The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

July 23, 2012

Other Views: Penn State must pay


The Daily Star, Oneonta, N.Y.

— Joe Paterno died in January shortly after being fired as football coach at Pennsylvania State University. Now, the college football program with which his name is ineluctably connected may face what’s known as the NCAA’s “death penalty.”

In truth, the “death penalty” facing Penn State is more of a severe wound, even if it is the harshest penalty the National Collegiate Athletic Association can mete out to a member university.

It’s only been done to five schools, the most recent being Southern Methodist University in 1986 for a series of recruiting violations.

SMU lost scholarships and assistant coaches, it was not allowed to play in the 1987 season, its home games the next year were called off, and it was banned from bowl games and television appearances through 1989. Yet SMU came nowhere close to the horror that occurred at Penn State.

Former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky did not act alone. He had accomplices, whose cold, calculating actions enabled this predator to prey upon so many vulnerable young boys.

A report released by former FBI director Louis Freeh said that Paterno — the winningest coach in college football history — was culpable in allowing Sandusky to abuse those kids.

Freeh said that Paterno, school President Graham Spanier, Vice President Gary Schultz and Athletic Director Tim Curley “failed to protect against a child sexual predator harming children for over a decade” and “exhibited a striking lack of empathy for Sandusky’s victims by failing to inquire as to their safety and well-being.”

They “empowered Sandusky to attract potential victims to the campus and football events by allowing him to have continued, unrestricted and unsupervised access to the university’s facilities and affiliation with the university’s prominent football program.”

In an interview this past week, NCAA President Mark Emmert said the death penalty was a possibility for Penn State.

“I’ve never seen anything as egregious as this in terms of just overall conduct and behavior inside a university,” Emmert said, “and hope never to see it again.”

While it may seem unfair to penalize current players and fans of the Nittany Lions, that is far overshadowed by the need to shout that children’s lives are far more important than football.

The death penalty for Penn State? Absolutely.

The Daily Star, Oneonta, N.Y.