Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

23 Jul 2012

Penn State Punishments: Bowl Ban, Fine, Scholarship Loss, and Wins Vacated 1998-2011

The NCAA officially handed down its sanctions related to the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State.

Penn State was hit with a $60 million fine, equivalent to the income from one year of football. They will be banned from bowl games for four years, and lose 10 scholarship spots a year for four years. All wins from 1998-2011 are officially "vacated," which means that Eddie Robinson of Grambling is once again "officially" the all-time Division I leader in wins as a football coach.

Current players will be allowed to transfer to another school and play immediately without a one-year waiting period, or they will be allowed to quit football yet still retain their athletic scholarship until they are finished with classes and graduate.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 23 Jul 2012

151 comments, Last at 26 Jul 2012, 9:58am by 'nonymous


by AnonymousA (not verified) :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 10:11am

It's not the death penalty! You'll just lose all your money, players, prestige, ability to recruit, and ability to participate in bowls should you somehow win!

Wonder why they didn't just come out and say "no football until 2017; see ya then?"

by DavidL :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 10:20am

This gives Penn State four years of mediocre football to get used to, rather than a void filled by the memory of an idealized program. When you look at it that way, it might be better at ending the culture of football-above-everything than a suspension of the program.

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 11:15am

Not sure it was intended that way, but excellent point. Even after the sanctions are over, this will be extremely hard to recover from. Not many recruits will want to put themselves into the middle of all that PSU football has come to represent and the same will be true for top coaches. This makes normal rule-breaking scandals like SMU and Miami look positively quaint by comparison.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 10:24am

I wonder if Paterno's successor anticipated such an outcome, and negotiated a contract to account for it.

Thank goodness the players are being allowed to transfer without delay. I wonder what techniques will be employed by other schools to poach them under the table.

Lastly, with regard to the most important issue, I wonder what Sandusky's final victim tally will be. I still think it would be worth it to offer him the choice of what prison to die in, in return for a full allocution of every assault he committed. I shudder to think how much damage he may have caused over the last four decades-plus.

by 'nonymous (not verified) :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 10:25am

All wins since 1998 vacated, huh? Because in 1998, when the police investigated Sandusky and decided somehow that they didn't have enough evidence to press charges or take other action, Paterno and Penn State were somehow at fault?

My point is not to defend those who are guilty in this sad story, which includes Paterno. But the NCAA's rush to punishment, without regard for their own procedures, jurisdiction, the time required for comprehensive hearing of the evidence from all sides, or even comprehension of the evidence already available, is not justice.

Though I still wonder about the full story of the 1998 police investigation, the legal system is looking far wiser than the NCAA or the national media in this story. I applaud the conviction of Sandusky, speedy and efficient even though it wasn't as immediate or violent as public opinion craved. (It's worth a few extra months to systematically present and consider the evidence before deciding.) And I applaud the coming trials, and possibly further charges, against those who actually did cover up Sandusky's crimes and impede the investigation. (Imagine that-- actually punishing those most responsible in this sad story, one by one.) I truly hope they can uncover clear evidence to convict those who deserve it.

The NCAA doesn't have the ability or mandate to investigate all these issues, or the power to punish those truly guilty. Maybe that's a clue as to what their role should have been in this story...

by DavidL :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 10:31am

I think the logic behind vacating wins since 1998 is that Paterno's failure to report what he knew, had it been reported to the NCAA, would have required his dismissal as coach. Thus the Nittany Lions were using ineligible personnel in every game from that point on.

by Guido Merkens :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 10:40am

If that's the case, then the NCAA should probably give Penn State back all their wins from about 2007-2011. Paterno didn't really coach in any of those games, unless he worked out some way that a guy in the press box without headphones on could telepathically relay his thoughts to field level.

by DavidL :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 10:43am

If you ask the "We are Penn State" crowd, I'm sure they'll tell you exactly how he did.

by 'nonymous (not verified) :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 10:57am

I don't follow your logic. If I could rewrite history, my first choice would be to have the police press charges and convict Sandusky in 1998. I don't know why this didn't happen, but it was the police who decided not to press charges.

