The NCAA finally got something right when it reduced the death-like sanctions against Penn State University. Although there was no admission from President Mark Emmert, who meted out the institution-crippling penalties in 2012, a reasonable person should easily recognize that two wrongs don’t make a right and the NCAA had mistakenly donned the cloak of judge, jury and executioner against the Nittany Lions in the investigation process.
Former coach Jerry Sandusky is a horrible person who did unthinkable things to children. Just as bad, people holding the most responsible positions on the State College campus were aware of horrific deeds done by a key university employee and covered up his actions because they feared if made public, they might stain Penn State’s renowned reputation. Yet they did nothing.
As dastardly as they were, as reprehensible as anything to come to light on a college campus, this wasn’t a simple athletic infraction. It was a crime against humanity committed by Sandusky – a violent offense – that belonged in the criminal justice system. The same for the so-called “Penn State Three” – former school president Graham Spanier, ex-athletic director Tim Curley and former senior vice president for finance and business Gary Schultz – who are now fighting for their futures in court, where they face perjury charges.
Emmert must come from a culture that says there is nothing bigger than sports, a case where our institutions of higher education are merely centers for high-stakes athletic competition that determines and shapes a university’s identification and prestige. Otherwise, why would he try to rule supreme in a matter that was way outside his court of jurisdiction?
The NCAA attacked the investigation in a heavy-handed way. In the end, Penn State was given a choice: Either accept the most draconian sanctions ever handed down or understand it would be given the “death penalty,” which would have shut down the school’s football program. There would be no “due process” in the case and the damaging investigation in the Freeh Report could not be questioned.