The brilliance of Penn State’s punishment

After having some time to digest the punishment of the shamed university, the NCAA’s actions show remarkable thoughtfulness by not punishing the innocent players on today’s team. Photo: Associated Press

CHICAGO, August 3, 2012 — A full week ago, we found out what fate would befall Penn State and its football program as a result of its inability to stop or even hinder the sinister activities of Jerry Sandusky. Its punishments, in case you are unaware, include a $60 million fine, a four-year ban from postseason play, and the vacation of every one of the school’s wins dating back to 1998.

But none of these sanctions show the true wisdom of what the NCAA did.

The best punishment meted out by the NCAA was that its players could transfer and play at any school that would have them starting this year. It’s open season, the recruiting process all over again.

The damage started to bite with the departure of Nittany Lions’ fan-favorite Silas Redd to the formerly ashamed USC program. Redd will have a chance to compete for so much more at USC than he ever would be able to at Penn State, and he has the NCAA to thank for that.

Think of the alternatives that were open to the NCAA, namely a multi-year death penalty. Such a punishment would damage the school, yes, but it would also force its players out even if they wanted to stay.

A death penalty would mean that the players, who have known football and only football throughout their lives, would either have to give up the sport or leave the school that they chose to attend above all others in the world.

Football would not have existed at Penn State for a number of years, even if returning players were devoted to making the program come back strongly. The kids wouldn’t even be given the choice of how they wanted their football future to play out, an organization that was already controversial in handing out any punishment would have decided that for them.

That sounds an awful lot like a penalty for the players who were in grammar school when most of Sandusky’s horrible crimes were taking place.

No, instead the NCAA decided to take the kids into account for the first time in a regrettably long time. They chose to punish the university and the faulty system, the false ideals that allowed these horrendous crimes to occur. They chose to dismantle Penn State’s football program, not its players.

And for that, we should all thank them. They showed us that they aren’t entirely blind to the well-being of the students, not entirely blind to what the kids need to succeed.

At least that’s what it looks like now.

To contact Nick Goralka, see above to send him an e-mail containing a question, comment, or scathing insult. His work appears in Alley-oops for Touchdowns! and That Liberal Pinko in the Communities at the Washington Times Online.


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Nicholas Goralka

Nick Goralka is a sports enthusiast with eclectic interests. In addition to cheering on and suffering along with his Chicago teams, Nick is a competitively-ranked tennis player, enjoys debating real versus imaginary numbers in mathematical functions, and is a trumpet soloist in his Jazz ensemble which has performed throughout Chicago and for Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and Vice President Joe Biden at a recent charity fundraiser.  

Nick is still in high school, steadily working his way through his Statistics class, and learning more and more every day about analyzing the sports that he loves.

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