My second choice would be for someone-- Curley, Paterno, Shultz, Spanier, etc.-- to report Sandusky to the police in 2001, based on the testimony of McQueary. This is where the Penn State administration failed horribly, especially since they evidently had some knowledge that Sandusky was investigated, though not charged, in 1998. Sandusky was not a coach at this time. I don't know if they had any obligation to report anything to the NCAA, but they had a legal and moral obligation to report to the police.

I truly hope all the tendrils of this cover-up can be unearthed, and appropriate charges can be brought. I don't expect there are many more key figures in this story than we already know (that's kind of the point of a cover-up, no?); but the extent of their knowledge may be difficult to prove.

My main point is that the failing of Penn State administrators happened in 2001, not in 1998. I don't see any other way to read the evidence. Sandusky's crimes extend much earlier, of course, but the NCAA is punishing the institutional failings, not Sandusky's failings.

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 11:26am

I think you're letting them off awfully easy. Their knowledge of that 1998 investigation is why they're now being punished for that time frame. The school didn't have to abide by the normal rules of evidence that the court system uses; the mere hint that something was wrong should have been enough for them to start putting distance between the school and Sandusky. But that didn't happen. Combine that with the fact that they also did nothing in 2001 and you're left with the unmistakable conclusion that absolutely nothing was going to get them to cut ties with him. He was one of theirs no matter what he did or how many innocent kids got hurt.

by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 12:20pm

I can maybe understand if the original 1998 allegations seemed totally unbelievable to PSU officials that all ties with Sandusky wouldn't have been cut, but there were a million steps that could have been taken short of that which could have stopped the abuse or at least slowed it down. Just one example: It's standard practice in youth sports nowadays not to have adults EVER be alone with kids. It's astounding that Penn State didn't have rules like that in place when it came to outside groups using their facilities. Even if there'd been no allegations, that'd still be astounding just from a CYA standpoint. Yet in 2001, three years after the first investigation, he's caught with a kid in the shower and the debate is over what was going on in the shower, not that it was a violation just for him being in there alone with the kid?

by Will Allen :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 12:41pm

Did any of these morons ever seek competent legal advice in 1998 or 2001? If the answer is "no", that alone is a stunning abdication of duty.

by Subrata Sircar :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 8:29pm

Will, my conclusion from reading the summary of the 1998 charges is that they originated outside of Penn State, that the University was essentially informed that the investigation was ongoing and that it had ended without charges being filed. It's not clear what other legal advice would be required. (For example, if they had fired Sandusky for being investigated, he could have sued and would likely have won - regardless of the truth of the accusations against him! - because nothing could be proved.)

2001, of course, is a different story. Not that this matters much - changing the vacation-date to 2001 and leaving everything else the same makes no real difference here.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 8:38pm

It seems to me that if I know an employee, especially a manager, is being investigated by police, and then I hear no charges have been filed, I still want to know what the basis of the investigation is, and when I hear it involves behavior around children, I want to talk to my counsel, to find out what exposure I have if the alleged behavior recurs, and I was aware of the allegations of past behavior.

by Subrata Sircar :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 8:21pm

Minor caveat: Police don't decide whether or not to press charges; district (or higher) attorneys do. The implication is that after reviewing the evidence the police gathered, the attorney(s) decided that there was not enough to convict, and hence declined. (It is of course possible they were pressured, but that seems like it would have come out by now.) It's not a good idea to file charges you don't think you can prove, particularly when they're this inflammatory. (I am not a lawyer, but that's perilously close to prosecutorial misconduct and harassment.)

That said, the NCAA is essentially declaring that since 1998 Penn State should have known something was up and done something about it, when even the law couldn't (after a thorough investigation, apparently). That seems like overzealousness on their part, but whatever - it's not like making that "2001" and keeping the same other penalties would make a difference.

by 'nonymous (not verified) :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 11:30am

Thanks for the correction; you're quite correct. The Freeh report found no evidence of pressure or influence from Penn State in the 1998 investigation, so I think this is a clear example of a flaw in the NCAA's ruling. --and you're also right that those 3 years of vacated wins don't make much difference.

