly wanted to Photoshop it onto the image of the Saddam statue coming down. They both have that outstretch arm, oh, it would be awesome.

Anybody want to do me a solid and throw it together? :7)
posted by wenestvedt at 8:10 AM on July 23, 2012


*asinine*

But, I do like the typo.
posted by ericb at 8:10 AM on July 23, 2012


I think that what is lost is that a death penalty will lead to defensiveness and self-justification by athletes, fans, and staff that can linger for generations. Without any ongoing PSU football to watch, fans will thrive on memories of past glories and resentment against the external forces that prevent them from having any more.

Four, and probably more like ten or twelve, years of declining football will, instead, lead to increasing disinterest and disdain. Long seasons of bad, irrelevant games will do a lot more damage to PSU's highly vaunted traditions and legacy.

Ultimately the question is whether you wanted a punishment that affects the basic mechanism of people playing a sport, or a punishment that can apply a blow to the heart of why PSU had a program that people were willing to do vile things to defend.
posted by ardgedee at 8:10 AM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


One of my friends from Happy Valley posted: "His statue may be gone but he lives in my heart forever".

I just don't get it.


What's there to get? People, even smart ones, are tribal and naturally gravitate towards tribal authority figures. I've seen smart people on Metafilter defend indefensible things President Obama, the tribal leader of American liberalism, does. Joe Paterno was the tribal leader of the Penn State tribe, a very big tribe indeed. Of course people strain logic to retain faith in the leader.
posted by downing street memo at 8:10 AM on July 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


I am a former Penn State undergrad, and my Facebook friends reactions' are varying from "This is the right thing for the victims" to "[swearing about the NCAA]"--so I think the punishment is probably hitting the mark.

Sounds like you have a better mix of friends. I guess the question is whether we want serious institutional change from the NCAA or merely severe but survivable punishment.
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:11 AM on July 23, 2012


I find it sort of interesting that CNN's poll on this story is:

Did the NCAA get it right?
Yes, Penn State got exactly what it deserved.
No, the NCAA went too far.


I assume there are many non-Metafilter places where the two possible answers are 'just right' and 'too harsh' instead of 'just right' and 'not nearly harsh enough', but it feels like that poll is less about finding out people's opinions than it is about telling them what the range of available opinions is.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:12 AM on July 23, 2012 [12 favorites]


[Yeah, I think we can totally drop the Jondo derail now; thanks everyone.]
posted by taz at 8:13 AM on July 23, 2012


Last October, the Atlantic published an article called "The Shame of College Sports" which, while revolving around the scandals surrounding college athletes taking money against the rules, spilled a lot of ink discussing the crazy history of the N.C.A.A. Essentially, the N.C.A.A.'s first executive director, Walter Byers, spent about thirty years twisting arms until the formerly powerless organization grew into a major force.

Revisiting the article after this morning's announcement, I'm wondering about this passage:
The greatest threat to the viability of the NCAA may come from its member universities. Many experts believe that the churning instability within college football will drive the next major change. President Obama himself has endorsed the drumbeat cry for a national playoff in college football. This past spring, the Justice Department questioned the BCS about its adherence to antitrust standards. Jim Delany, the commissioner of the Big Ten, has estimated that a national playoff system could produce three or four times as much money as the existing bowl system does. If a significant band of football schools were to demonstrate that they could orchestrate a true national playoff, without the NCAA’s assistance, the association would be terrified—and with good reason. Because if the big sports colleges don’t need the NCAA to administer a national playoff in football, then they don’t need it to do so in basketball. In which case, they could cut out the middleman in March Madness and run the tournament themselves. Which would deprive the NCAA of close to $1 billion a year, more than 95 percent of its revenue. The organization would be reduced to a rule book without money—an organization aspiring to enforce its rules but without the financial authority to enforce anything.

Thus the playoff dreamed of and hankered for by millions of football fans haunts the NCAA. “There will be some kind of playoff in college football, and it will not be run by the NCAA,” says Todd Turner, a former athletic director in four conferences (Big East, ACC, SEC, and Pac-10). “If I’m at the NCAA, I have to worry that the playoff group can get basketball to break away, too.”

This danger helps explain why the NCAA steps gingerly in enforcements against powerful colleges. To alienate member colleges would be to jeopardize its own existence. Long gone are television bans and the “death penalty” sentences (commanding season-long shutdowns of offending teams) once meted out to Kentucky (1952), Southwestern Louisiana (1973), and Southern Methodist University (1987). Institutions receive mostly symbolic slaps nowadays. Real punishments fall heavily on players and on scapegoats like literacy tutors.
The sanctions that the N.C.A.A. meted out--and that Penn State chose to accept--this morning seem to be reasonable, and potentially don't go far enough, given what happened in State College over the past several years. Given the passage above, though, a part of me wonders to what extent the head honchos at the N.C.A.A. also considered this a perfect opportunity to consolidate the organization's power in the face of future challenges to its sovereignty.
posted by stubie at 8:14 AM on July 23, 2012 [11 favorites]


anotherpanacea: " Sounds like you have a better mix of friends. I guess the question is whether we want serious institutional change from the NCAA or merely severe but survivable punishment."

The NCAA would be just about the last organization I would rely on to push for "serious institutional change." The NCAA itself is the entity most responsible for the corrupt entity that is big-time college sports.

The punishment is deserved, but I really wish it had come from an entity with more moral high ground.

(On preview, stubie's post re: Taylor Branch's article nails it.)
posted by tonycpsu at 8:15 AM on July 23, 2012


So, wait, the Big Ten's sanctions were that PSU can't share in bowl revenues for four years? Wasn't that already in the NCAA sanction?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:16 AM on July 23, 2012


That area can develop a whole new economy based on tourism. I hope they make the effort.

Yeah, honestly, this not a way to somehow revitalize the economy of the area. There are some eco-based tourists, but it's in the middle of bloody nowhere and it's hours from any major urban center. At the end of it, PSU-- all of PSU, even the good parts-- will be affected by the huge fines that will be inflicted not just by the NCAA but also by the conferences, the civil cases, and any federal Cleary violations. If you went to a PALCI school in PA or have a kid at virtually any PA school who does research, you've probably held books labeled PATERNO LIBRARY. I have friends who work there and a close family member who graduated a few years ago. They're not friends of football at all. They're not making excuses. They're worried about the future of the university and they're sick of the media circuses and the riots. What fucking idiots and slimeballs all those men involved were, to risk the economy of the area and the reputation of their university over a coach.
posted by jetlagaddict at 8:17 AM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


All Big Ten teams get a share of revenues from any bowl featuring any of the teams. it's one of the benefits to being part of a conference.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:18 AM on July 23, 2012


//So, wait, the Big Ten's sanctions were that PSU can't share in bowl revenues for four years? Wasn't that already in the NCAA sanction?//

In the Big 10, bowl revenues are split among the teams. So Penn State won't get its cut of Michigan going to the Rose Bowl, or Purdue going to whatever mediocre bowl the potential win against Penn State now sets them up for.
posted by COD at 8:19 AM on July 23, 2012


the Big Ten's sanctions were that PSU can't share in bowl revenues for four years?

And a wee bit more:

The Big Ten announced it'll match the NCAA's four-year bowl ban with a four-year conference championship ban -- not that PSU's going to the Big Ten title game any time soon -- and will redistribute Penn State's cut of Big Ten bowl revenue for the same period to children's charities. That should amount to something like $13 million. Jim Delany also said the Big Ten is unlikely to prevent PSU players from leaving for other Big Ten schools.
posted by Egg Shen at 8:19 AM on July 23, 2012


roomthreeseventeen: "So, wait, the Big Ten's sanctions were that PSU can't share in bowl revenues for four years? Wasn't that already in the NCAA sanction?"

The NCAA's punishment keeps Penn State from going to bowl games, but the conferences decide how to distribute the revenue from other member institutions that go to bowls. This just means Penn State won't be collecting any portion of those revenues.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:19 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


stubie, that's interesting. The quote from a former NCAA Infractions Committee chair in the ESPN article looks different now, too:

A former Committee on Infractions chairman and current Division I Appeals Committee member told ESPN.com's Katz on Sunday the NCAA's penalizing of an institution and program for immoral and criminal behavior also breaks new ground...

"This is unique and this kind of power has never been tested or tried," the former chair said. "It's unprecedented to have this extensive power. This has nothing to do with the purpose of the infractions process. Nevertheless, somehow (the NCAA president and executive board) have taken it on themselves to be a commissioner and to penalize a school for improper conduct."

The chair said that the NCAA was dealing with a case that is outside the traditional rules or violations. He said this case does not fall within the basic fundamental purpose of NCAA regulations.

"The purpose of the NCAA is to keep a level playing field among schools and to make sure they use proper methods through scholarships and etcetera," the chair said. "This is not a case that would normally go through the process. It has nothing to do with a level playing field. It has nothing to do with whether Penn State gets advantages over other schools in recruiting or in the number of coaches or things that we normally deal with."

The NCAA, the chair said, had never gotten involved in punishing schools for criminal behavior. "The criminal courts are perfectly capable of handling these situations," the former chair said. "This is a new phase and a new thing. They are getting into bad behavior that are somehow connected to those who work in the athletic department. "This is an important precedent. And it should be taken with extreme care."

posted by mediareport at 8:19 AM on July 23, 2012


Guys, relax. Penn State will get by. They can always fall back on their lucrative "fellating fracking companies" business.
posted by Legomancer at 8:20 AM on July 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


I did not know about John Gagliardi until reading a list of coaching wins.
"He is currently the head football coach at Saint John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota, a position he has held since 1953."
posted by PHINC at 8:22 AM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Jim Delany also said the Big Ten is unlikely to prevent PSU players from leaving for other Big Ten schools.

Well, duh. It serves the Big Ten well to allow top players to stay in the conference.
posted by something something at 8:22 AM on July 23, 2012


@mediareport: Exactly. I can't help but be extra-critical of anything coming from the organization or anyone associated with it.
posted by stubie at 8:22 AM on July 23, 2012


The NCAA would be just about the last organization I would rely on to push for "serious institutional change."

Granted, certainly in hindsight. But if not them, who? Certainly this can't come from within Penn State if the Trustees keep people like Steve Garban on the board.

The Justice Department and the Department of Education could go nuclear and hit Penn State with penalties for its Clery Act violations, but my guess is that they won't because of collateral damage that will harm students first rather than athletics first. So who's left?
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:22 AM on July 23, 2012


Can we please stop demonizing the students and alumni of PSU for being fervent football fans? The vocal minority that are Paterno defenders (and they are the minority whether they believe it or not) are an embarrassment to the rest of us. I won't apologize for being a supporter of my school's athletic programs. What these shameful men did in charge of the program was not done for me or the other alumni and students. It was done for their own greed of power and money.
posted by sciencejock at 8:23 AM on July 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


Haven't seen it posted in this thread yet so if anyone's interested, this is a pdf link to the Freeh report.
posted by zarq at 8:23 AM on July 23, 2012


Just having to sit out for a few years because of "unfair" NCAA sanctions is more temporary, because you come back strong and everyone remembers you are a winner who just got a bad break.

This is hysterically wrong. Southern Methodist (SMU) received a two-year death penalty in 1987 due to their repeated payments to players. The program was dropped out of their conference and SMU was made irrelevant in college football. It wasn't until the 2008 season for them to have even slight relevance when they made their first bowl game in over 20 years.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 8:24 AM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I guess I'm ambivalent about the issue of these sanctions vs. the death penalty because I don't see the NCAA as the ultimate court of justice for Sandusky's victims. That is something that needs to happen in the state and federal courts, who will be tasked with the responsibility of determining just how much Penn State aided and abetted a serial rapist for over a decade.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 8:24 AM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Big Ten announced it'll match the NCAA's four-year bowl ban with a four-year conference championship ban

Considering that you already have to be eligible for postseason play to go to the conference championship, I'm not going to give the B1G a high-five for this one.
posted by Etrigan at 8:25 AM on July 23, 2012


Legomancer: "Guys, relax. Penn State will get by. They can always fall back on their lucrative "fellating fracking companies" business."

As was hinted at somewhere above, the penalty of $60M is less than 1/3rd of the approximate $208M in donations by individuals since the investigation began. So they've got that going for them, too.
posted by boo_radley at 8:25 AM on July 23, 2012


stubie, you're gonna love what Drew Magary just posted at Deadspin:

The NCAA Is Using Penn State To Justify Its Own Horrid Existence

Because that's what NCAA sanctions are, when you get right down to it. They're an exercise in branding. Punishment time is the only time people really pay attention to the NCAA. It's the NCAA's sax solo. Punishing a school is what helps the NCAA justify its existence to people, to say to the country, "WE ARE IN CONTROL HERE, EVERYONE."

...It's important to the NCAA that you be properly shocked and awed by the totality of its justice system. There was no way they were gonna miss out on shitting all over Penn State when shitting on Penn State makes for such good business these days...

This was cynical shit. I couldn't give two fucks what happens to the football team—dress them in white unitards and make them a French mime troop, for all I care—but there's nothing more ridiculous than watching the NCAA parade around its values and make frowny faces on national television, months and months after the scandal broke (and years and years after evil was allowed to take root). Blowing up Penn State gives perfect cover for every other big football school that is now, to use NCAA president Mark Emmert's phrase, "too big to fail," which describes all of them, and which describes the NCAA, too, while we're at it. It creates the illusion that everything is on the up-and-up again, and that other schools will see Penn State and totally get it now (they won't). In its own stupid way, it's the perfect end point for the Penn State scandal: rotten institution punishes institutional rot.

posted by mediareport at 8:26 AM on July 23, 2012 [17 favorites]


Punishing the players and the fans, who did nothing wrong? Seriously? This is kind of bullshit.

It's. Only. A. Fucking. Football. Team.

Anyone who seriously suffers from this decision needs to reevaluate his life choices and priorities.


The whole point is that the environment created by the cultlike enthusiasm of Penn State students, residents, fans to the football program is the most significant part of what allowed this to happen.
The NCAA statement said Penn State’s leadership had perpetuated a “football-first culture that ultimately enabled serial child sex abuse to occur.”
So yeah. I mean I'm sorry and all, fans, but suck it the fuck up. The kind of community where it's perceived that football comes first to the detriment of all else needs to be stamped out.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 8:26 AM on July 23, 2012 [10 favorites]


boo_radley: " As was hinted at somewhere above, the penalty of $60M is less than 1/3rd of the approximate $208M in donations by individuals since the investigation began. So they've got that going for them, too."

Shockingly, many Penn State alumni donate money to the University for reasons other than (or in addition to) football.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:28 AM on July 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Can we please stop demonizing the students and alumni of PSU for being fervent football fans?

No.
posted by j_curiouser at 8:28 AM on July 23, 2012 [10 favorites]


Penn State should not be allowed to play another football game. It put sport, image and fundraising above everything else. That is what every cheater in college athletics does, and because of that it deserves the NCAA’s “death penalty.”

Southern Methodist University, one of the nation’s top academic schools, saw its football program given the death penalty in 1987 because it put athletic success above what so obviously was considered morally acceptable. Isn’t it now clear that Penn State did the exact same thing?

In fact, what the powers Penn State did was worse. Their actions involved not materialistic goods but defenseless victims who will suffer for the rest of their lives.
posted by Egg Shen at 8:28 AM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Some people seem to be confusing punishment with inconvenience. For instance, right now, there is a multi-month road repair project going on a block from my house. As part of this process, things are torn up, and I'm experiencing delays, detours, obstacles to dog-walking, difficulty getting from my house to the mom-n-pop corner store.

Those are inconveniences, not punishments, and normal non-crybaby people realize that sometimes we are all inconvenienced by things that we didn't cause or ask for. This whole WE ARE ENTITLED TO OUR FOOTBALL GIVE US OUR FOOTBALL THAT STATUE IS OUR LIFEBLOOD YOU ARE KILLING US attitude is totally fucking nuts.
posted by FelliniBlank at 8:29 AM on July 23, 2012 [18 favorites]


Side question: if I recall correctly, Paterno walked away with a pretty lucrative retirement package, and the Paterno family worked out one heck of a sweet deal after his death.... does any of this affect those deals?
posted by easily confused at 8:30 AM on July 23, 2012


Certainly this can't come from within Penn State if the Trustees keep people like Steve Garban on the board.

Scratch that, Garban resigned last week. That fills me with a bit of hope.
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:30 AM on July 23, 2012


I can't believe anyone takes seriously what Louis Freeh has to say about anything.
posted by iconjack at 8:34 AM on July 23, 2012


iconjack: "I can't believe anyone takes seriously what Louis Freeh has to say about anything."

