Penn State has been embroiled in controversy for over a year now regarding the heinous acts of one man–Jerry Sandusky–against several young boys, but in recent months we’ve seen the university he worked for, as well as several of his co-workers, become involved as stories of cover-ups and lack of action have poured forth. One of the questions on everyone’s mind has been, “Will the football program be shut down?” Now, it looks like that question has been answered.
The NCAA has just issued penalties for the school; rather than closing the program for good–an action that many called for–the university will face $60 million in fines (which will go to a fund for child abuse victims), lose ten scholarships a year over the next four years, and will be banned from bowl games for the same period of time. They will also be on probation for five years, meaning one false step and the NCAA could make a move to shut them down. And, in what many consider to be a shocking move, the college has vacated all of Coach Joe Paterno’s victories from 1998-2001, meaning he will no longer hold the record for most wins.
Early on Sunday morning, it was announced that the university’s statue of Paterno would be taken down and moved to a secure location, which is not part of the penalties enforced upon the football program, but rather an effort to cleanse the school so the victims can begin healing.
While most will agree that these penalties are at least a step in the right direction, some wonder if the punishment truly fits the crimes of the men involved, and whether healing can truly be done with the program still open and running. However, NCAA president Mark Emmert made a statement regarding their decision, making it clear that the victims are the first priority.
“No matter what we do here today, there is no action we can take that will remove their pain and anguish,” Emmert said. “But what we can do is impose sanctions that both reflect the magnitude of these terrible acts and that also ensure that Penn State will rebuild an athletic culture that went horribly awry. Our goal is not to be just punitive, but to make sure the university establishes an athletic culture in which football will never again be placed ahead of educating, nurturing and protecting young people.”