I see no good reason why the NCAA bypassed their normal, more deliberative process for determining sanctions. As I think the sanctions are misdirected, I wish they had taken the time to gather evidence and input, and to consider the appropriate response.

by t.d. :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 12:39pm

Clearly the NCAA's primary motive was to quash the ongoing story as quickly as possible. It's been months and months of a terrible story that sickens the public at large, and now the Penn State scandal can move off the front pages.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 1:27pm

Yeah, the only reason to make this move now, instead of after the perjury trials, when there will be inevitably more evidence of relevance to consider, is for marketing purposes. They wanted this off the sports pages before the season started.

In case anyone hasn't noticed, the NCAA is an utterly cynical, amoral, institution. They make NFL owners look like the Salvation Army.

by MTR (not verified) :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 2:05pm

If they wanted to keep things quiet, haven't they failed rather badly? This is big news and the perjury and civil trials are going to drag it all back out into the public eye again.

I agree they're acting for marketing purposes, though.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 2:38pm

I didn't say they were trying to keep it quiet; that was not an option. They wanted the "What will the NCAA do about Penn State?" story out of the headlines before the season started.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 10:33am

Having enough evidence to indict someone, with the expectation that you will be able to get a jury to unaminously agree that there is guilt beyond reasonable doubt, is no where close to having enough evidence that a guy's behavior is questionable enough to not allow him access to your facilites, with the ability to bring children there.

How complicit Paterno is to this inaction is irrelevant to the undeniable evidence that someone at Penn State knew, at a minimum, that Sandusky's judgement, with regard to his behavior around children, was impaired.

by tuluse :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 10:37am

It's hard to get the evidence to convict when the people who know what's going on refuse to speak.

by RickD :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 11:32am

Indeed, the point was that a good number of Penn State officials withheld information from the police. Apparently our anonymous commenter thinks that this act of hiding evidence should be ignored.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 11:39am

I don't think the defendents in the upcoming perjury trials are going to be able to avoid taking the stand, unless they want to emulate Sandusky, and defacto plead guilty. I really want to see them questioned in open court, to give a chance of getting some insight as to how they thought they were taking a wise course of action, to say nothing of the immorality. Were they hoping Sandusky would just drop dead of a heart attack, and take the secrets with him?

by MTR (not verified) :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 12:55pm

They probably talked to Sandusky and he convinced them it was a one time thing or never happened or promised to get help so he'd stop or something like that.

Your point is something I've been thinking. If you're evil conspiring administrator not only do you cover up the crime, but you get Sandusky the hell away from your program so it happens somewhere far away that isn't threatening you. Given the way they behaved, I think the administrators convinced themselves there was nothing going on, or at least would be nothing going on in the future.

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 6:01pm

I think there was a bit of that mixed in with the administrators deferring entirely to Paterno. Those released email show they were ready to call the cops but JoePa vetoed that. They had almost a mafia atmosphere where once you were part of the family, that never changed and they were willing to go to any lengths to cover for their own. By the time Sandusky got arrested they'd gladly have sold him down the river, but it was too late for them by then.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 6:25pm

Be careful. The e mail shows that Curley (I believe) sent a e-mail which implied such a thing. One of the strange and ironic things about having a cult of personality develop in any institution is that the center of the cult can get increasingly isolated, as those around in the closest inner circle claim, sometimes entirely without basis, that the person at the center of the cult has endorsed various plans of actions. I wouldn't bet much on the veracity of any e-mail which claimed that Paterno had endorsed anything, especially since anything could be written in an e-mail, and Paterno would never see it.

This is not a defense of Paterno; a leader who allows such a cult of personality to develop has failed by definition, and deciding to stay in such a position for many decades makes such a failure very likely.

by sundown (not verified) :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 2:06pm

It was Curley and the email reads as follows: "After giving it more thought and talking it over with Joe yesterday, I am uncomfortable with what we agreed were the next steps." The next steps had included calling the authorities.

That seems pretty straight forward. They were ready to report, he has a talk with Paterno, and suddenly reporting it is off the table. Most logical reading is JoePa said "no way." Another possibility would be that he didn't necessarily say not to report but told Curley a bunch of stuff that incriminated himself and the university (knowledge of past Sandusky actions, perhaps?) that made Curley scared to get the cops involved. But that would make Paterno look just as bad.