Blind squirrel meets nut. Gotta give credit where credit is due, since it appears to be a balanced, accurate report based on the facts that were available.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:36 AM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


[Jondo, you need to quit commenting here; all your comments have been derails, if not outright trolling. Cut it out. ]
posted by taz at 8:37 AM on July 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


NCAA, Mark Emmert, Unitary Executives & The Death of Due Process
It is a grotesque farce of epic proportion. The NCAA is, historically, one of the most malignant, arbitrary, capricious and self serving organizations in the history of man; that they sit in judgment as they have today is criminal in its own right.
...
Once unitary power is claimed, it is never relinquished, nor applied evenly and fairly.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:38 AM on July 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Somewhere, the folks at Miami's program are in a room breathing a sigh of relief.

"Good. They forgot about us..."
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 8:39 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Punishing the players and the fans, who did nothing wrong? Seriously? This is kind of bullshit.

Just add them to the long list of Jerry Sandusky's victims.
posted by malocchio at 8:41 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


(Not at nearly the same level, of course.)
posted by malocchio at 8:42 AM on July 23, 2012


a friend of mine asked me: seems to me that from the freeh report, the only thing implicating joe in the coverup was a couple emails to the president, which didn't even include joe. is that right?

This would be a fine defense of Paterno as an incompetent coach (the coach, being the direct boss of the defensive coordinator). If Paterno is an incompetent coach, then he doesn't seem to deserve a statue in the first place, so removing his statue should be NBD.

The closest thing I can think of is the Clery Act compliance, but the report itself is not really clear on whether or not Paterno's report to the higher-ups was enough (since Shultz was technically the head of the University Police which is legally responsible for law enforcement on the campus).

The NCAA isn't responsible for legal punishments against anyone. Paterno, the Penn State athletic program, and I would argue the Penn State Board of Trusties, failed in their ethical and moral duties. All the NCAA can do is regulate their own internal matters, which deal with the Penn State athletics program. Whether or not Paterno had a legal duty to report doesn't matter when it comes to Penn State athletics sanctions.
posted by muddgirl at 8:42 AM on July 23, 2012


It is a grotesque farce of epic proportion. The NCAA is, historically, one of the most malignant, arbitrary, capricious and self serving organizations in the history of man; that they sit in judgment as they have today is criminal in its own right.
...
Once unitary power is claimed, it is never relinquished, nor applied evenly and fairly.


I agree with this entirely. I also think you could replace the word "NCAA" with "Penn State Football", and "sit in judgment today" with "sat in judgment after the child rapes" and it would be no less accurate.
posted by mcstayinskool at 8:42 AM on July 23, 2012


The punishment is deserved, but I really wish it had come from an entity with more moral high ground.

For me the moral high ground issue doesn't really matter. The emails from Spanier that were documented in the Freeh Report literally said "The only downside for us is if message isn't 'heard' and acted upon and we then become vulnerable for not having reported it". Right now everyone who has any power to do so is throwing Penn State's leadership under the bus for this one, and the main message that anyone else in their position should be getting is that if they try to cover up something like this and get caught then there are going to be consequences for them and their organization. Drastically reforming collegiate sports and university power structure to make sure that a Sandusky-style coverup isn't possible anywhere probably isn't going to happen, but I think everyone has a better idea now that it's not just a matter of being "vulnerable" when something like this gets uncovered. If the only reason someone running a program or university would consider reporting a crime is because they could face future penalties, it's a good idea for everyone to do what they can to make those penalties as harsh as possible.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:43 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


(Also, I should add, whether or not Paterno had a legal duty to report beyond Shultz shouldn't matter for firing decisions, either. People can be fired for doing things that aren't strictly illegal).
posted by muddgirl at 8:44 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


My facebook feed includes Penn State alumns and reactions to the NCAA sanctions vary from "I feel sick" to "#usagainsttheworldbaby" and being upset about Paterno's statue coming down. I don't remember anybody commenting about how they feel sick about child rape and the coverup.

I'm curious to see what happens to ticket sales next year, people who are season ticket holders already had to buy their tickets for this season. I wonder how many empty seats there will be in Beaver Stadium.
posted by backwords at 8:45 AM on July 23, 2012


Can we please stop demonizing the students and alumni of PSU for being fervent football fans?

No.


Care to explain yourself? You think it is appropriate for fan of the team, who had no idea that this was going on, to be demonized? Or am I missing some nuance that your "No" doesn't capture?
posted by Falconetti at 8:46 AM on July 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


The fervency of the fandom is both the cause and product of the system that placed football above petty concerns like child rape. Knocking it down a few dozen pegs is necessary.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:50 AM on July 23, 2012 [14 favorites]


tonycpsu: "Shockingly, many Penn State alumni donate money to the University for reasons other than (or in addition to) football."

I agree with you, but it's tangential to the point: The institution can weather a penalty of $60M easily with near-record donations of $208M, even if you consider there are likely riders or use stipulations behind some portion of those donations.
posted by boo_radley at 8:52 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am only half-kidding when I say nuke it from orbit. PSU should cease to be.

Maybe three-quarters. Not sure.
posted by Thistledown at 8:52 AM on July 23, 2012


The fervency of the fandom is both the cause and product of the system that placed football above petty concerns like child rape. Knocking it down a few dozen pegs is necessary.

The fact that their beloved program was publicly shown to harbor a child rapist is probably going to account for many more pegs than a four-year bowl ban.
posted by Etrigan at 8:52 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


You think it is appropriate for fan of the team, who had no idea that this was going on, to be demonized?

This isn't the first incident of the Penn State athletic program whitewashing over a crime to protect their program. It is well-documented that when athletes or staff got in trouble, they would be turned over to Paterno for 'punishment', which was generally much less harsh than what was mandated for non-athletic students or staff. While it's believable that fans were ignorant of the specifics of this case, I find it hard to believe that fans could remain ignorant of the power that the Penn State football program, and how they used that power to protect that program at the cost of victims.
posted by muddgirl at 8:53 AM on July 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


honestly, i do feel bad for the people whose livelihood is in State College...people who's family business is a restaurant or hotel and who depend on the revenue.

they may end up being harmed up by this and unlike a hurricane or flood, there's no insurance money for this.

i'm sure that many of those people are just as sickened by this as we all are...if not more so. i can't imagine having your entire life wrapped up in this only to find out that the people you trusted were either a child predator or people who allowed a child predator to continue.

i wish there was a way to help them, to help all of state college. i think killing the football program outright would be too harsh and hurt too many who didn't know and weren't complicit.

i think that anyone who was involved and was complicit should not be allowed to work with children or even college students ever again. they obviously cannot be trusted to put the interests of their charges ahead of their own.

i will have to read the Freeh report at some point, i've so far only looked at the timeline that someone pointed out to me in the other thread.

but it's pretty damn obvious that way too many people knew and did absolutely nothing to make anything better for the victims, just worse. it's unfortunate that there can't be a certain line drawn between those who didn't know and those who did and the punishments for them. guess that points to how much it really was, and is, systemic.

i think i'm gonna not look at facebook for a few days so i don't have to see any supporters of psu that i forgot to hide or unfriend.
posted by sio42 at 8:53 AM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I just can't deal with erasing history, it seems fundamentally wrong to me.

I'm not sure if I can get behind editing history.

The attempted re-write of history is idiotic.


can we leave the mods out of this please.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 8:53 AM on July 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


I will say I think it's easy for people who didn't go to a big football school, or grow up in an area with a big football school, to misunderstand just how big of a deal it is culturally. I went to a DIII school for college (it might as well have been DXVII or something, that's how little attention we paid to sports), and am now at OSU for graduate school. Football permeates everything here, whether we want it to or not. I got some giggles on my first lecture by demonstrating the theory of gravity through pictures of Michigan players dropping the football. I have friends who grew up here who have been steeped in football their whole life. When it came out that Tressel was complicit in the OSU football scandal, people were seriously devastated - and that was something stupid like tattoos. I don't think it's beyond the pale for people to resist the idea that their hero was complicit in child rape, and to express that in stupid ways.
posted by ChuraChura at 8:54 AM on July 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


(Not that I think Penn State's football program is unique - I wouldn't have been surprised if this had occured at some other big football school.)
posted by muddgirl at 8:54 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


The NCAA isn't responsible for legal punishments against anyone. Paterno, the Penn State athletic program, and I would argue the Penn State Board of Trusties, failed in their ethical and moral duties. All the NCAA can do is regulate their own internal matters, which deal with the Penn State athletics program. Whether or not Paterno had a legal duty to report doesn't matter when it comes to Penn State athletics sanctions.

I was actually not talking about the NCAA sanctions at all in that comment. I was referring back to the original comment that you responded to in regards to Slap*Happy's claim and my confusion about what specifically Slap*Happy was talking about that would have gotten Paterno fired. At any rate I have no idea what the NCAA does or doesn't have the ability to impose athletic sanctions over.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:55 AM on July 23, 2012


Falconetti -

I don't guess there's much nuance necessary, IMHO. six-or-six-thirty put it pretty well here.

The whole point is that the environment created by the cultlike enthusiasm of Penn State students, residents, fans to the football program is the most significant part of what allowed this to happen.
posted by j_curiouser at 8:55 AM on July 23, 2012


I was referring back to the original comment that you responded to in regards to Slap*Happy's claim and my confusion about what specifically Slap*Happy was talking about that would have gotten Paterno fired

Sorry, I addressed that in a later comment:
(Also, I should add, whether or not Paterno had a legal duty to report beyond Shultz shouldn't matter for firing decisions, either. People can be fired for doing things that aren't strictly illegal).
If Paterno was merely a dumb pawn in a coverup perpetrated by Shultz and others, he should be fired for being an incompetent coach. Even if he did nothing illegal.
posted by muddgirl at 8:57 AM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


tonycpsu's link is worth reading:

The NCAA rules and bylaws do not apply on their face, and are clearly not intended for the type of application just imposed against PSU...

There was no statutory investigation by the NCAA enforcement arm, no infractions, whether minor or major, found, no improper recruiting, no academic cheating, no sex, drugs nor rock and roll found present. Nothing. Punishment without crime or bylaw due process. And Emmert had the temerity to jam Penn State into a consent decree so that there would be no appeal. It is just stunning arrogance and belligerence...

So, Mark Emmert and the 22 high holy men that are the NCAA Board of Directors arrogated upon themselves the grandstanding pulpit and power to decree from on high the moral judgment necessary to salve their own souls and shine their egg. It was an egregious claim of power by a unitary executive via the abrogation of normal procedural due process.

posted by mediareport at 8:58 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


You think it is appropriate for fan of the team, who had no idea that this was going on, to be demonized?

Speaking for myself, continued support for Penn State football sounds like saying "There are worthy things about the institution - despite its facilitation of child rape".

I have difficulty with this.
posted by Egg Shen at 8:58 AM on July 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


If 8 of the other 11 Big 10 Presidents approve, Penn State could be kicked out of the Big 10.
posted by COD at 7:02 AM on July 23 [+] [!]


Complete side note, but that confused me as a non-American and made me look up Big 10 on Wikipedia.

Despite the conference's name, the Big Ten actually consists of twelve schools, following the addition of Pennsylvania State University in 1993 and the University of Nebraska–Lincoln in 2011. It is not to be confused with the Big 12 Conference, which has only ten schools and represents a different region of the country.

Big 10 has 12 teams.
Big 12 has 10 teams.

Confusion reigns.
posted by MattWPBS at 9:00 AM on July 23, 2012 [9 favorites]


Also the Big East includes schools in Wisconsin and Illinois.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:01 AM on July 23, 2012


I'm torn. When I first read about it I thought the penalty was pretty substantial, but some folks in this thread have begun to make me think that a complete ban was really the only proper sanction.
posted by OmieWise at 9:01 AM on July 23, 2012


Egg Shen: "Speaking for myself, continued support for Penn State football sounds like saying "There are worthy things about the institution - despite its facilitation of child rape".

I have difficulty with this.
"

I'm a Penn State alumnus, and also an American. My alma mater covered up for a child predator. My country killed Native Americans, enslaved a race of people, interred Japanese during World War II, and continues to do despicable things that I do not support. Yet I still want the institution to continue to exist, and to be better than it has been throughout its history. If we judge the worth of every institution by its worst moment, then there are no institutions worth preserving.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:02 AM on July 23, 2012 [26 favorites]


Why does the NCAA have to engage in due process? They are a private association (formed after the threat of government regulation).
posted by muddgirl at 9:03 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


In related news, God has vacated all miracles recorded under Pope Benedict XVI
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:04 AM on July 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


So, Mark Emmert and the 22 high holy men that are the NCAA Board of Directors arrogated upon themselves the grandstanding pulpit and power to decree from on high the moral judgment necessary to salve their own souls and shine their egg. It was an egregious claim of power by a unitary executive via the abrogation of normal procedural due process.

OK, I get this argument, and I can see how the NCAA is using this to further their own power/limits. I guess my question is - if the NCAA didn't act, didn't do anything in response to this situation, what would be said about them then? I suspect the comments would be along the line of how corrupt and morally bankrupt they are that they won't punish Penn State.

I have no love for the unholy cesspool that college athletics seems to have become in order to benefit the organizers, but I have this feeling that the NCAA can't win in this situation.
posted by never used baby shoes at 9:04 AM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


tonycpsu's link is nonsense:
ut it does not contemplate regulation of felonious criminal behavior, even if it is tangential to a major college sports programThey're not regulating felonius criminal behavior. They're regulating a member program which created an unsafe atmosphere for staff, student athletes, and fans. I don't see why this isn't in their purview.
posted by muddgirl at 9:04 AM on July 23, 2012


Big 10 has 12 teams.
Big 12 has 10 teams.

Confusion reigns.


You know, this isn't exactly a side note, because the reason this confusion reigns is because the NCAA has been one ginormous money grab for the last few decades. Penn State was not historically in the Big 10, but they joined because it was financially lucrative. The Big 8 became the Big 12, but now has shrunk because other new powers, e.g., the Big 10 (which continues to use the name because of its branding power), have stolen teams away. It's all about money and power. As was this scandal.
posted by mcstayinskool at 9:05 AM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


This penalty sounds about right to me. The money is big, but bigger still is the decimation of the program for many years. Paterno is gone and no new coaches worth their salt will be willing to fill this void during the penalty. Recruiting will be difficult at best for more than four years. Also, Paterno is dead so they did about the only thing they could, erase his legacy. All in all it was a bad day for the child rapers.
posted by caddis at 9:08 AM on July 23, 2012


Why does the NCAA have to engage in due process?

They don't have to, but they should because due process is often essential to our conception of justice. Frontier justice is how some in PA have characterized it.

First, no matter what you believe is the sentiment around here, it is overwhelmingly negative toward Penn State around the country. I’m not talking about the incessant blather coming from pet shop turtles competing to be more outraged than the next on television and in print. I mean common people out there.

Many, many college football fans across the nation wanted the death penalty for Penn State. If you didn’t see that, you weren’t paying attention. These people neither understand nor care about precedent regarding the NCAA’s usual due process, which has apparently been skirted by Emmert due to the ammo provided him by Penn State’s own Freeh Report. They, by and large, don’t understand anything about the NCAA’s bylaws and that they do not reference criminal behavior, only the breaking of recruiting regulations and the like.

All people in other areas of the country care about at this point is frontier justice. They wanted a hanging. It appears they won’t be getting it. Many will be angry about that.


I wonder where the top recruits in PA are going to end up now, it will be bizarre if Temple and Pitt end up with better teams out of all this but I think for non-Penn State obsessed football fans that would be a good result on the football side of things.

As for the death penalty, it is just too harsh to kill the program and would punish too many people not involved.

The head of the Central PA Convention and Visitors Bureau, which promotes tourism in and around Penn State, sees the death penalty for football as nothing short of a natural disaster.

“The analogy I would use is similar to what happened in the Gulf with the oil spill,” said Betsey Howell, the bureau’s executive director. “It devastated their tourism industry as it related to their beaches and fishing at that time. Football could be viewed as our beach season.”

Football fills all of the county’s lodging properties seven weekends a year. The spillover provides a welcome windfall to surrounding areas, helping ring cash registers at restaurants, shops and convenience stores within a 100-mile radius.

Take all that away, and you’re not just looking at a lost season, but wrecked livelihoods, Howell said.

posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:17 AM on July 23, 2012


Black radio here in Louisiana was awash with conspiracy theory talk about how the NCAA knew all about Paterno, and overlooked it because they wanted to erase Eddie Robinson's record as the winningest coach in NCAA Division I football.

So, at least that's done with and Eddie's got his title back.
posted by The Giant Squid at 9:17 AM on July 23, 2012


Also the Big East includes schools in Wisconsin and Illinois.

And will soon include schools in California and Idaho. All four time zones.
posted by Etrigan at 9:19 AM on July 23, 2012


Frontier justice is how some in PA have characterized it.

Frontier justice like deciding that the Penn State athletic program can handle a child abuser extra-legally?

