Sports Columns

Joaq the Walk: Feeble NCAA lifts sanctions on Penn State

The NCAA dropped all sanctions against Penn State University on Monday, Sept. 7, including the four-year postseason ban and the reduction of athletic scholarships that were put in place in 2012 as a result of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

The timing simply could not have been better. The same day the video showing Ray Rice punching his then-fiancee in the face was released, the NCAA made the statement. The public didn’t have enough outrage for both atrocities and the Rice scandal was much more fresh in people’s minds.

For those of you who might have a hard time recalling why sanctions were put in place on Penn State, let me refresh your memory.

Sandusky, a former assistant coach who retired in 1999, molested several boys on or near the university’s campus. In at least one case, he molested a boy inside the football locker room showers.

The team’s head coach, Joe Paterno, knew about it. Penn State’s athletic director, Tim Curley, knew about it. Penn State’s Senior Vice President for Finance and Business, Gary Schultz, knew about it. The university’s president, Graham Spanier, knew about it.

That happened in 2001. In response, the four banned Sandusky from bringing boys to the locker room. And that was it. Back to business as usual.

It wasn’t until 2011 that Sandusky was arrested and Penn State was found guilty of covering up his actions. Paterno was fired. Curley, Schultz and Spanier all resigned.

In 2012, the NCAA laid down one of the most severe punishments in the history of collegiate athletics: a $60 million fine, a four-year postseason ban and the removal of most of their athletic scholarships.

The sanctions were meant to cripple the program. Good riddance. It was about time that the punishment fit the crime.

Of course, it was too good to be true.

ESPN continued to air Penn State games, and, in 2013, the NCAA began to give back some of the school’s athletic scholarships.

Now, less than two years after the original punishment, Penn State is completely free from all sanctions.

I’m sorry, but the school’s program should have been utterly decimated.

It put football over the well-being and safety of children.

It is sickening the lengths people will go to protect the “integrity” and, more importantly, the profitability of a college football program.

Actually, you know what? I’m not sorry at all.

I’m not sorry for the athletes who decided to stay at or go to Penn State after knowing what went on inside the locker room and in the front office. They made the choice knowing full well that they wouldn’t be able to play in a bowl game or receive a scholarship. These young men are high-end Division I football players. For most of them, Penn State wasn’t their only option.

I’m not sorry for the fans of Penn State. How a person could morally continue to support an organization that covered up a child sexual abuse scandal is beyond me. But then I recall that Nittany Lion fans began rioting in response to the firing of Paterno and the sanctions placed upon the school and it doesn’t seem so shocking. They blindly worship a false deity. It is like a cult.

And I’m definitely not sorry for Penn State. Yes, none of the people involved in the cover-up are there anymore, but this isn’t just about punishing them. It’s about putting a program that became larger than life in its place. It’s about making a program that deemed itself above the law pay for its crimes.

Most of all, it’s about making an example out of the program so that the rest of the NCAA is entirely aware that all hell will rain down up them should their program ever commit a similar corruption.

Hell never rained down for Penn State, though. Instead, it just drizzled for a little while and now the clouds are clearing up.

To me, in light of the decision to lift all sanctions, the NCAA is just as corrupt and disgraceful as Penn State’s athletic department.

But hey, the games are back, so who cares?

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