If it were somebody around the edges of the scandal, I'd be more with your point. But Curley was part of the inner circle and was one of the very few who knew all the details and was discussing the matter directly with Paterno. No way was he trying to set up JoePa because those email were never intended to be made public. For the email to be untrue, he'd have had to of totally misunderstood what JoePa had told him, which seems unlikely. JoePa was running that university and even if Curley had completely misread what he was saying, JoePa would have eventually figured out that the authorities hadn't been called and would have made his true wishes known.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 2:53pm

You are incorrect in assuming that the only reason Curley would be dishonest in his e mail would be to set up Paterno, or that he misunderderstood Paterno. Manipulating organizational behavior via misrepresentation of the stated wishes of figure of authority is extremely common, even moreso when the figure of authority is not part of a communication loop, like when he has not adopted a technology like e-mail. From there it isn't too far a leap to try to manipulate Paterno, 73 years old, about what has been reported to law enforcement.

The nice thing about trials is all manner of things tend to get revealed. We'll know more when testimony is given under oath, and subjected to cross examination by skilled litigators.

by sundown (not verified) :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 4:24pm

If JoePa tells Curley "report the SOB" and that doesn't happen, it's not going to matter if he uses email or not, at some point he's going to know his wishes weren't carried out and Curley will be called onto the carpet to explain himself. That would also put Curley in the incredibly perilous position as being the only guy involved who wanted to defy the law and shield Sandusky. Clearly, the guy is dumb, but was he that dumb as to to cross JoePa and advocate illegal activity while everybody else around him wanted to follow the law?

JoePa was not some senile old man who got pushed around. He basically picked Curley in the first place for the AD job and many have stated nothing happened at Penn State without him knowing about it. Not likely he was going to be bamboozled on something like this and it would have been impossible for him to miss the fact that Sandusky still had an office on campus for years after he gave the word to cut ties with the guy.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 6:51pm

Many have stated have stated all manner of things on this earth that they don't know to be a fact. I didn't say he was a senile old man who got pushed around. That was a phrase you used to imply something different than what I wrote. That is an excellent example of how deception is employed in communication; thanks for providing it. I said a figure of authority who has had a cult of personality built up around him, can be used by people to advance their preferred course of action, by deceptive assertions as to what the authrority figure wants. This is a fact supported by a long list of examples. I said that an authority figure who is cut out of a communication loop is very exposed to this type of misrepresentation. This is a fact. I said such a person, at the age of 74, would be also exposed to the risk of manipulation by deception as to what is told to him. Hell, it happens to Presidents of the United States with some frequency, so it isn't a stretch at all to say it could happen to a football coach in his 70s, who doesn't used a damned computer.

I don't understand the pressing need to pretend to know facts which are not yet in evidence. The rapist is jailed. The head coach dead. The athletic director is under indictment. Civil discovery looms. The football program punished. Why pretend to "know" things that are not actually known?

by markus (not verified) :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 6:48pm

I see three possibilities
1. Paterno didn't want to report
2. He did want to report
3. He was indifferent

They couldn't go against him on the first two because he'd hear if an investigation happened. The third would require him having no opinion on something involving both his program and an old friend.

Those email were consistent with what many have maintained, that whatever Paterno wanted he got. And the other Vicky Pitrony emails accuse him of trying to keep all football discipline private which is exactly how they ended up handling Sandusky.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 6:56pm

Much depends on what McQueary said to Paterno about what he saw, and subsequently what others told Paterno about what McQueary reported to them. I suspect the truth of this matter will become more clear after a few more crimninal and civil trials.

by sundown (not verified) :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 2:33pm

Sorry for the double post, but the part of those email that I found so damning is the fact they all seem quite accepting of Sandusky being guilty. If they'd forgotten all about 1998 and written that off as a bogus claim, you'd have expected them to be much more interested in figuring out what had happened. McQueary was just a grad assistant at the time, yet there seems to be no doubt about his credibility. If they honestly believed the first accusation had been a big misunderstanding, wouldn't somebody have questioned if this wasn't something similar? They don't even try to track down the child involved, there's a plan in place before Sandusky has even told them his side of things, the "humane" talk is what you'd say about a guilty person, not somebody who could possibly be innocent.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 2:55pm