I'm not usually one for "an eye for an eye", but it sounds to me like the athletic program is getting what they asked for.
posted by muddgirl at 9:20 AM on July 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


All people in other areas of the country care about at this point is frontier justice

Oh for fuck's sake. Frontier justice? It's not unreasonable to say that an organization that rose to a power that was so absolute it allowed this abomination to take place not be allowed to operate any more. That's not frontier justice. It's justice.
posted by mcstayinskool at 9:20 AM on July 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


I have zero respect for "the fans" of Penn state after the riots last year.

death penalty for the program. the the college actually be a college (you know, academic education) and not a subsidized Junior league for the pros.
posted by edgeways at 9:22 AM on July 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


They don't have to, but they should because due process is often essential to our conception of justice. Frontier justice is how some in PA have characterized it.

I thought I had read that Penn State negotiated this deal with the NCAA, making it more of a plea-bargain than something imposed unilaterally.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 9:26 AM on July 23, 2012


If we judge the worth of every institution by its worst moment, then there are no institutions worth preserving.

On the one hand, the child rape. But on the other hand, that 4th quarter comeback victory in the 1987 Fiesta Bowl!

If it's a question of school pride, I see that they do have the world's largest student-run philanthropy*. Or, if it must be athletics, the wrestling team are repeat conference champions*.

Perhaps cheering the football team in particular could wait at least until the serial child rapist it harbored is sentenced for his crimes.
posted by Egg Shen at 9:27 AM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


The advantage to this punishment is that every single time they play, there will be mention of this horrible event. This punishment will not let us as football fans, forget any time soon, the horror that was allowed to go on. 5 years of no football results in maybe one year of bad publicity down the road (probably more of the 'we got picked on' rhetoric than anything though). This punishment should drive it home every single game they have for a very long time.
posted by JakeEXTREME at 9:28 AM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Big 12 has 10 teams.

Confusion reigns.


But it all comes out in the wash (a bit) next season unless I'm doing the math wrong. Ohio State also banned from post-season play next year. Which means 10 teams will be eligible for the Big 10 title.

(Though, and somebody please correct me if I'm wrong, but one of the reasons the Big 10 became a 12 team conference was because in order to have a conference championship game, conferences had to have 12 teams... Lord knows how the conference game will be effected by this -- especially since Ohio State and Penn State are in the same division... the selection criteria for the conference game actually lists what to do if the division champion is ineligible (defaults to the runner-up) but doesn't list what to do if the runner-up is also ineligible))*



* Please note that I am able to consider these things while also realizing in the grand scheme of things the answer doesn't matter a whit.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:29 AM on July 23, 2012


There was no legal obligation to contact the police.

There was a moral one.

And regarding the NCAA taking the wins away - they do that in other cases (like recruiting violations), so in that respect, Penn State ain't special.
posted by rtha at 9:29 AM on July 23, 2012


when sentencing for sandusky happen?

someone tell me that house arrest for the rest of his pitiful life is not an option?

he's going to go to real prison and not some weird white collar country club prison?
posted by sio42 at 9:30 AM on July 23, 2012


(Not that I think Penn State's football program is unique - I wouldn't have been surprised if this had occured at some other big football school.)


While it absolutely could have, Paterno was a relic in more ways than one. Almost no one else is left practicing his lifetime coach/cult of personality model. Colleges don't generally want someone to stay in that role for 50 years, build up their own power structure, and become nearly unfireable. The college football culture has moved toward a model of a coach staying for no more than 10 or 15 years before moving on, whether to the NFL, another school, or just retiring. My guess is that as the money in football has increased exponentially, the people with hands on the pursestrings are more vested in maintaining absolute control over the cash cow programs, even if it means losing a great coach, because you can always find another good coach, but it's very, very difficult to fire someone that's become an institution in their own right.

That, of course, is all happening at a level below the power struggles between schools and the NCAA, which generally follow a similar pattern in some ways. I don't think any of the cover-up/punishment happens without both the context of the last of the lifetime coaches trying desperately to hold onto his power and the NCAA seeing an opportunity to flex its muscles a bit in the wake of the major football conferences staging their own extra-NCAA playoff and generally chasing dollars with the sort of reckless abandon the NCAA traditionally reserves for itself.
posted by Copronymus at 9:31 AM on July 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


and the removal of all wins dating to 1998

Add me to the crowd that says, Bad Call. NASCAR's hardly my favorite sport organization but they've got the right policy on this kind of thing: whoever crosses the finish line first is the winner and shall remain the winner regardless of what might be found out later in terms of cheating, or whatever penalties may be levied due to on-track behavior (ie: forcing an incident on the final lap).

Championship points may be taken away, hefty fines and suspensions levied, prize money denied ... but the winner remains the winner in the history books, because that's what the folks saw who went to the race.
posted by philip-random at 9:33 AM on July 23, 2012


he's going to go to real prison and not some weird white collar country club prison?

He will almost certainly spend the rest of his life in prison, and I would assume that, if only to protect him from violence, it'd be a relatively high-security one.
posted by downing street memo at 9:34 AM on July 23, 2012


The other sanctions may or may not be enough punishment, but having the wins vacated is an awesome deterrent. If you're a head coach looking to leave a winning legacy you might be willing to make great sacrifices -- both yourself and others -- to see that realized. This pulls the teeth on that.

But more importantly, removal of the "winningest coach" title was the only way that the NCAA had to go after Paterno himself instead of the football program. It's not a direct reprimand, but that's kind of hard to do to a dead guy anyway. Strip that title and it reminds the other head coaches that not only they themselves but also their personal football legacy is forfeit if they don't keep their house in order.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:36 AM on July 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


It's not that someone else is called the winner - the race didn't happen under NCAA purview, so it's not in their books.
posted by muddgirl at 9:36 AM on July 23, 2012


I'm in favor of removing the wins. It was to preserve the winning ability of the team that the whole thing was covered up; that's a big part of the institution. Having them pulled sends the ultimate message of "And it didn't even work."
posted by KathrynT at 9:37 AM on July 23, 2012 [10 favorites]


philip-random: "but the winner remains the winner in the history books"

Except, that's really the point of this. They don't. The history books will either record someone else as a winner, or include them with a permanent mention that their wins were vacated because they abused their authority.

And it's a wonderful deterrent and profound statement, since they clearly cared more about winning than the welfare of their students. So that's what was taken away from them. Their winning records.
posted by zarq at 9:39 AM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


With Penn State and Ohio State ineligible, this could be Purdue's year for a Rose Bowl run!

#notreally
posted by COD at 9:39 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


whoever crosses the finish line first is the winner and shall remain the winner regardless of what might be found out later in terms of cheating, or whatever penalties may be levied due to on-track behavior (ie: forcing an incident on the final lap).

Championship points may be taken away, hefty fines and suspensions levied, prize money denied ... but the winner remains the winner in the history books, because that's what the folks saw who went to the race.


This is such a weird policy. It replaces truth with fact, and then seeks to make a virtue of it. If someone cheated then they didn't win, despite appearances to the contrary.
posted by OmieWise at 9:40 AM on July 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


I thought I had read that Penn State negotiated this deal with the NCAA, making it more of a plea-bargain than something imposed unilaterally.

To be clear, the frontier justice line was in reference to call for the death penalty, not the actual sanctions that came down.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:40 AM on July 23, 2012


Penn State knew about three reports of rape on campus property by an assistant coach, coach emeritus. What did they do about it?

* They told Sandusky about the report.
* They did nothing to verify the identity of the victim.
* They continued to engage in promotional relationships with Sandusky's charity.
* They let Sandusky run clinics and camps at satellite campuses.
* They let Sandusky train with the team.
* They may have let Sandusky jump the queue on bowl tickets for his victims.

During which, Sandusky continued to abuse children.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 9:40 AM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I wonder where the top recruits in PA are going to end up now, it will be bizarre if Temple and Pitt end up with better teams out of all this

Or maybe they will go to a non-football college to do something really bizarre, like go to classes, earn a degree and begin their professional life.
posted by lampshade at 9:47 AM on July 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


So not Temple then.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:48 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Or maybe they will go to a non-football college to do something really bizarre, like go to classes, earn a degree and begin their professional life.

I've only met a few collegiate football players and this is pretty much what they did anyways, after their playing days were over.
posted by Atreides at 9:50 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


If 8 of the other 11 Big 10 Presidents approve, Penn State could be kicked out of the Big 10.

Aside from the obvious Great Justice, that would allow them to use the previous logo, which cleverly hid an 11 in the negative space.

What? I think about these things.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:52 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Good decision. Penn State deserves none of the kudos it used to get.

Funny how some of the "get the banksters even if the economy or secretaries and janitors get fired" are all about how the death penalty would hurt innocents. Punishing organizations like Arthur Anderson hurts innocents. And the coming LIBOR prosecutions will too. But it is not the fault of the prosecutors that the innocents get hurt. It is the fault of JoPa. If he had done the right thing none of this would have happened.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:52 AM on July 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


philip-random: "NASCAR's hardly my favorite sport organization but they've got the right policy on this kind of thing: whoever crosses the finish line first is the winner and shall remain the winner regardless of what might be found out later in terms of cheating, or whatever penalties may be levied due to on-track behavior (ie: forcing an incident on the final lap). "

The reason why baseball has the asterisk is to help balance the record.

Let's look at Barry Bonds. Hell of a ball player. On September 23, 2006, Bonds surpassed Hank Aaron for the NL career home run record. Was indicted for lying to a federal grand jury about his anabolic steroid use.

Yet Aaron did it without drugs. Babe Ruth achieved his accomplishments with 'em. Etc. So why should Bonds, who (it is assumed) used illegal performance enhancing drugs, be considered their equal without further context explaining that he cheated to get there?

All his records become suspect once you know he took steroids. He holds the record for most walks in a single season ('04). Would pitchers have deliberately walked him if he hadn't had such a high slugging percentage? Doubtful. Would he have had that percentage without steroids. Also doubtful. The steroids taint everything.
posted by zarq at 9:54 AM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Babe Ruth achieved his accomplishments with 'em.

Errrr.... withOUT them.
posted by zarq at 9:55 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Babe Ruth achieved his accomplishments with 'em.

Errrr.... withOUT them.

Without steroids OR negroes.


Punishing the players and the fans, who did nothing wrong? Seriously? This is kind of bullshit.

Yes, it sucks. But aren't they forced to do something? Maybe some of the 200 some-odd million in donations should be spread around the community, to the businesses that get mentioned as suffering from the fallout.
posted by Trochanter at 9:56 AM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


State negotiated this deal with the NCAA, making it more of a plea-bargain than something imposed unilaterally.

To be clear, the frontier justice line was in reference to call for the death penalty, not the actual sanctions that came down.


The NCAA is a private organization and it owes zero duty of due process beyond what in contractually agrees to. If a bunch of others not involved are harmed its because of the people who covered this up, not the NCAA. Those persons are the but-for cause of the punishment. Wrath whould be saved for them.

Watching the way Franco Harris, PS students, Paterno's family and other people from the area have behaved has been sad.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:57 AM on July 23, 2012


Or maybe they will go to a non-football college to do something really bizarre, like go to classes, earn a degree and begin their professional life.

You can do that and play football. One UDFA for the Eagles this year has a degree in cell biology and neuroscience and is considering med school.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:58 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


whoever crosses the finish line first is the winner and shall remain the winner regardless of what might be found out later in terms of cheating, or whatever penalties may be levied due to on-track behavior (ie: forcing an incident on the final lap).

Championship points may be taken away, hefty fines and suspensions levied, prize money denied ... but the winner remains the winner in the history books, because that's what the folks saw who went to the race.

This is such a weird policy. It replaces truth with fact, and then seeks to make a virtue of it. If someone cheated then they didn't win, despite appearances to the contrary.


To be fair, NASCAR championships are rewarded based on the amount of points a driver accumulates over the year in a series of races, rather than the number of victories. If you used the NASCAR method in football, the title would go to whichever team accumulated the most points, rather than the most victories.

Now, after that derail, it's helpful to think of the NCAA vacating of PSU's wins as saying "those games don't count" making them akin to scrimmages, rather than changing the actual outcomes of those games. PSU still won those games on the field of play, but they don't count as "official" games.
posted by KingEdRa at 10:00 AM on July 23, 2012


Or maybe they will go to a non-football college to do something really bizarre, like go to classes, earn a degree and begin their professional life.

Nearly 10,000 people attend college each year on football scholarships. Just over 200 are drafted into the NFL each year. That means that 97 percent of football players are already "go[ing] to classes, earn[ing] a degree and begin[ning] their professional life." Yes, there are excesses and guys who go to college for five years and don't learn a damn thing. But the vast, vast majority of college football players are there because it's a scholarship to a good school.
posted by Etrigan at 10:00 AM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


The NCAA is a private organization and it owes zero duty of due process beyond what in contractually agrees to.

Yes, I mentioned that they don't have to, but they should because due process is often essential to our conception of justice. If you give people who want to excuse Paterno a valid reason to see the punishment as less just, they will take it.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:02 AM on July 23, 2012


Nearly 10,000 people attend college each year on football scholarships. Just over 200 are drafted into the NFL each year. That means that 97 percent of football players are already "go[ing] to classes, earn[ing] a degree and begin[ning] their professional life."

Because only a tiny percentage of players go to the NFL means that 97 percent are going to classes and earning a degree? Do you realize how stupid this statement is?
posted by mcstayinskool at 10:03 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Trochanter: " Without steroids OR negroes."

Or night games. Or the designated hitter rule.

It still matters.
posted by zarq at 10:03 AM on July 23, 2012


Everything that can be done to forever tie Joe Paterno's name to the idea "covered up for a child rapist" ought to be done. Paterno is dead, but there are almost certainly other people out there in this situation- aware that Something Very Bad is going on, but fearing the consequences of exposing it, and looking the other way.

Child rapists think they won't get caught. We need to make it clear to the people that protect them (yes I am looking at you, Catholic Church) that there are consequences for those who protect rapists instead of children.

To that end, I think that leaving a weakened football program is okay. It will ensure that Paterno's legacy of looking the other way will be brought up every year, for years on end, and hopefully make those other people out there understand that the consequences for looking the other way are worse than the consequences of doing the right thing.
posted by ambrosia at 10:04 AM on July 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


For what it's worth, I would shut down the program for ten years or more. A culture so inhuman it lets a known child rapist go about his business unimpeded is a culture that deserves a punishment far greater than that doled out by the corrupt NCAA. In fact, this would be a good time to go even further and address the malignancy that college football has become. We could follow Taylor Branch's suggestion and start paying players for the millions and millions in revenue they generate or, more appropriately, as Buzz Bissinger suggests, we could simply get rid of it:

That's because college football has no academic purpose. Which is why it needs to be banned. A radical solution, yes. But necessary in today's times.

Football only provides the thickest layer of distraction in an atmosphere in which colleges and universities these days are all about distraction, nursing an obsession with the social well-being of students as opposed to the obsession that they are there for the vital and single purpose of learning as much as they can to compete in the brutal realities of the global economy.

Who truly benefits from college football? Alumni who absurdly judge the quality of their alma mater based on the quality of the football team. Coaches such as Nick Saban of the University of Alabama and Bob Stoops of the University of Oklahoma who make obscene millions. The players themselves don't benefit, exploited by a system in which they don't receive a dime of compensation. The average student doesn't benefit, particularly when football programs remain sacrosanct while tuition costs show no signs of abating as many governors are slashing budgets to the bone.

If the vast majority of major college football programs made money, the argument to ban football might be a more precarious one. But too many of them don't—to the detriment of academic budgets at all too many schools. According to the NCAA, 43% of the 120 schools in the Football Bowl Subdivision lost money on their programs. This is the tier of schools that includes such examples as that great titan of football excellence, the University of Alabama at Birmingham Blazers, who went 3-and-9 last season. The athletic department in 2008-2009 took in over $13 million in university funds and student fees, largely because the football program cost so much, The Wall Street Journal reported. New Mexico State University's athletic department needed a 70% subsidy in 2009-2010, largely because Aggie football hasn't gotten to a bowl game in 51 years. Outside of Las Cruces, where New Mexico State is located, how many people even know that the school has a football program? None, except maybe for some savvy contestants on "Jeopardy." What purpose does it serve on a university campus? None.

posted by Karmadillo at 10:04 AM on July 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


To that end, I think that leaving a weakened football program is okay. It will ensure that Paterno's legacy of looking the other way will be brought up every year, for years on end, and hopefully make those other people out there understand that the consequences for looking the other way are worse than the consequences of doing the right thing.

I agree, and I also want to make clear: This wasn't just Paterno, and in many ways the focus on Paterno's legacy is a little unfortunate. JoePa fans can argue that the evidence against him is circumstantial (which is inconsequential to me, considering Paterno is dead and can't face any legalconsequences, but the Freeh report is pretty unambiguous in its findings that the athletic directer, Tim Curley, as well as other members of the Penn State heirarchy, including the vice president of finances and the president himself, were actively or passively part of the cover-up.
posted by muddgirl at 10:12 AM on July 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Or night games. Or the designated hitter rule.

If MLB were to vacate all wins "earned" under the designated hitter rule I wouldn't bat an eye.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:13 AM on July 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


Punishing the players and the fans, who did nothing wrong? Seriously? This is kind of bullshit.

It does suck to be a fan, no doubt. It's like being an Enron employee or a secretary at an investment bank, except without the losing your job and having your personal life thrown into turmoil part. Or any actual consequence other than having your fond memories sullied, really.

The current players actually are screwed though, which is a shame.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:13 AM on July 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


muddgirl: fair point. You could pretty much swap out "Penn State" for Paterno.
posted by ambrosia at 10:15 AM on July 23, 2012


//The current players actually are screwed though, which is a shame.//

How? They've still got their scholarships, and they can still play football at Penn State. If they no longer want to play at Penn State, they can transfer without the customary 1-year waiting period. The current players might be inconvenienced, but they are not screwed.
posted by COD at 10:15 AM on July 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


This strikes me as on the light end of reasonable. If the only punishment Penn State had to suffer was the NCAA penalty, then I'd agree it was insufficient. Of course, the real punishment is much broader. The massive PR hit the school has taken with perspective students will hurt it's football future. But I don't care much about that. I think the problem here is an institutional and cultural one at schools like Penn State. Perhaps by degrading its football program enough, the primacy of football will disappear and permit a change of culture. But if it does not, I know one thing that will change it: the major lash of punishment will be from the civil lawsuits and they will significantly alter the landscape of the school.

The civil lawsuits will shed even more light at the institutional failings of the school and JoePa. (His family will not like it when there is a de facto prosecution of his misconduct). Based on the limited amount of information I know that has been publicly available, the civil lawsuits against Penn State will be a bloodbath. The public exposure of the misconduct of the leaders will tarnish the school and force a cleansing. It would not be unreasonable to conclude that the values of the claims for each victim could be $10m each. And if the case went to trial, the punitive verdict could be 9 figures. That's a lot of exposure. With great attorneys like Tom Kline representing a couple of the victims, it could get real ugly and really painful for Penn State.

So there is a lot more punishment to come.
posted by dios at 10:20 AM on July 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Paterno is dead and can't face any legal consequences
posted by muddgirl at 12:12 PM on July 23


His estate could be liable for civil monetary damages. I have no idea if his estate is worth anything, and that may factor into whether someone goes after it, but one could fashion an argument that Paterno is liable in his personal as well as his "corporate" capacity (for which Penn State will have to pay).
posted by dios at 10:23 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Because only a tiny percentage of players go to the NFL means that 97 percent are going to classes and earning a degree? Do you realize how stupid this statement is?

I'm a college professor and I assure you that it's not just athletes who skip classes and don't earn degrees.

I also think it's funny to act as if going to class and preparing for a 'professional life' is more honorable than playing football. I assure you, I'm no football fan, but I'm pretty sure playing college football for a few years, even at the expense of 'preparing for professional life', is for most, more fulfilling than the years of sitting behind a desk their college preparation will no doubt earn them. Kids: have fun while you can.

As for the NCAA punishment--I think it's harsh. While it's easy to act as if Penn State is composed of a bunch of soulless football loving ogres, it's also a well-respected academic institution with 40k students and 30+ varsity athletic programs that, hopefully, won't suffer as a result. I also am familiar with State College and the area--it's not just the football team that's important to the local economy, the university is the local economy. Sadly, a company town's a company town--I have a feeling that Penn State home games will be as packed as ever, but I am glad the football program is allowed to continue, even though I'm personally not a fan.
posted by drobot at 10:27 AM on July 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


To be clear, I'm in favor of nuking the Penn State football program from orbit and then sowing the fields with salt so nothing can ever grow there again. But all the same I am curious whether there's a good answer to graphnerd's question upthread: what is the formal justification for the NCAA laying down this penalty? What NCAA rule did Paterno et al break? Do they really have a rule against participating in a criminal conspiracy to cover up child rape (and good on them if they did)?

I'm just wondering, from the totally bloodless perspective of legal formalism, what the NCAA's justification for this penalty is. What happened seems so far outside their jurisdictional purview I can't imagine they actually have the rules to cover it.
posted by gerryblog at 10:31 AM on July 23, 2012


His estate could be liable for civil monetary damages.

As I understand the terms of his last contract, Paterno's estate is still benefitting from its relationship to Penn State, most notably in the perks department but also maybe in financial areas as well and benefitted considerably during those years called into question: 1998 through 2011.

IANAL, but one would have to be negligent not to sue the Paterno estate given how it profited from a cover-up, devised by its principal, of the rapes of those children by one of its associates.
posted by jsavimbi at 10:32 AM on July 23, 2012


"Perhaps Penn State agreeing to sign this consent decree is an indication of their appreciation for what is their real exposure here, and that is to the victims in the civil litigation that is to follow."

— Matt Casey, an attorney whose legal team represents several victims in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case.

posted by gen at 10:33 AM on July 23, 2012


To be clear, I'm in favor of nuking the Penn State football program from orbit and then sowing the fields with salt so nothing can ever grow there again. But all the same I am curious whether there's a good answer to graphnerd's question upthread: what is the formal justification for the NCAA laying down this penalty? What NCAA rule did Paterno et al break? Do they really have a rule against participating in a criminal conspiracy to cover up child rape (and good on them if they did)?

The Consent Decree answers that question. Essentially the NCAA has some by laws that require institutions to maintain integrity and responsible conduct and the NCAA and Penn State have agreed that Penn State violated those rules.

I can't find the actual by laws to say how the rules are exactly worded but the Consent Decree makes it clear that there are rules requiring institutions and individuals to behave with integrity, however that's defined.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:39 AM on July 23, 2012


this is the equivalent of a 5 yard penalty for illegal procedure.

I dunno. People care a lot about records. Joe Paterno was the winningest coach in the history of college football, i.e. "THE GREATEST COLLEGE FOOTBALL COACH EVER."

Now, his legacy has lost that. Before, people could say, "well, whatever, they can't take away his wins."

They just did. Touche, NCAA. I didn't think it would go there.

Everything except the wins seems totally justified to me.

I think it's the most important part of the punishment. It's really the only way to retroactively punish Joe Paterno.

It's the same reason I think Pete Rose should be in the hall of fame, and that no asterix should be affixed to Barry Bonds HR records.

Well, of course no to the last (nothing was ever proven against Bonds). Rose's case is more difficult, as he admitted to betting on games he played in. I tend to side with you, but his entire career is sort of tainted by that. I think the integrity of the game--i.e. no fixing--is such a sensitive issue that Rose is a unique case.

Vacated wins are quite the collective fiction. They don't even hold up the length of one article. Nice to see some punishment beyond vacated wins.

Huh ... non sports fans? Most of the ones I know care a LOT about shit like this and the HOF debates etc. People still seriously care that Pete Rose is not in the HOF. Seriously!

Correct me if I'm wrong, but how on earth could that be worse than NOT HAVING A FOOTBALL PROGRAM AT ALL. A decade recruiting ban vs. a 5 year death penalty? I think the latter wins hands down for strength of punishment.

Easy. You come back in a few years and you still have the honor of having the winningest coach in the history of college football. SMU has been back since 2005.

I fully agree with the Freeh report that Joe had a hand in the cover up, but how does taking down his statue fix the culture at the school that allowed it all to happen?

What are you on about? It says "this was not a good man. we should not honor him." Leaving it up condones his behavior. Really, what is confusing about that?

While we're at it, can we please vacate "winningest" from our lexicon of acceptable vocabulary?

Give me a better word.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:41 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm just wondering, from the totally bloodless perspective of legal formalism, what the NCAA's justification for this penalty is. What happened seems so far outside their jurisdictional purview I can't imagine they actually have the rules to cover it.

Here is the Division I Manual. This might cover the bowl suspension, at least:

18.7.2.2 Contest Status. [FBS] A contest shall be licensed only if it serves the purpose of providing a national contest between deserving teams. ... when forfeiture of a regular season football victory is required by the Committee on Infractions or a conference, or is self-imposed by an institution as a result of a violation of NCAA rules, neither of the competing institutions may count that contest in satisfying the definition of a “deserving team.”
posted by Egg Shen at 10:44 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks Bulgaroktonos. I still have questions about how this well this sort of thing would work from a legal formalist perspective in practice, but in this case, good enough for me.
posted by gerryblog at 10:45 AM on July 23, 2012


The fervency of the fandom is both the cause and product of the system that placed football above petty concerns like child rape.

Collective punishment is never just nor warranted, even if you really don't like sports. Also, with punishment, there must be the option of redemption and rehabilitation. This goes for people and organizations.

The program committed egregious crimes, and the program is punished. Just because it's difficult understand the technical aspects involved with the punishment doesn't make it insincere - it's actually pretty brutal, and probably worse than the "death penalty." It just doesn't have the same snappy name, and it takes a number of individual measures rather than a giant ban-hammer, but man, sometimes the scalpel can do far more damage than an axe. It demotes and humiliates football at Pen State in a real and lasting way... barring the team outright would not have the same lasting effect, and to be blunt, they'd just grease a few wheels to get a long death sentence lifted.

There's nothing to grease, here. It's a solid wall that keeps reminding those involved why they're not allowed to play big games like they used to, and why they cannot simply wish it away with big-money lobbying. It's a head-on-a-spike warning to other programs, too - we won't make you sit out a year or two and recruit on the sly. We will actively humble you, and shred all of your achievements and aspirations.

Also, this is the beginning, and not the end, of Penn State's punishment. The feds and the civil courts will definitely have their way.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:47 AM on July 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Thanks, EggShen. To be clear, IANAL, but I find the potential side effects of this whole affair to be worth considering.

when forfeiture of a regular season football victory is required by the Committee on Infractions or a conference, or is self-imposed by an institution as a result of a violation of NCAA rules, neither of the competing institutions may count that contest in satisfying the definition of a “deserving team.”

Does the present circumstance fit there? My understanding is that the 'unprecedented' nature of this whole issue allowed Mark Emmert to bypass the Committee on Infractions. And again, I haven't seen anything about NCAA rules being broken.

Perhaps I'm too cynical because of the Atlantic article (the one that stubie linked to earlier), but this just has the smell of using a crisis to shore up power by a pretty questionable institution.

Which makes me wonder how much this could all hold up in the courts/arbitration. I'm guessing Penn State wouldn't dare risk the negative PR for fighting it, and I'm sure the NCAA knows that.
posted by graphnerd at 10:52 AM on July 23, 2012


For the long-time college football fans in the room, I offer you this, which made me spit-take.
posted by dw at 10:53 AM on July 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


mediated self: "The Paterno family would've been wise to remain quiet these last couple of weeks. Their defensiveness has demonstrated a total lack of perspective. When the statue was removed they released a statement saying "this doesn't help the victims," but they refuse to acknowledge that neither did JoePa."

Its pretty obvious they've hired some ass PR person who thinks his/her value added is in writing out press releases responses to everything rather than just advising them to just shut the fuck up.
posted by stratastar at 10:56 AM on July 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think this is a good punishment. You have to understand that the PSU brand wasn't just about winning (they haven't been nationally relevant in years). It was about the idea of winning with integrity and high moral and academic standards. Paterno called it the "Grand Experiment." Their motto is "We are Penn State." In short, we are better than you.

This punishment guts the team for the next year, and cripples it at least 8-10 years, It delivers a stinging rebuke to Paterno's legacy. In short, it attacks the very concept of PSU as a special place. Now they'll be just another middling team with a scandal, with nothing to martyr. And they'll have no one to blame but their own gods.
posted by snickerdoodle at 10:59 AM on July 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


As for what Emmert did here -- it's extralegal by the rules, yes. He had to get consent from the executive board (which he got, unanimously) to put these penalties in place. None of them are unusual -- teams are often fined, stripped of post-season appearances, and have wins vacated all the time. USC, for example, had a similar punishment for the Reggie Bush case (though with less money and a shorter bowl ban).

But what's clear between the lines is that the NCAA AND Penn State wanted to be rid of this scandal. Doing a completely new investigation would drag the process out another 6 months, then there would be the hearings, and the reponses, and sometime next year they may finally get around to issuing essentially the same punishments we just saw. And it'll hang like a cloud over the NCAA and college sports in general until the tension is resolved.

And Penn State's leadership wants to move on, needs to move on. They see what's coming next -- the tens, maybe hundreds of millions they'll have to pay out to victims; the possibility of losing federal financial aid support from their Clery Act violations; an immense amount of rebuilding and realigning the Penn State image for what is, honestly, one of the better public universities in the US.

I don't think the NCAA would have acted today unless Penn State had essentially begged for a plea deal. Yes, it's outside of their purview, but at the same time the NCAA inserted themselves into an almost-equal case of moral turpitude with the Baylor basketball scandal. It's not that different from what they can enforce. And they had to act.
posted by dw at 11:02 AM on July 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


Thanks Bulgaroktonos. I still have questions about how this well this sort of thing would work from a legal formalist perspective in practice, but in this case, good enough for me.
posted by gerryblog at 12:45 PM on July 23


Well, if your asking from a jurisprudential viewpoint, I don't think you can get real far from a formalism standpoint--the NCAA rules do not approach necessary and sufficient conditions. But you could look at this from John Austin's command theory of law or legal positivism: law is a command, declared by a lawgiver (or sovereign) covering a range of actions with the power of enforcement. Here, the NCAA is a lawgiver who makes a command and has a power of enforcement. Or by H.L. Hart's rule of recognition that we recognize certain bodies as having the authority to make rules.

Of course, both of those theories depend in part on agreeing to the authority of the body giving the command or appreciating the power of enforcement. As long as Penn St. recognizes NCAA as a lawgiver or having the authority, it will need to follow NCAA's decisions on enforcement and the NCAA has "the jurisdiction" to enforce this. (I'm setting aside a different and dicey issue about antitrust law)

From a practical aspect, Penn St. could just give the NCAA the bird and leave the organization and ignore everything the NCAA says. If Penn St. did so, the capacity for the NCAA to go to court to enforce a punishment is practically nil (although, theoretically there might be some contractual claim they could make). But Penn St. isn't going to get real far anywhere trying to argue the arbitrary and vague rules of the NCAA as being insufficient to warrant punishment in this instance.
posted by dios at 11:10 AM on July 23, 2012


From a practical aspect, Penn St. could just give the NCAA the bird and leave the organization and ignore everything the NCAA says. If Penn St. did so, the capacity for the NCAA to go to court to enforce a punishment is practically nil (although, theoretically there might be some contractual claim they could make).

No, the NCAA could toss them wholesale out of the NCAA. It's a membership organization, and they can exclude any university for not following the rules. And while that would mean Penn State could do whatever they wanted, they'd have no one for their teams to play.

This was a standing threat by Oklahoma and a few other schools in the 80s. Ultimately, though, while Oklahoma and Alabama could bolt, no one would want to play in a college athletics organization OU and UA controlled.
posted by dw at 11:16 AM on July 23, 2012


Punishing the players and the fans, who did nothing wrong? Seriously? This is kind of bullshit.

Aw, the poor fans. Won't someone think of the spectators?

Seriously?
posted by MissySedai at 11:21 AM on July 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


It seems like they've done a pretty good job of punishing the program and not other people.

Players who are caught up in the program now have outs to go to other schools, or stay at Penn to finish their degrees. I imagine the players hoping to be drafted will do the former (and if they're that good, I'd assume other schools would be happy to take them) and the ones who regarded football as a way to get an education will do the latter. Neither group seems like they'll be overly damaged by this.

Players who might join the program in the future would do so knowing full well what they were getting (chance to go to Penn, shitty football program with limited chance of glory or NFL draft).

Players who used to go to Penn have had their team's achievements technically erased, but any of them who went on to pro careers still have those careers and anyone who didn't, well, this isn't going to make a difference to them except in a theoretical sense.

Students who aren't part of the football program are getting the punishment of, oh my god, having to cheer for a less good football team. If anyone regards that as "punishment", they need to get a grip. Hell, I went to a school whose football team only won one game the entire time I went there, and I don't think that negatively affected my education in any way.