None of the e mails were written, or read, by Paterno.

by sundown (not verified) :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 4:04pm

I never said they were written or ready by Paterno. Point remains the administrators seemed very accepting of the fact Sandusky was guilty. Yet they still engaged in a coverup. While legally the same, from a moral standpoint it'd look much better for them if they simply couldn't bring themselves to believe their old friend and pillar of the community was possible of such things. Instead, it appears they were resigned to that fact but were more concerned about themselves than the victims.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 4:19pm

You wrote "they all seem.....", which, to me implies inclusion of Paterno. I would no assume anything about Paterno's state of mind, based upon those e mails, at least not until I examine more evidence. Again this is not a strong defense of Paterno, in that I think at a minimum Paterno had allowed such a cult of personality to develop around him that it would thought possible to manipulate the organization by merely invoking his name. Really an atrocious state of affairs.

by RickD :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 11:30am

Your point appears to be that, if the police don't find anything actionable, then neither should the university.

I would strongly disagree with that interpretation.

Criminal charges are the last line of defense. In 1998, it was already known to Penn State that Sandusky had "hugged" boys in the shower. Whether the DA feels that this is a case that they can prosecute effectively in court is one thing. But the legal difficulties of a criminal prosecution do not exonerate the university from their responsibility for their actions. Rather than address the problem that they knew about in 1998, they continued to allow Sandusky access to the campus in a position where he would be able to abuse more children for the next decade.

by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 12:34pm

It's a particularly disingenuous argument given how the 2001 affair turned out. When they had a high degree of certainty the cops would do something, they failed to inform them at all. How can anybody look at those facts and suppose they were doing all they could back in '98 to make sure the cops had all the incriminating info needed to form a case?

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 6:10pm

My guess is that in 1998 somebody not in the inner circle knew about the allegations and that forced them to turn it over to the police. Because if they buried it in 2001, they certainly would have done so earlier had they had the chance.

by 'nonymous (not verified) :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 8:16pm

I would agree with tracing the failures back to 1998 under any of the scenarios suggested in the three comments above. But Penn State did not initiate, or fail to cooperate with, or otherwise influence the 1998 police investigation, according to the Freeh report. Curley, Schultz, and Spanier kept tabs on the investigation, as Paterno did at least peripherally; but the police dropped the matter, concluding inappropriate judgment on Sandusky's part but no real evidence of sexual assault. At that point, it really could have been a false charge or a misunderstanding, and Penn State had no compelling reason to think otherwise.

The failure of the Penn State administration happened in 2001, when they decided not to report McQueary's testimony to the police; this decision was made jointly by Curley, Paterno, Schultz, and Spanier according to the Freeh report, though board members and others are criticized for not asking more questions. Whatever uncertainties or discomfort they may have had, there is no excuse for not reporting Sandusky. Self-interest, misplaced loyalty, and willful blindness overcame their legal and moral obligation to protect children.

My pickiness with the details of the timeline may not matter to you, but it should have mattered to the NCAA as they decided on sanctions. I see no good excuse for bypassing their standard, more deliberative procedure for deciding sanctions, especially in this unprecedented case. It is worth the time to ponder evidence and to discuss the right response to this reprehensible cover-up, that nonetheless has no real connection to competitive balance or on-field play. I don't necessarily object to sanctions-- vacating wins, levying fines for charity, or mandating more institutional oversight-- but I think the $60M fine and football-specific sanctions are out of proportion and will hurt all the wrong people, far more than necessary.

I am advocating for Penn State as a university, for its students and athletes, and for the football team I cheer for. You may disapprove, disagree, question my evidence, and even overrule my arguments; but it's not wrong for Penn State to have an advocate-- it was wrong for them not to! I see lots of unhealthy fervor and furor throughout this situation, and it's not all coming from crazed PSU football fans. (And the strains of unhealthy fandom at Penn State can be found in equal measure at dozens of other programs.)