I feel a little bit for businesses in and around the school who might suffer from a downturn in football related visitors, but then, they've been benefiting from a football program that fosters child abuse for the last 15 years, and I don't imagine too many of them are anxious to donate their game weekend profits from those years to child abuse causes. And while I'm sure game weekend upticks in business certainly helped those businesses, I'd assume they were also viable businesses for much of the other 45 weeks a year, so they should manage to keep on keeping on.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:27 AM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


From a practical aspect, Penn St. could just give the NCAA the bird and leave the organization and ignore everything the NCAA says. If Penn St. did so, the capacity for the NCAA to go to court to enforce a punishment is practically nil (although, theoretically there might be some contractual claim they could make). But Penn St. isn't going to get real far anywhere trying to argue the arbitrary and vague rules of the NCAA as being insufficient to warrant punishment in this instance.

They could ban them from competing with other NCAA teams. Any NCAA team that played them would also be banned.

The NCAA is not a "sovereign" or law-giving body of any kind. It is a voluntary association. Its rules have nothing to do with law.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:28 AM on July 23, 2012


If they no longer want to play at Penn State, they can transfer without the customary 1-year waiting period. The current players might be inconvenienced, but they are not screwed.

I consider the having to leave your friends the screwed part. Of course they don't have to, but if they want a chance at playing professionally they've got to be a lot more visible than Penn is going to be for the next few years.

You make a lot of lasting friends in your first few years of college, not to mention bonding with your teammates. Being barely 20 and faced with tearing that apart definitely sucks, if not rising to the actual level of screwed.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:30 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


The NCAA is a private organization and it owes zero duty of due process beyond what in contractually agrees to.

Yes, I mentioned that they don't have to, but they should because due process is often essential to our conception of justice. If you give people who want to excuse Paterno a valid reason to see the punishment as less just, they will take it.


This has nothing to do with justice. It is about a private organization enforcing its rules on its members.

Justice is being meted out by the state and will be also a part of dozens of lawsuits that will name the University.

I could care less about those who want to excuse Paterno. Only a fool would excuse him.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:31 AM on July 23, 2012


I'm a lifelong Ohio State football and basketball fan, and I and most every fan I know has brushed our feelings about the recent trouble that our team has been in under the rug and continued to be fans. I'm not sure that I've made my peace with that entirely, but that's where I stand and where most Buckeye fans stand, at least the ones that I know. But if this Penn State situation were the case at OSU, I can't imagine continuing on. I can't imagine putting on the apparel ever again, walking into the stadium, buying my hot dog. Talking or caring about the team, are you kidding me? People are going to go out in the world wearing Penn State football jerseys on Saturdays this fall? How could you?

I would hope for the death penalty if it were my team.

Side note: let me tell you, as someone with vacated wins experience: no one cares about vacated wins. The wins happened. I have never met an Ohio State fan who said, 'Oh we had to vacate our win over Michigan in 2010, too bad we didn't really beat them that year, what a bummer.' We beat them. I watched it. It happened. It doesn't really matter what the record books say. As a sanction, it's toothless from my perspective.
posted by Kwine at 11:31 AM on July 23, 2012


Egg Shen: "Perhaps cheering the football team in particular could wait at least until the serial child rapist it harbored is sentenced for his crimes."

Your arbitrary point at which it's okay to cheer for the football team again is no better than anyone else's. The power of the football team as an institution certainly contributed to the crimes, but that power has been decimated. We can either let the program wither on the vine and die, or we can let it grow back again and see if it's able to grow into something praiseworthy, or at least something innocuous.

I think that one's individual opinion of college athletics in general is doing most of the work in that equation, and I frankly have my own concerns about whether any good institutions can thrive in the NCAA as presently-constituted, but I'm willing to give it a shot while we try to improve the system itself.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:34 AM on July 23, 2012


The NCAA is not a "sovereign" or law-giving body of any kind. It is a voluntary association. Its rules have nothing to do with law.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:28 PM on July 23


Ironmouth: you may want to re-read what I wrote if you think you are disagreeing with me. I think you miss the point of what I was saying and what I was responding there to. I think my point pretty plainly was premised on the idea of voluntary association.
posted by dios at 11:36 AM on July 23, 2012


Ohio State fan who said, 'Oh we had to vacate our win over Michigan'

I'm not sure a Wolverine-Buckeye game is a good example. Either side could have brought a sniper to the game and their side would still be celebrating the win. :-)
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:37 AM on July 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


just a side note...Penn State is usually abbreviated as PSU (it's the Pennsylvania State University).
the University of Pennsylvania is usually abbreviated as Penn.
posted by sio42 at 11:47 AM on July 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Kwine: "But if this Penn State situation were the case at OSU, I can't imagine continuing on. I can't imagine putting on the apparel ever again, walking into the stadium, buying my hot dog. Talking or caring about the team, are you kidding me? People are going to go out in the world wearing Penn State football jerseys on Saturdays this fall? How could you?"

Certainly, an event like this takes all the fun out of being a fan for all but the most dead-ender of dead-enders.

I'm going to watch the games for awhile and see what kind of team Bill O'Brien can build with the deck stacked so high against him. If he builds a good team that plays hard every Saturday, and if the NCAA system as a whole improves, I can imagine in 5-10 years rekindling the level of passion I used to have for the team. Absent either of these, I'll probably lose interest and pour the balance of my sports fandom into the other teams I follow.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:48 AM on July 23, 2012


This may have been mentioned in the older thread (and probably was), and perhaps it's somewhat trite to say, but no amount of punishment to the PSU football program would satisfy me as much as Joe Paterno being alive to suffer the public shame and humiliation (and potential criminal charges) for his (in)actions, and complete lack of ethics, morals, and decency.
posted by ssmug at 11:50 AM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Paterno is a true humanitarian. Thanks to him, we can know that Satan made sure Hell was wired for cable TV this morning, that the signal was clear, and that every ESPN channel was available.
posted by localroger at 11:50 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


This has nothing to do with justice.

That is what the critics will say, Yes.

Justice is being meted out by the state and will be also a part of dozens of lawsuits that will name the University.

This is like one of those conversations where someone insists it can't be censorship if it doesn't come from the state. Justice is not only a term for government procedures.

jus·tice/ˈjəstis/
Noun:

Just behavior or treatment.
The quality of being fair and reasonable.

posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:55 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


But now that the presser is done, they're just playing reruns of that Texas/San Francisco "Bush Bowl" game with commentary by Joes Theismann and Buck.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:55 AM on July 23, 2012


While we're at it, can we please vacate "winningest" from our lexicon of acceptable vocabulary?
Give me a better word.


Not everything needs a single word description. "With the most wins" does just fine.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:56 AM on July 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Justice is being meted out by the state and will be also a part of dozens of lawsuits that will name the University.
This is like one of those conversations where someone insists it can't be censorship if it doesn't come from the state.


I think that may be a bit of a harsh way to view this particular discussion. Whether or not you consider the NCAA's actions to be just, the state will in fact be handing out justice in the matter. Or at least we presume.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 12:00 PM on July 23, 2012


The enthusiasm for collective punishment is despressing, but predictable.
posted by joseppi7 at 12:04 PM on July 23, 2012


The enthusiasm for strawmanning, likewise.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:04 PM on July 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


Whether or not you consider the NCAA's actions to be just, the state will in fact be handing out justice in the matter.

It is not in dispute that the state will be involved, under debate is the suggestion that justice has nothing to do with the NCAA sanctions. I can't see how it would be just for the NCAA not to punish the football program.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:04 PM on July 23, 2012


And if the case went to trial ...

I suspect that attorneys for PSU are advising that they settle all claims so as to minimize the continuing fallout. PSU is certainly 'behind the eight ball' in their negotiating stance.
posted by ericb at 12:10 PM on July 23, 2012


Give me a better word.

Hmm, winningest.

If you could settle for two you'll find that "most successful" need not overly stress you for syllables.
posted by jaduncan at 12:12 PM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


"success" is subjective (highest graduation rate, most national championships, etc.) "most wins" is not.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:13 PM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


but I agree that's the best way to put it without "winningest"
posted by mrgrimm at 12:14 PM on July 23, 2012


I can't see how it would be just for the NCAA not to punish the football program.

To me it's a question of punishment being handed down by the appropriate entities. Obviously, this is just an awful situation that would not exist were it not for an athletic program, but I don't know that it necessarily follows that the NCAA should be involved in the discipline here.

This falls so far outside the bounds of what they typically deal with (pay-for-play scandals, academic eligibility, etc.) that the organization's involvement sets them up to have even more influence on member institutions.

Personally, I wish that the Pennsylvania legislature would just come in and impose its own death penalty on the football program. But I can't imagine any elected officials in the state daring to do that.
posted by graphnerd at 12:14 PM on July 23, 2012


halfway down, and not enough people have noted that the $60 mill will go towards mitigating abuse.

this is what makes the decision better than an outright death penalty, because now at least money from their football program will go towards something we know 100% will benefit victims of sexual assault. the argument that a 5 year ban would change the culture is a stretch - i'm with you, it seems plausible, but people/culture/life is not that simple. we dont know that would have made a change we'd have been happy with.

now, we know victims will benefit; this decision appears to get a little closer to justice.
posted by victory_laser at 12:18 PM on July 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


but I don't know that it necessarily follows that the NCAA should be involved in the discipline here.

The point of the NCAA is to preserve the integrity of the US collegiate athletics program - whether that's through preserving the safety of players, presererving the economic integrity of sports programs, or preserving the integrity of the relationship between the program and it's fans. In this case, Sandusky used his relationship with Penn State and with the NCAA to groom child rape victims, and the program, whether passively or actively, allowed that to continue. I think this sort of scandal has been out of the puview of the NCAA because it is unusual for a college sports program to be so willfully, institutionally blind to the damage done by a child rapist in their midst.
posted by muddgirl at 12:18 PM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


And I should add that a big part of the concern is that they apparently didn't commission their own investigation into what happened at Penn State, and instead just relied on the Freeh Report.

Now, that might seem reasonable at this point (I don't think anyone can really doubt that the whole Sandusky incident is a massive moral and ethical failure), but what about future cases where things aren't so black-and-white? Will the NCAA president have single-handed authority to effectively shut down programs without appeals or even a proper consideration of evidence?
posted by graphnerd at 12:18 PM on July 23, 2012


now, i guess they could have done both a death penalty AND an allocated fine. what im saying is, it's really really good that made it in there. smart move.
posted by victory_laser at 12:19 PM on July 23, 2012


graphnerd - the rumor is that the Penn State Board of Trustees negotiated a quick ruling. I think that's where the concept of 'due process' in associations like this falls apart - if both the NCAA and Penn State want a quick ruling based on currently available evidence, then isn't that just? What party is harmed in this instance? The 'legacy' of Joe Paterno?
posted by muddgirl at 12:22 PM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Will the NCAA president have single-handed authority to effectively shut down programs without appeals or even a proper consideration of evidence?

They make the rules, and membership in the NCAA is voluntary. And if the school comes to the NCAA - as is rumored here - and says please don't kill us, we'll do anything you want, then okay.

It wouldn't be in the NCAA's interest to be (seen as) too arbitrary or heavy-handed, at least in cases that involved more run-of-the-mill violations (recruiting etc.). As has been mentioned about, another investigation, on top of the Freeh report, would drag things out for at least through the next football season, and possibly longer, and that doesn't necessarily serve anyone (officials, athletes, teams scheduled to play Penn State, etc.) any better.

On preview: what muddgirl said.
posted by rtha at 12:25 PM on July 23, 2012


Those who think the sanctions are too harsh may want to review:

Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act

Good cases could be made for fraud and obstruction of justice. There were tens of millions of dollars at stake. Witnesses certainly felt intimidated. This is leaving out any stretching toward Sandusky's crimes, which could include obsenity, kidnapping, slavery (remember his adopted son).

I'm not advocating, and I think prosecution under the act is unlikely. But there was a conspiracy by the organization's leaders, and it takes two of the crimes being committed within ten years to fall under RICO. This looks like it qualifies.
posted by dragonsi55 at 12:29 PM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Muddgirl,

I think I've been pretty clear that I'm not at all concerned with the fairness for anyone at Penn State... especially Paterno's legacy.

And you're right that the fact that it might've been a negotiated settlement removes any question there.

I can't point to any particular 'harmed party', but I do think that the NCAA does have way too much power as it is, and adding more doesn't help. rtha, you can say that it's a voluntary association, but it really isn't. Legal questions aside, it's effectively a monopoly: institutions have to be members in order to compete in (highly lucrative) mainstream college athletics.
posted by graphnerd at 12:32 PM on July 23, 2012


This may have been mentioned in the older thread (and probably was), and perhaps it's somewhat trite to say, but no amount of punishment to the PSU football program would satisfy me as much as Joe Paterno being alive to suffer the public shame and humiliation (and potential criminal charges) for his (in)actions, and complete lack of ethics, morals, and decency.
posted by ssmug at 11:50 AM on July 23


Not to mention watching his legacy torn to shreds.

This, sadly, would probably cause him more pain than the shame of his complete disregard for the welfare of others, since it's already been established that he valued football over compassion.
posted by ssmug at 12:33 PM on July 23, 2012


dragonsi55: "Those who think the sanctions are too harsh may want to review:

Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act
"

I think the point many are making is that the harshness of these sanctions is not in lieu of prosecution under RICO or any other criminal statue. Federal and state investigations don't stop because the NCAA's Wheel of Justice stopped spinning. It's possible to simultaneously believe that the NCAA went too far (either because one doesn't believe all of the sanctions are fair, or that the NCAA isn't in a position to administer them) but also that the Feds/states should lay the hammer down on individuals and institutions.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:34 PM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


tonycpsu: "criminal statue"

Hah.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:36 PM on July 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


The NCAA requires that coaching staff and operators not be convicted or currently charged with a felony and requires that coaches submit for a background check to certify this:
Individuals convicted of a felony are prohibited from receiving a participant approval number from LexisNexis and will not be permitted to operate or coach at an NCAA certified event/league. Additionally, a sex offense, regardless of the charge level, will result in a denial of the participant approval application. Active criminal cases (including traffic violations) will also result in a denial if the case is within the last seven years. (pdf)
In addition, according to the Division I bylaws coaching staff and administration are responsible for vetting external organizations that do promotion for the team. Athletics staff are also expected to maintain high ethical standards on and off the field.

Will the NCAA president have single-handed authority to effectively shut down programs without appeals or even a proper consideration of evidence?

It's a consent decree negotiated with Penn State.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 12:36 PM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


institutions have to be members in order to compete in (highly lucrative) mainstream college athletics.

But they don't have to compete. Or, they don't have to compete at Div 1. Or, they don't have to offer scholarships (my college didn't, and still fielded lots of athletic teams). There are a lot of choices schools can make.
posted by rtha at 12:38 PM on July 23, 2012


You know, this isn't exactly a side note, because the reason this confusion reigns is because the NCAA has been one ginormous money grab for the last few decades. Penn State was not historically in the Big 10, but they joined because it was financially lucrative. The Big 8 became the Big 12, but now has shrunk because other new powers, e.g., the Big 10 (which continues to use the name because of its branding power), have stolen teams away. It's all about money and power. As was this scandal.

The NCAA had nothing to do with that. Conference realignment is all about the BCS conferences and their TV deals. If you hate the NCAA and want an image of the kind of shitty awful greed-based world that would exist without the NCAA, look at conference realignment and the shitty fraudulent scam world that is the whole BCS bowl setup.

People blame the NCAA way too much, way too quickly, and fail to consider what college athletics would look like without the NCAA. It's kind of fascinatingly parallel to libertarianism and just as stupid.
posted by fleacircus at 12:38 PM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


you know what?

i just googled to find out when sandusky adopted the adult son who has now said he too was molested.

the very first google result for "when did sandusky adopt" is from CNN that says "Matt Sandusky, one of six adopted children of Jerry Sandusky, said..."

how on earth did Paterno and everyone else NEVER EVER EVER say anything to anyone when these adoptions were taking place?
posted by sio42 at 12:38 PM on July 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


Forgive me, I can't see if this is asked already, but, what happens to the records of the teams that "lost" to Penn State?

Do they suddenly have better past seasons/records?

posted by mmrtnt at 12:39 PM on July 23, 2012


"Football will never again be placed ahead of educating, nurturing and protecting young people," Emmert said.
Riiiiiight....
posted by mike_bling at 12:40 PM on July 23, 2012


institutions have to be members in order to compete in (highly lucrative) mainstream college athletics.

Many institutions of higher learning DON'T participate in highly lucrative college athletics. Say, all Div III teams. Most Div II teams. Maybe even a plurality of Div I teams. Any team not associated with the NCAA.

Look, I think the way that the NCAA operates can be problematic. For example. In fact, I find the entire "market" of Div. I college sports to be exploitative of most televised athletes. But I don't think these sanctions are an example of that, and I think that they are doing the right thing in sanctioning the organization which covered up child rape and allowed a rapist to groom victims on their campus, using their facilities.

It sort of seems like arguing that, since states disproportionately imprison black criminals, and give black people longer sentences than white people with similar crimes, we should protest any state action to penalize any criminal.
posted by muddgirl at 12:40 PM on July 23, 2012


People blame the NCAA way too much, way too quickly, and fail to consider what college athletics would look like without the NCAA.

Good point. Undoubtedly many aspects of the fucked-up Div. I system would be worse without a governing body.
posted by muddgirl at 12:41 PM on July 23, 2012


But they don't have to compete. Or, they don't have to compete at Div 1. Or, they don't have to offer scholarships (my college didn't, and still fielded lots of athletic teams). There are a lot of choices schools can make.

That's easy to say from the outside. But the millions of dollars of direct funds (and in some cases) hundreds of millions of indirect funds from alumni donations and exposure that come through big time sports really change the calculus.
posted by graphnerd at 12:41 PM on July 23, 2012


So the love of money is the root of evil? Quite a compelling argument.
posted by muddgirl at 12:43 PM on July 23, 2012


Do they suddenly have better past seasons/records?

No. What happens is that in the list of winners of games, Vacated appears instead of Penn State. It doesn't become a win for the other team, and other team win/loss records are not affected.

Player statistics also don't change. Win/loss records tend to matter a lot more for coaches and programs than for individual players, who tend to be graded on scoring, yards gained or lost, and so on.
posted by localroger at 12:46 PM on July 23, 2012


muddgirl: " It sort of seems like arguing that, since states disproportionately imprison black criminals, and give black people longer sentences than white people with similar crimes, we should protest any state action to penalize any criminal."

I don't think that complaining about the NCAA is an argument against the existence of another entity that oversees college athletics, just that the one we have is corrupt, possibly beyond repair.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:49 PM on July 23, 2012


So the love of money is the root of evil? Quite a compelling argument.

That's a pretty disingenuous read on what I was saying. I'm not talking about an individual person's greed. I'm talking about very large institutions that have specific institutional and educational goals that require resources to achieve. And when you're talking about major college programs (BCS level), hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake.

Whether or not that should be the case is a an entirely different question. But to suggest that because some schools can simply make a decision to opt out of competitive, revenue-generating athletics means that the situation is the same everywhere is a massive oversimplification.
posted by graphnerd at 12:50 PM on July 23, 2012


That's easy to say from the outside. But the millions of dollars of direct funds (and in some cases) hundreds of millions of indirect funds from alumni donations and exposure that come through big time sports really change the calculus.

Okay? But I don't see what that has to do with the NCAA handing down this penalty to Penn State.

I'm talking about very large institutions that have specific institutional and educational goals that require resources to achieve.


A huge percentage of Div 1 teams cost their schools money. As for furthering educational goals, this is totally doable without spending a kabillion dollars on a new football stadium, even if lots of the money comes from boosters.
posted by rtha at 12:52 PM on July 23, 2012


I'm talking about very large institutions that have specific institutional and educational goals that require resources to achieve. And when you're talking about major college programs (BCS level), hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake.

And my point is that many schools manage to meet those specific institutional and educational goals without the resources provided by BCS-level football and basketball teams.

I don't think that complaining about the NCAA is an argument against the existence of another entity that oversees college athletics, just that the one we have is corrupt, possibly beyond repair.

The NCAA isn't the only organization that oversees college athletics in the US (the NAIA, the NJCAA), and the only evidence of corruption I've seen in this thread is a screed that confuses punishment for criminal actions with punishment for unethical actions.
posted by muddgirl at 12:58 PM on July 23, 2012


I hope everyone praising these sanctions realizes that this is SOP for the NCAA and is probably a step backwards from actually fixing any systemic problems.

The NCAA exists to maintain the status quo. Its entire reason for being is to protect the money factory of big time college athletics. These sanctions, like everything else the NCAA does, were imposed with that goal in mind, not for any sense of "justice" or "punishment".

The NCAA turns a blind eye towards any kind of violation (it often allows school to punish themselves) until the scandal is so big that it starts generating national media attention. At this point it comes down hard; fines, vacated wins, loss of scholarships. This is to promote the idea that the NCAA has everything under control, everyone please move along, nothing to see here, hey look a bowl game. Meanwhile, every other college coach and AD knows that the odds are in their favor -- the vast majority of offenses aren't noticed, and the majority of those that are found out get a slap on the wrist.

In a way, these sanctions might even be exacerbating the problem (the problem the NCAA should be solving, that university communities care more about football than child abuse). By vacating wins/banning postseason play/etc, the implied message is that win records and bowl games are SO IMPORTANT that the worst thing we can do is take them away. This is backed up by pictures I've seen of Penn State students crying today after hearing of the punishment. We need to be moving in the opposite direction -- we need to be reminding people that wins don't really matter compared to human beings, and I think that message is not being sent to the major college football programs today.

Please don't get me wrong -- I don't give a shit about the PSU football program. They can ban it permanently for all I care. The top football players will transfer to other schools and still get their shot at the pros, and the scrubs will organize an informal football league and somehow manage to survive.

But I think lots of people who don't follow college sports are getting played by the NCAA today. When the NCAA starts talking about capping coach salaries, increasing (and enforcing) minimum academic standards for student athletes, distributing the money from TV deals evenly among all NCAA schools, and god forbid giving student athletes a yearly stipend -- then we can talk about whether we're addressing the problems that led to the Penn State scandal. Today isn't that day.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 1:02 PM on July 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


This is what the site where the JoePa statue was looks like now. They should leave it like that forever. But put up some barricade so people can't get there to leave stand-up JoePa's, flowers, candles, pictures, PSU teddy bears, and all that other crap.

http://img.gawkerassets.com/img/17tpsau26uouzjpg/original.jpg
posted by old_growler at 1:02 PM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


muddgirl: "the only evidence of corruption I've seen in this thread is a screed that confuses punishment for criminal actions with punishment for unethical actions."

Did you read the Atlantic article mentioned stubie's post above?
posted by tonycpsu at 1:03 PM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Did you read the Atlantic article mentioned stubie's post above?

I actually read that article the first time it made the rounds. I don't think that's in any way condemning the NCAA as a singularly corrupt part of the college athletic system - it's condemning the fact that universities see their programs as money-making opportunities, rather than as a necessary component to a well-rounded liberal arts education. The NCAA comes of as more impotent than corrupt.
posted by muddgirl at 1:10 PM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


muddgirl: " I actually read that article the first time it made the rounds. I don't think that's in any way condemning the NCAA as a singularly corrupt part of the college athletic system - it's condemning the fact that universities see their programs as money-making opportunities, rather than as a necessary component to a well-rounded liberal arts education. The NCAA comes of as more impotent than corrupt."

I'm not sure we read the same article, then.

Is that the same impotent NCAA that just critically wounded the PSU football program, and could have finished it off if it wanted to?
posted by tonycpsu at 1:13 PM on July 23, 2012


Or maybe not incompetent, but profiting off the exploitating of others, which is a foundation of the US capitalist system, and not generally seen as a sign of corruption.
posted by muddgirl at 1:14 PM on July 23, 2012


(1) It didn't critically wound the PSU football program.
(2) The only school to get the death penalty for their football program still fields a football team. Their program is not 'finished off.'

Doesn't this sort of hyperbolic language elevate the importance of BCS football, contributing to NCAA profitability?
posted by muddgirl at 1:16 PM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


how on earth did Paterno and everyone else NEVER EVER EVER say anything to anyone when these adoptions were taking place?

That's one of the uglier chapters of this whole sordid story. Matthew's mother, Debra Long protested both Matthew's foster placement in the Sandusky house and eventual adoption starting around '95. But, it was the word of a single, poor, disadvantaged mother vs. beloved assistant coach and philanthropist. Sadly, Matthew's case probably can't be prosecuted given that he recanted his grand jury testimony. But it's likely a moot point because even one or two convictions were a probable life sentence for Sandusky.

Prosecutors did a fair job of providing independent documentation in support of many of their victims, so it's not as if there were not allegations or suspicions floating around.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 1:17 PM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


muddgirl: " Doesn't this sort of hyperbolic language elevate the importance of BCS football, contributing to NCAA profitability?"

The NCAA has the power to ban any school from competing in any sport for any duration of time. Because they chose not to go any further with SMU and stopped short of canceling games with Penn State doesn't mean they lack the power to do so.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:21 PM on July 23, 2012


Sadly, Matthew's case probably can't be prosecuted given that he recanted his grand jury testimony. But it's likely a moot point because even one or two convictions were a probable life sentence for Sandusky.
It would be a nice way to prove incompetence on the agency's part, though.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:22 PM on July 23, 2012


The NCAA has the power to ban any school from competing in any sport for any duration of time.

I've stated this several times - there are several different college athletic organizations. As far as I know, blacklisting is illegal in the United States. The NCAA can prevent an organization from competeting in the NCAA, but I would be surprised if it could prohibit them from competing in other associations.
posted by muddgirl at 1:28 PM on July 23, 2012



I've stated this several times - there are several different college athletic organizations. As far as I know, blacklisting is illegal in the United States. The NCAA can prevent an organization from competeting in the NCAA, but I would be surprised if it could prohibit them from competing in other associations.


Apart from the NRA (pistol & rifle), what other organizations do collegiate sports?
posted by ocschwar at 1:31 PM on July 23, 2012


I've stated this several times - there are several different college athletic organizations. As far as I know, blacklisting is illegal in the United States. The NCAA can prevent an organization from competeting in the NCAA, but I would be surprised if it could prohibit them from competing in other associations.

Those organizations are in no way comparable. The difference between the NAIA and the NCAA is absolutely one of kind, not one of degree. The level of competition, exposure, and most importantly, resources that come along with membership are just fundamentally different.

It's completely legitimate to say that college athletics should really be about student-athletes and that academics should be the driving force. But that just isn't the reality of the situation. And in every practical way, many institutions don't have the simple choice of "I'd prefer to drop NCAA membership because the NAIA is more pure".

Maybe some do, but for many, many schools, doing so would entail taking on a massive cost that would threaten huge parts of the institution.
posted by graphnerd at 1:36 PM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


snickerdoodle: "Their motto is "We are Penn State." In short, we are better than you."

The actual history of the "we are" slogan predates Joe Paterno's arrival on campus, and has nothing to do with being better than anyone -- in fact, it was about racial equality and team solidarity. Over time it took on a life of its own, and became intertwined with Joe Paterno's legacy, a legacy that at one time was actually worthy of praise, though not the worship/idolatry that came later.

As someone who's probably chanted those words a thousand times, I can tell you I never used it in the manner you're implying. School pride in general, and being a sports fan in particular, are irrational exercises partaken by many rational people who just want to have fun. Saying "we're number one", or "our team is better than your team" is not a statement of "we're better than you", it's a statement of "we're at a sporting event and your team is the enemy so GRAR watch us run the ball down your throat, and then when our team beats your team, we'll all go to the bar and drink together and look forward to beating your team again next year." Or at least that's what it was for me as an undergrad. It's mindless fun, not a statement of superiority.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:42 PM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I guess it's fine to argue that in general the NCAA might have too much power. I can't see why this argument is taking place in this thread, though, since I don't think that anyone is arguing that the NCAA overstepped in this case.
posted by rtha at 1:42 PM on July 23, 2012


rtha: "I don't think that anyone is arguing that the NCAA overstepped in this case."

Actually, I made that very argument up-thread. Not that the punishment they handed out wasn't the right one, but that while they have the power to do so, they lack the legal authority and the moral standing to do so.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:47 PM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


since I don't think that anyone is arguing that the NCAA overstepped in this case.

Do you mean anyone in this thread or anyone anywhere? Cuz a shitload of people are making that argument.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:54 PM on July 23, 2012


Huh. Read that the last "official" Penn State football win had Mike McQueary as the starting quarterback.
posted by CancerMan at 1:56 PM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'm also arguing that the NCAA (may have) overstepped in this case. Not at all in the severity of the punishment, but in how it was handled and who made the decisions.
posted by graphnerd at 1:57 PM on July 23, 2012


When the NCAA starts talking about capping coach salaries, increasing (and enforcing) minimum academic standards for student athletes, distributing the money from TV deals evenly among all NCAA schools, and god forbid giving student athletes a yearly stipend...

Actually, there has been talk of stipends for awhile. It's not the NCAA that's against it, it's the smaller conferences who can't afford to do these things. And the NCAA does have minimum standards, and has something called the APR scores that try to enforce them. The other things aren't really in the NCAA's purview, as the tv deals are negotiated by the conferences. If anything, the bowls and conferences themselves are responsible for calling the shots there.

tonycpsu: With all due respect, I've been following the PSU blogs for awhile, and I absolutely do see this attitude of superiority there. PSU has always been among a handful of schools that holds itself above other football powerhouses for non-athletic reasons (Notre Dame, Stanford, and Michigan being some of the others).

The problem is that at State College, this attitude existed in an isolated environment without sufficient checks that allowed Joe Paterno to become lionized. There is nothing wrong with pride and school spirit (and I say this as someone who has watched all of my team's games for almost ten years). However, when you find yourself in a place where you are making excuses for the facilitators of child rape, you're crossing a line.

As for whether the NCAA had authority... does it really matter? It's an agreement between two willing parties. This sort of hairsplitting smacks of denial.

Not saying it doesn't suck for the fans and the players who had nothing to do with this. But at least ten lives were devastated, and the PSU Board of Trustees had no idea what was going on. They didn't even know their own president had been subpoenaed. That is lack of institutional control, and that has to be punished.
posted by snickerdoodle at 1:58 PM on July 23, 2012


If the NCAA and Penn State have any decency, even a shred of integrity, remorse or belief in regaining standing, the Penn State football program, the carrot used by Sandusky to rape children, the monolith that intimidated good people from coming forward and doing the right thing and the financial jewel Paterno, Spanier, Schultz and Curley protected at all costs, should be indefinitely terminated.

... allowing Penn State football to survive and profit -- as if this were only about a couple of kids who cheated on an entrance exam -- says that all of the rhetoric about accountability and protecting children was just exhaust, that compared to the importance of football, the university didn't care then and doesn't care now about children being raped on its premises. It is to retain the culture of intimidation and invincibility that has brought Penn State to this place. If a massive institutional failure that allowed young boys to be sexually molested on campus does not constitute reasonable cause to terminate the program and force true reflection, true change and true reform, nothing can legitimately deserve that penalty. The fear of Janitor B to come forward as a whistleblower in the face of power would be justified. Penn State football would indeed be invincible.
posted by Egg Shen at 2:08 PM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


PSU has always been among a handful of schools that holds itself above other football powerhouses for non-athletic reasons (Notre Dame, Stanford, and Michigan being some of the others).


They were quite good at sweeping child rape and molestation under the rug. One could say they were number one at it. Don't believe me, believe the person PSU hired to review the situation, the former FBI director.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:08 PM on July 23, 2012


snickerdoodle: "tonycpsu: With all due respect, I've been following the PSU blogs for awhile, and I absolutely do see this attitude of superiority there. PSU has always been among a handful of schools that holds itself above other football powerhouses for non-athletic reasons (Notre Dame, Stanford, and Michigan being some of the others)."

Can you unpack the "non-athletic reasons" thing a bit? I'm proud of my school for many non-athletic reasons. If you're getting at the moral superiority thing, look, Joe Paterno did things that were worthy of praise in a system where it was actually hard to do those things and still put a winning team on the field. If you see an institution doing something right, I see nothing wrong with cheering on that institution. When you see the institution do something so horrendously wrong as protecting a child rapist, you step back and re-evaluate. When I re-evaluate, what I see was that some people ceded their disciplinary authority to the football coach, and some university administrators let the football coach have a say in how a suspected child rapist would continue to have a role with the university. Those are awful things, but I still think it was right to be proud of a team that was trying to win games without breaking the rules.

"As for whether the NCAA had authority... does it really matter? It's an agreement between two willing parties. This sort of hairsplitting smacks of denial."

It's an agreement between one willing party with a gun and one willing party that doesn't want to get shot. I don't think it's hair-splitting to want the correct entities to hand out punishment. The right ends achieved through the wrong means isn't hair-splitting to me.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:17 PM on July 23, 2012


It's an agreement between one willing party with a gun and one willing party that doesn't want to get shot.

It's nothing like a mugging; it's more like a threat of divorce. If Penn State doesn't like the new deal, they can dissolve the relationship. But they won't, because they got a pretty light slap on the wrist and they know they were in the wrong.
posted by anotherpanacea at 2:26 PM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Those are awful things, but I still think it was right to be proud of a team that was trying to win games without breaking the rules.

They broke a big, big rule, the one about not being above the law. They acted like they were, in order to protect their legacy. This is the same justification used by coaches and ADs at schools where they break small rules, like recruiting and looking the other way when athletes get money from boosters.

Also, I'm sorry, but I can't cry any tears for Penn State suffering sanctions for things they themselves did. They're not an innocent drunk who wandered down the wrong alley for a pee and found a mugger instead.
posted by rtha at 2:29 PM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's an agreement between one willing party with a gun and one willing party that doesn't want to get shot.

At any time, Penn State can tell the NCAA to go fuck itself. It won't get shot. It won't even be raped in the shower. It can put JoePa's statue back up, play intra-squad games to cheering crowds, sell merchandise, you name it.

Oh, but it wants the financial benefits of competing under NCAA auspices? In that case, yeah, it can thank the NCAA for not imposing the death penalty it deserved and otherwise keep its mouth shut.
posted by Egg Shen at 2:30 PM on July 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


It's an agreement between one willing party with a gun and one willing party that doesn't want to get shot.

I'm confused. Is the party with the gun Sandusky raping the kids? Otherwise, I don't get it. Didn't PSU break the rules? Didn't PSU sweep under the rug that a coach there was molesting and raping children? Wasn't the head coach of PSU involved? Didn't a report by a former
FBI director say he was? Because that's what I thought.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:38 PM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ironmouth: "It's an agreement between one willing party with a gun and one willing party that doesn't want to get shot.

I'm confused. Is the party with the gun Sandusky raping the kids? Otherwise, I don't get it. Didn't PSU break the rules? Didn't PSU sweep under the rug that a coach there was molesting and raping children? Wasn't the head coach of PSU involved? Didn't a report by a former
FBI director say he was? Because that's what I thought.
"

As someone who volunteered at Second Mile events and actually met kids who may have been harmed by Jerry Sandusky, I'll be damned if I'm going to let you try to paint me as a sympathizer.

I was, of course, speaking specifically about the kind of "negotiation" that PSU found themselves in where they "agreed" to a punishment. The implication was that Penn State was fine with it, and of course they were fine with it only because they had no other options. Hence the gun to the head metaphor.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:44 PM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Unsurprisingly, the Atlantic has a good blog post about this today.

For those who are having a hard time seeing where tonycpsu, myself and others on the side of "the NCAA shouldn't have this power", that might be a worthwhile read.

I think the author does a bit of a disservice by falling into the "but some people will be unfairly punished" line of reasoning, but the choice bit for me is:
In doing so, however, it takes a sinister and dangerous step towards acquiring more power by dictating to a university what it must do with tens of millions of its own revenue and making it appear that it has broad, unspecified powers to impose moral authority.
posted by graphnerd at 2:50 PM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


the only school to get the death penalty for their football program still fields a football team. Their program is not 'finished off.'

SMU, up until the death penalty, was a nationally ranked power in college football. They regularly were a top five team in a superpower conference (the Southwest). They played in Texas Stadium, drew 50K or more a game, and were essentially Dallas' Second Pro Football Team.

Then the death penalty hit, and the program was shut down for two years. What came back was a shadow of the SMU that once was. They have finally recovered to the point they're going to bowls again, but it's not the Cotton Bowl but the GMAC Bowl. If you added up the athletic budgets of the 6 teams in their division of Conference USA, you would still fall way, way short of the $72M Penn State pulls in.

Had SMU not gone received the death penalty, things might have been different. They might have been able to push Texas Tech out of the way when the Big 12 started (having a team in Dallas itself is a valuable thing -- one reason the Big East, desperate to maintain relevance, scooped them up). They might not find themselves so hard-up for money the way they and Tulsa and Houston find themselves in right now. They might have been able to cleanse the stink of corrupt donors the way Texas and TCU and Texas A&M did -- without losing relevance.

We'll never know what happened had it just been a long, painful probation. What we do know is that the death penalty was the nuclear option, aimed at a small, private school that, while horribly corrupt with the governor of Texas himself waist-deep in the stink, wasn't doing much worse than what the big schools of the time -- Texas, A&M, Oklahoma, Alabama, Washington -- were doing. And all things considered, it truly was overkill.

And I'll point out that no major program has received the death penalty since, even though Alabama deserved it for the Albert Means case, even though Baylor deserved it for the murder case. The NCAA, however, has put Division II and III schools on the death penalty all the time, notably Morehouse for their soccer-team-that-wasn't. When people talk about the NCAA's double standard and uneven fairness, I don't think of the extraordinary punishment of Penn State. I think of Morehouse getting their athletic program getting shut down just because an intramural soccer team was calling itself what it wasn't.
posted by dw at 2:50 PM on July 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


..and yes, I meant no other options that still protected one of the university's profitable assets. Of course they'd be free to play scrimmage games in empty stadiums, and of course it was a self-interest decision for all involved, including the NCAA. I'd expect nothing less.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:50 PM on July 23, 2012


Then what's the complaint? Penn State and NCAA acted out self-interest to secure a deal. You expect nothing less, but you still call it a mugging?

I can't help thinking that you might be too close to this issue to think about it clearly. Consider taking a break: there's a lot of rhetoric floating around, but you're not helping it by introducing violent metaphors where Penn State is a victim and not a perpetrator.
posted by anotherpanacea at 2:57 PM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Or night games. Or the designated hitter rule.

If MLB were to vacate all wins "earned" under the designated hitter rule I wouldn't bat an eye.

Good call because that would be painful. And you might need that eye for the night games.
posted by futz at 3:05 PM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can you unpack the "non-athletic reasons" thing a bit? I'm proud of my school for many non-athletic reasons.

I meant that the football team is special not just because they win games. That they're not cheaters like those SEC schools. That they might not win national championships, but they don't take bribes or allow criminals or players who are illiterate on the field. That unlike the SEC, their players are selected not just for athletic ability, but for character as well. Every school talks a big game about it, but some schools believe it more than others. I don't think you'll ever find an LSU fan who describes their team in those terms, for instance.
posted by snickerdoodle at 3:24 PM on July 23, 2012


Then what's the complaint? Penn State and NCAA acted out self-interest to secure a deal. You expect nothing less, but you still call it a mugging?
posted by PugAchev at 3:27 PM on July 23, 2012


A quick search revealed that three players are currently facing suspension due to charges of felony larceny. Going back through google a few years shows that this is not a new development. Neither is the requirement that coaches submit to criminal background checks. The notion that this is a radical expansion of NCAA interests that just happened today doesn't make a lot of sense to me.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 3:32 PM on July 23, 2012


From Pulizter Prize-winning reporter Sara Ganim, of the (Harrisburg, Pa.) Patriot-News:

"Penn State will use its athletics reserve fund, capital maintenance budget and if necessary, an internal bond issue issue, to pay the $60 million fine imposed today by the NCAA in reaction to the Jerry Sandusky scandal."

Ganim on the Paterno family:

"Joe Paterno's family says the sanctions imposed by the NCAA against Penn State "defame the legacy and contributions of a great coach and educator," and says the organization is the latest to blindly accept the findings of the Freeh report."

And finally, fellow Patriot-News reporter Charles Thompson, on a letter from former PSU president Graham Spanier: "Disgraced former Penn State President Graham Spanier has sent a new letter to the Penn State trustees in which he expresses "great regret about the situation that the entire university finds itself in."

"But Spanier, in his three-page letter dated today, also seeks to make clear to the board -- which quickly ousted him after Jerry Sandusky's arrest last November -- that he believes they are getting a biased view from the Freeh Report of his involvement in the scandal."

Woe, Pennsylvania.
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:42 PM on July 23, 2012


"USC’s penalties were less harsh than Penn State’s; most notably the school only had to pay $5,000 fine. But the value created during just the past several years of Jerry Sandusky’s reign of terror more than offsets the reduction in value from the loss of less than one year’s worth of the football program’s revenue by the NCAA and the withholding of $13 million of bowl payouts from the Big Ten."

NCAA's Sanctions Against Penn State For Sex Scandal Are Too Lenient
posted by mrgrimm at 3:46 PM on July 23, 2012


anotherpanacea: "I can't help thinking that you might be too close to this issue to think about it clearly."

That's entirely possible, though maybe it's just that thoughts on this in my head are clearer than my arguments in written form have been. Let me be clear:

1. Child rape: bad.
2. Penn State the university: generally good, bad when they covered up child rape (see #1.)
3. Penn State the football team: generally good for many decades until they also covered up child rape (see #1 and #2.) Very bad during the time they covered up child rape. Potentially good in the future resulting from the school's own actions (firing Paterno, cleaning house in the athletic department, etc.) and the punishments handed out by...
4. The NCAA: bad. Still bad even after administering a penalty that's well-deserved by the penalized institution.

I was hoping it would go without saying that the "bad" of Jerry Sandusky and the harm he inflicted on innocent children is far, far greater than the "bad" of the NCAA's sanctimonious punishment, but I guess that didn't come across. I've expressed my sorrow for the victims in other threads, so I didn't think there was anything inappropriate about discussing the penalty in a nuanced way, somewhat isolated from the horrific events that led to the penalty. Go back to the other threads if you want to know where I stood on these issues when the charges were announced, when Paterno was fired, etc.

My participation in this and the prior Sandusky/Paterno/Penn State threads has been an attempt to represent the point of view of an alum who (a) had some direct experience with the charity that Sandusky created to groom his victims, (b) was a passionate fan of the football team, and felt there were things that the program did that were worthy of praise for a long time, (c) until the Freeh report was released, was open to the idea that Paterno was clueless and stupid rather than malicious, and (d) would like to see a future where a Penn State degree or a Nittany Lions banner outside someone's home isn't seen as the mark of a meathead child rape apologist. So yeah, I'm pretty close to the situation, but I'm also trying to be open about my biases/blind spots, and to debate the finer points of these tangential issues in good faith.
posted by tonycpsu at 3:49 PM on July 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


I was reading some article on Spanier, and I think it said that while he isn't President anymore, he's still a tenured member of the faculty? His wife has tenure in the English dept, too.

I was just surprised by that. Does Spanier still get money as a tenured professor?
posted by discopolo at 4:01 PM on July 23, 2012


Yeah, I think Spanier does still draw a salary.

Good article by Siva Vaidhyanathan about why, in the end, this is might be a good thing for Penn State.

Penn State’s Second Chance
posted by Toekneesan at 4:05 PM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


The swiftness with which this came down indicates that it is a deal and PSU is fully on board with it. A lot more is at stake here than one football program, and the structure of the deal kind of shows that.

I can see neither PSU nor the NCAA wanting to be responsible for the loss of businesses and jobs that would happen if the death penalty shut the program entirely down even for just a year or two. Leaving a crippled program in place may still reduce the attendance but will probably save a lot of businesses that would have had to fold during a complete shutdown. The PSU season ticket holders will still come, and they will still need to sleep and eat.

Devoting one year's nominal football income to a CSA foundation is straight up penance, in the only form a "corporate person" is known to understand. Of course PSU will survive that but it's not meant to cripple the program, it's meant to fund a CSA foundation off of proceeds that were acquired by letting a pedophile have a pass.

The scholarship loss and bowl ban are meant to cripple the program so that while it lives to bring business to the hotels and restaurants it will not enjoy glory. This is meant to make coaches and administrators who are tempted to sweep another Sandusky under the rug think twice about their choice.

And vacating all those wins is ... elegant. It may not look like much to a non football fanatic but it is most meaningful to those who care the most about the team, the brand, and the legacy. The NCAA's official most winning coach is now from Grambling instead of PSU. If there is a Hell you can be most certain Paterno's wreck of a soul spent today watching TV. If the scholarships and bowl ban are meant to get the attention of administrators and assistant coaches, this was meant to get the attention of would-be gods themselves. It's one of the few things likely to get the attention of such people who are surrounded by fawning yes-men and convinced they are idols.

As for the students, the NCAA threw them a couple of lifelines, both the ability to transfer immediately (which I understand several top schools are already twirling their moustaches over) and the right to keep their existing scholarships without playing. It's kind of hard to argue that the kids have been caught in the gears.

The saddest thing to me is that this appears to be a classic Devil and Daniel Webster scenario. Paterno probably did have ideals and believe himself a good man, but in one moment of weakness he decided to give Sandusky what he thought would be a one time pass to clear out instead of taking the hit that admitting he was part of the team might require. But instead of being a one-time pass it because blackmail and a recurring deal that involved not just more passes but keys to the shower. Once Paterno gave Sandusky that first pass he wasn't just a good coach with a bad guy on his team, he was a coach who gave a very bad guy a pass. And the longer it went on, the more damning it would have been to come clean.

Vacating the superlative record he and his colleagues had worked so long and hard to build is really the perfect punishment for such a man, for it is effective even in death.

Oh, and if PSU wants to pay off that $60 million fine instead of a bond issue they might want to think about selling the corporate jet. Just sayin'.
posted by localroger at 4:39 PM on July 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


NCAA's Sanctions Against Penn State for Sex Scandal Are Too Lenient

I would have liked that Forbes piece a lot more if whoever wrote the headline didn't describe child rape -- and the decade-plus-long coverup of said child rape -- as a "sex scandal."
posted by bakerina at 4:39 PM on July 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


(Which is not to say I'm smacking mrgrimm for linking to it, because I'm not. It's a good article, and I'm glad he posted it. It's just that that headline...yeesh.)
posted by bakerina at 4:41 PM on July 23, 2012


just a side note...Penn State is usually abbreviated as PSU (it's the Pennsylvania State University). the University of Pennsylvania is usually abbreviated as Penn.

Bzzt. Wrong. Penn State is the accepted terminology.

15 yard penalty!

The scoreboard in Beaver Stadium carries the title PENN STATE.
posted by ericb at 5:03 PM on July 23, 2012


I believe that was reffering to calling it Penn, not Penn State.

I consider the having to leave your friends the screwed part. Of course they don't have to, but if they want a chance at playing professionally they've got to be a lot more visible than Penn is going to be for the next few years.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:09 PM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think the idea there was to correct the folks who were referring to Penn State as "Penn," which I'm sure the University of Pennsylvania would object to now more than ever.
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:09 PM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I used to have a joke about the confusion between Penn and Penn State.

"They have the Nobel laureates, we have the the football team. Our football team has challenged their laureates to a match but they haven't replied."

Not as funny as it used to be.
posted by Toekneesan at 5:27 PM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Toekneesan: " "They have the Nobel laureates, we have the the football team. Our football team has challenged their laureates to a match but they haven't replied.""

Hey, hey -- don't forget about PolandPaul Berg!
posted by tonycpsu at 5:51 PM on July 23, 2012


and (d) would like to see a future where a Penn State degree or a Nittany Lions banner outside someone's home isn't seen as the mark of a meathead child rape apologist.

The only way that's going to happen is through the highly visible demonstration of a Culture Change among the alumni. Whatever flaws the NCAA decision may have, it could also be the kick in the pants that starts that culture change.
posted by radwolf76 at 6:14 PM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


They were quite good at sweeping child rape and molestation under the rug. One could say they were number one at it.

God I hope so, but we'll probably never know who holds that particular title.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:22 PM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


If anyone's actually reading this far, I guess I'll throw in my two cents.

As my name suggests, I'm a USC fan. Unsurprisingly, I think this is kind of a joke.

No matter what they did, the NCAA was going to step in it. Ban the program for any amount of time, and you'd shatter State College, though you'd make Ohio State, USC, and SMU fans happy because things would feel consistent. Give out lighter penalties like bowl bans and scholarship losses, and you look like a hypocrite.

I get it, Penn State needs a major culture change, and penalties are the only way to force that. USC needed a culture change to a much smaller degree and so the penalties were good for us- today, we now have an athletic director and sports department that are far more interested in academics and a holistic view of the university's purpose.

But this seems like a joke. I have a hard time believing that the Sandusky scandal is not even twice as bad as a kid getting free rent for his parents, a free suit, and some free hotel rooms.
posted by Old Man McKay at 8:23 PM on July 23, 2012


I was a Penn State student for the greater part of the last decade, and the Nittany Lions had no bearing whatsoever on my decision to attend. I never went to a single game. I used to hate game weekends because the downtown area would be crowded with people and unnavigable, and the increased traffic meant I wouldn't be able to go home for the weekend. I went to Penn State for one reason: I wanted to learn the craft of filmmaking, and after a campus tour, learning there felt right. (OK, two reasons: they accepted my application.)

Please understand that it does hurt a little when people characterize all PSU students and alumni as football-obsessed rape apologists.

I personally do not give half a damn what happens to the football program or Paterno's legacy. If anything, they're getting off easy. When I found out what an NCAA death penalty was, the sadist in me said, "go for it."

But the fact is that the sins of the football program will be laid upon the school and the town. I am fortunate enough to have had some wonderful professors over the years, and I would hate to think of any of this affecting their livelihood. The same thing goes for all the businesses downtown that have undoubtedly gotten their share of tourist dollars. As much as I want to see severe penalties for the Lions, it means having to accept that those penalties will affect more than just athletics.

I understand that football was an important element that made Penn State what it is. But it's not the only element, and please forgive me if I feel like I'm the only one (and that includes Spanier, Paterno, and all of them) who remembers that.
posted by plasquatch at 8:40 PM on July 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


Good for the NCAA.

I'm from PA and Penn State has been the ONLY thing that has been on the news since the accusations began [I learned about the Colorado shootings from the BBC news at the same time that all four major local news were rehashing this Sandusky case]. I found that most of the vox pops prior to today have been very hard on Penn State and very sympathetic to the victims, much as it should be. Some continued to support Joe Paterno (or had trouble believing he really played a major role.. until the results of the Freeh report), but ultimately he lost plenty of fans, much as he should have. BUT, today when the NCAA handed out the penalties, it seemed that the entire area forgave the heinous, unforgivable things that went on in the name of football. That they put a sport, a recreational activity, over the lives, innocence, and safety of children. They decided to play god by putting a price on people's lives. And, today, I saw more than a few vox pops and social media quotes from Philadelphians/Pennsylvanians saying that they felt that the NCAA went too far. What?! NO FOOTBALL?! That's too much of a punishment! Seriously, most of the people that got airtime seemed to think the penalty was too severe. It was appalling. And, unfortunately, that's the only subject that the news centered on today. Probably because, ultimately, football really is more important than everything that's going on in the world. Where are the priorities? Where's the humanity? A fine and a stripping of titles is far less of a punishment than what the poor victims of that monster's perversity had to endure.
posted by Mael Oui at 9:20 PM on July 23, 2012


Penn State's Second Chance

But. Penn State HAD a second chance. And a third one. And fourth one. And.. how many boys did Sandusky rape? How many times did Penn State turn a blind eye to housing and protecting a sexual predator?
posted by Mael Oui at 9:29 PM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


The best part, I think, is revoking the wins. Practically, it means nothing emotionally that probably causes the biggest sting. I really just wish Paterno had been alive to see that happen.
posted by delmoi at 12:45 AM on July 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I also don't see how taking down Paterno's statue fulfills this goal.

Statues are for winners and he hasn't won a game in 14 years.
posted by biffa at 1:37 AM on July 24, 2012 [9 favorites]


I really just wish Paterno had been alive to see that happen.

As much as I talked a big game about due process...they should have done it the second he broke the record.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:39 AM on July 24, 2012


Like subject of the first question in the press conference after the game immediately.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:40 AM on July 24, 2012


They were quite good at sweeping child rape and molestation under the rug. One could say they were number one at it.

What? Looking at this press coverage I'd have to say they were ultimately terrible at it.
posted by jaduncan at 4:38 AM on July 24, 2012


What? Looking at this press coverage I'd have to say they were ultimately terrible at it.

How one feels about that probably has something to do with whether or not one is among those kids abused between when Penn State covered up what they knew and when the prosecutors got around to uncovering this without Penn State's help.
posted by OmieWise at 6:10 AM on July 24, 2012


The statue removal (and my surprising satisfaction in seeing it), wedded to revision of "official history" couldn't help reminding me of post-socialist changes as described in The Political Lives of Dead Bodies...

I have no idea what that means, if anything.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:02 AM on July 24, 2012


(Google cache version)
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:51 AM on July 24, 2012


It's my opinion that quite a bit of public art and sculpture is revisionist to start with. I'm not certain that this particular piece of saccharine University branding kitsch is worth preserving on its aesthetic or historic value.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 8:25 AM on July 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


> Woe, Pennsylvania.

It's a big place, Penn State does not speak for all of it.
posted by desuetude at 8:45 AM on July 24, 2012


Child rapists think they won't get caught. We need to make it clear to the people that protect them (yes I am looking at you, Catholic Church) that there are consequences for those who protect rapists instead of children.

Prison for enabler of “monsters in clerical garb”: A judge blasts Msgr. William Lynn, the first American Catholic official to be jailed for covering up sexual abuse
posted by homunculus at 1:42 PM on July 24, 2012


The hits just keep on comin': Moody's may downgrade Penn State's credit rating.
posted by Etrigan at 4:48 PM on July 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Let's take a look at how the NCAA's effort to clean up the cesspool of college football is going today in Happy Valley:

Opposing Coaches Outside Penn State Players' Apartments

I expected other college programs to mount an aggressive campaign to poach Penn State athletes, but to have the coaches physically knocking on doors asking if PSU players will accept Jesus as their savior transfer to another school after said players are already on record saying they want to stay at PSU doesn't strike me as a positive step on the road to placing academics above athletics.

Nice work, NCAA!
posted by tonycpsu at 10:43 AM on July 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


From your link:
Mark Emmert and the NCAA have not crushed or helped curb the wrongs in this sport. They have done the exact opposite.

Oh, please. I'll agree that the recruiting is unsavory, but this is like complaining that Bernie Madoff won't be able to give his grandchildren their usual level of Christmas presents this year.
posted by Etrigan at 11:18 AM on July 25, 2012


Sure, but it's not like the NCAA couldn't have foreseen this sort of bonanza happening when they announce that an entire team is going to enter free agency. A simple "here's the phone number for an NCAA rep who will contact the players on your behalf, so please stay the hell off the campus" seems like the least they could do if they really care about changing the "culture."
posted by tonycpsu at 11:39 AM on July 25, 2012


Opposing Coaches Outside Penn State Players' Apartments

See also SMU, 1988. And pretty much every other time they've imposed a free-transfer sanction.

The thing that's been most annoying about a certain group of Penn State supporters is how they think this is all novel. It's really only novel to Penn State. Alabama, USC, Texas, Oklahoma, they've been on multiple probations with free transfers and no bowls and all that. Penn State is not the first team to be punished in the history of college football. Hell, they're not even the first to be punished for moral turpitude (Baylor being the most egregious example).

Penn State's never been on probation, ever, and now they're facing the second harshest probation, ever. And while I understand the whole "punishing the innocent" argument (and trust me, as a Colorado alum and football disgusted by what happened with the rapes and the Hnida affair, I know that feeling), at the same time it was just a year ago that people around Penn State were buying this t-shirt. Sanctimonious much?

And now some of the Board Of Trustees want to toss Erickson and the plea deal? GMAFB. What, is an NCAA investigation going to magically find that the athletic department couldn't report him because Sandusky had some sort of magical mind-control powers and it really wasn't anyone's fault? And what, the NCAA, having been spurned in the plea deal, is going to keep the death penalty off the table again when the full investigation is completed? It's like a murderer refusing to take a plea deal because plea deals aren't in the Constitution.

I'm sorry, tonycpsu, that your alma mater has managed to sink to this level, and I'm sorry that Penn State has been laid low. But if desperate coaches are going buck-wild with trying to lure players, that's part of the miserable game. This happened at Alabama, and at Oklahoma, and at USC. And it would be ten times worse had the death penalty been imposed. Coaches camping out in front of players' apartments? Hell, it was a friggin' job fair at SMU.
posted by dw at 11:39 AM on July 25, 2012


If Penn State had not accepted the package of NCAA sanctions announced Monday, the Nittany Lions faced a historic death penalty of four years, university president Rodney Erickson told "Outside the Lines" on Wednesday afternoon.

In a separate interview, NCAA president Mark Emmert confirmed that a core group of NCAA school presidents had agreed early last week that an appropriate punishment was no Penn State football for four years.
And that confirms the idea that this was a "plea deal" -- in exchange for Penn State consenting to the sanctions and foregoing the normal investigation process, the NCAA took the death penalty off the table.

The current belief is that this whole fiasco will cost Penn State $500M. A four year death penalty would at minimum double that, plus put their Big Ten membership in jeopardy.
posted by dw at 7:02 PM on July 25, 2012


A four year total death penalty would have also been a death blow to a lot of local businesses. While they will still take a hit this will be much better for the local economy, which really is an innocent bystander in this mess.
posted by localroger at 7:50 PM on July 25, 2012


A four year death penalty would at minimum double that, plus put their Big Ten membership in jeopardy.

Well here's a silver lining, of some strange kind. All we need is another tragic scandal and we can again say that 10 = 10.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:00 AM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not exactly what Happy Valley needs right now.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:11 PM on July 26, 2012


All we need is another tragic scandal and we can again say that 10 = 10.

Well, there are only ten teams eligible for the conference championship this year, thanks to Ohio's significantly less tragic scandal.
posted by Etrigan at 1:16 PM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Maybe it's time to rethink the phrase "Happy Valley".
posted by Justinian at 1:26 PM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I considered adding scare quotes, but given the uncertainty of "emotionally unstable person with gun" I thought that might be a bit insensitive until the situation is resolved.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:32 PM on July 26, 2012


I wonder if all of the alumni asking for the BOT to challenge the NCAA ruling, calling for Erickson and/or the Board to step down, etc., realize that they are cheapening the name on their diploma.

Penn State's insurance company is trying to get out of liability for events after 1998 (I am not sure if this includes only Sandusky-related claims or more) on the grounds the the PSU administration was knowingly behaving in bad faith.

"Victim 2" from the case (the one from the 2001 McQueary/shower incident), who was unidentified and did not testify during the trial of Sandusky, has come forward and will be suing PSU. Article, complete with transcription of super-creepy voicemails from Sandusky to the victim from last year, where it seems that Sandusky might be trying to coerce Victim 2 into keeping quiet as it became clearer that charges would be pressed.

(Sandusky tells "Victim 2" "I love you" in both voicemails, and apparently tries to bribe him with tickets to a Penn State football game. I got nauseated when I read this.)
posted by dhens at 2:30 PM on July 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Question - did Paterno know about that tape from the police sting where Sandusky admitted to molesting a boy to the boy's mother?
posted by sio42 at 3:13 PM on July 26, 2012


(i'm asking in good faith, not out of trying to excuse anything.)
posted by sio42 at 3:18 PM on July 26, 2012


sio42, I'm not sure about that but it is certain that he knew Sandusky had been the subject of a CSA investigation in 1998, which is why the NCAA chose that point at which to start vacating his wins. Paterno probably had a shorter route to the truth than anyone except the victims had he chosen to follow it.
posted by localroger at 3:47 PM on July 26, 2012


yeah i hear ya.

my friend (who believes that sandusky was definitely wrong and cares nothing about psu whatsoever) has been asking me this when i keep bringing up the latest development...he wants to know what if paterno thought the first claim was false since the police did nothing about? and that paterno didn't want to raise a fuss over what he believed was someone making false accusations, because it wasn't the jerry he knew? not necessarily to save the football team, but because this was someone he trusted and had seen him do good work with kids? i think that after mike mcqueary's report, that was different, i mean, come on. but the first time, maybe he thought since the police didn't find anything, there was nothing to the claim.

but if he knew about the tape, that's just so much worse than the already worse.

i thought that he did, but there's been so much media, i wouldn't know where to start looking and i don't think it's in the freeh report.

(and this a real friend, not some person i made up to ask these questions.)

i can ask on the green if that would be a more appropriate place to ask this. but i thought someone still reading here might know.
posted by sio42 at 4:05 PM on July 26, 2012


According to the report nobody, including Sandusky, was saying the first charge was false. His account of the incident was virtually identical to the kid's. PSU's response was to tell him to stop showering naked with little boys, and to definitely stop hugging them from behind during said naked showers, and nothing else.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:10 PM on July 26, 2012


so if joe knew about the investigation, do we know that he knew sandusky didn't deny it? i imagine that would have to come up in conversation, if not personally then at work, since joe was his boss, right?

i'll look at the parts of the freeh report about that first investigation.

i can't imagine being one of the investigators on this. makes my stomach turn when i try to actually understand all of the details and not just read mefi comments about it.
posted by sio42 at 4:17 PM on July 26, 2012


PSU's response was to tell him to stop showering naked with little boys, and to definitely stop hugging them from behind during said naked showers, and nothing else.

Or: "Make sure we don't hear about it again." FTFY.

I think the reasoning is that in 1998, Paterno & co. had a choice between doing the right thing and the wrong thing with perhaps uncertainty, and for a variety of reasons that seemed like a good idea at the time they did the wrong thing.

The bigger problem is that at the latest by the time McQueary came along with his report it was no longer uncertain. But by that time, they had been giving Sandusky a pass for years and to out him then would have been to also out themselves. So instead of swallowing hard and doing the right thing by Sandusky's further future victims, they covered ass.

I think the logic behind going to 1998 with the win vacations is that CSA reporting, particularly in that sort of environment where there is nudity and a lot of physicality, should be prioritized other than in the direction of "Jerry's probably OK and the cops probably went overboard." It would not have taken much of an investigation, particularly by people like Paterno who had access, power, and trust, to determine that Jerry had a special kiddie rape bedroom in the basement of his house. This is the NCAA's way of letting future Paternos know that I SEE NUTHINK is not going to cut it.
posted by localroger at 4:42 PM on July 26, 2012


Just wanted to say thanks to all the MeFites who provided details about the legal implications and the football consequences, on both sides of the discussion. I was in the middle of a huge project for work when the NCAA penalty was announced, but I knew I could wait until I had time to read MeFi to get a nuanced take on the issues from all angles.
posted by harriet vane at 6:04 AM on July 31, 2012


Former site of Joe Paterno statue now features trees
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 8:51 AM on July 31, 2012


Delaware County Daily Times: Spencer: Another child sex saga, different result

Philly Magazine article referenced by the Delco Times article.

I'm surprised that this Scott Ward case hasn't been featured more prominently in coverage of the Sandusky affair. There are some differences between the two cases, but there are also some striking similarities, in that both Ward and Sandusky were child molesters with clout at high-profile educational institutions who set up foundations for disadvantaged youth, remained at their schools long after initial warning signs were missed and/or deliberately ignored, and were able to continue their relationship with the schools after being relieved of their normal duties.

With the speculation in the previous Sandusky thread about whether an academic department would be shut down if a professor were credibly accused or convicted of child rape, I think these are important reads, though the tangent that the DelCo Times writer goes on about Buzz Bissinger is a bit superfluous.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:37 AM on August 1, 2012


Volokh Conspiracy: Is The NCAA A State Actor?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:15 PM on August 6, 2012


I'm surprised that this Scott Ward case hasn't been featured more prominently in coverage of the Sandusky affair.

Equating the two is a bit of a stretch to me. It would be a better comparison if Ward was molesting teenage summer campers at the economics school or something like that, i.e. there's not much connection between the school of economics and Ward's crimes other than the fact that the school employed him (

If leaders of the economic school conspired to hide evidence or failed to report known crimes or if Ward was using the resources of the school (office, classrooms) to molest children and the school knew about it and covered it up, then yeah, I suppose I could see killing the school, sure. Why not?

But that doesn't seem to be what happened (I only read the first link.)

Volokh Conspiracy: Is The NCAA A State Actor?

Been tried and failed. Oh, he says that. ;)
posted by mrgrimm at 1:54 PM on August 6, 2012


After reading the second link, yeah, there's more connection than I thought:

If that was the case, once again Ward seemed to win the chess match. Though he taught only 22 courses from 1999 through 2005, Wharton still paid for him to teach at its partner school in Bangkok — an especially baffling arrangement, since right there, in his CV filled with research on kids and his consulting jobs overseas, is the blueprint for his lifestyle, one made possible in large part by his connection to Penn.

But I still don't think it's the same level of cover-up. If so, then yes, serious sanctions including dissolving the school.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:17 PM on August 6, 2012


mrgrimm: "Equating the two is a bit of a stretch to me [...] But I still don't think it's the same level of cover-up. If so, then yes, serious sanctions including dissolving the school."

I don't think anyone's equating the two cases, but it does seem notable that a school just a few hours down the turnpike made many of the same mistakes with their handling of Ward that Penn State did with Sandusky. In terms of comparing the scale of the respective cover-ups, we don't really know the level of cover-up at UPenn because they haven't been investigated by any independent body. It's kind of hard to imagine the cover-up there could have been as involved and long-running as the one at Penn State, but how would we know?

In other news, this is probably not a good idea, for many reasons.
A Penn State board of trustee member filed an appeal Monday afternoon with the NCAA over sanctions levied against the university after the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal.

Three other trustees joined the appeal, which states that the consent decree university president Rodney Erickson signed with the NCAA agreeing to the sanctions is "null and void" because Erickson "lacked the legal authority" to enter into such an agreement without the board's approval.

Trustees and a person with first-hand knowledge of the discussions said the move is a precursor to a federal lawsuit asking a judge to invalidate the sanctions, because trustees expect the NCAA to reject the appeal.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:41 PM on August 6, 2012


The Incidental Art of Penn State Football
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:53 AM on August 7, 2012


Penn State Warned by Accreditation Panel:
Pennsylvania State University has been warned that its accreditation is in jeopardy unless it corrects conditions that contributed to sexual abuse of children by a former assistant football coach, Jerry Sandusky.

The Middle States Commission on Higher Education issued the warning last week, giving the university until Sept. 30 to report what steps it is taking…
posted by grouse at 1:57 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


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