I do want those directly responsible to be held accountable, and my bet is still on the legal system. The task of preventing future cover-ups and abuses consists in reorganizing and pruning the administration and board of trustees, not the football team. The NCAA bypassed its standard 24-hour notice of sanctions and, according to PSU, coerced a statement of consent from president Rodney Erickson by holding out the threat of the death penalty. Erickson agreed without consulting the board of trustees. Not a promising start to a new era of transparency and oversight at Penn State...

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 10:32am

I know the transfer and play option is standard when teams get hit with post seasons bans, but is the ability to keep the scholarship and not play anymore? I don't seem to recall hearing that on previous sanctioning of schools.

That's always been my issue with sanctions, the way they can punish individuals who had nothing to do with the issue that caused the sanctions. The transfer and the ability to keep the scholarship and not play seem to be good steps to not screw over players (who get screwed over enough already) though I'm not sure it's enough or if there is a better way to handle it.

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 10:52am

It's not going to be a popular comment, but I don't think it's enough. I think anything short of the NCAA death penalty is not enough. I also think the only reason they avoided it is because it's too close to the start of football season. If today was February or March, I doubt Penn State is playing football for at least two years.

by Sophandros :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 11:56am

This punishment is worse than the death penalty though.

Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

by FrontRunningPhinsFan :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 12:40pm

What makes you think so?

They've lost:

The equivalent to a year's worth of profit.

20 total scholarships which equates about to practice squad players who may never dress, let alone actually play.

A bunch of vacated wins which I think most people would agree, amount to exaclt zilch.

In my opinion, nothing BUT the death penalty is sufficient.

Fire Jeff Ireland.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 12:50pm

I don't have an opinion about whether the penalty is sufficient, but your characterization of the scholorship losses is entirely inaccurate, in terms of their impact. Football is a game of roster depth; just watch what happens to USC if they don't get really, really, lucky with regard to injuries.

PSU has lost, I believe, 33% more scholorships than USC, per year, and I think they have had the losses imposed for more years. They won't have a full allottment of 85 scholorship guys on the roster for nearly a decade. If they don't have the longest lucky streak in the history of college football, in terms of injury and academic performance, they are very, very, unlikely to be competitive before 2022 or so. Hell, just keeping a competent staff together is going to be a challenge.

by Independent George :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 1:02pm

But as an outsider, the question I would ask is why they have any scholarships at all remaining? Yes, losing 20 scholarships per year takes them out of the running for fielding a top tier football team. My gut reaction is still, "And what else?". Given the severity of the charges, this feels like a slap on the wrist. I just can't equate a criminal conspiracy regarding sexual abuse of minors with 20 lost scholarships. 'Severe for the NCAA' just seems meaningless to me.

by DavidL :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 1:26pm

It would be interesting to see what would happen to PSU football if they had to operate with no athletic scholarships at all for four years (and there was strict scrutiny to prevent the abuse of “academic” scholarships or financial-aid grants to serve the same purpose). I assume they'd still try and field a team because ticket sales make the world go 'round in State College, but what that team would look like, what its culture would be and how that state of affairs would affect things after the ban ended would make for a really neat case study.

(I realize you probably meant disbanding the team altogether, but that's comparatively boring as a sociology experiment)

by MJK :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 1:50pm

For that matter, what would happen if athletic scholarships were eliminated entirely for every school, and that pot of money was replaced with need-based academic scholarships?

by JMM* (not verified) :: Wed, 07/25/2012 - 5:26pm

You would have the Ivy League.

by Independent George :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 1:58pm

The fact that this punishment is considered severe just confirms to me how completely screwed up the NCAA is.

My punishment would have been along the lines of the following:

1. The university is fined the equivalent of all revenues generated by the Football team from 1998-2011. This amount is to be audited, and includes (but is not limited to) television & radio contracts, bowl game earnings, ticket and merchandise sales, advertising revenues, and alumni contributions earmarked for the football team.
2. Unpaid balances from #1 above shall also be subject to an interest rate of Prime + 1%.
3. 50% of the amount collected from #s 1-2 above is to be distributed evenly among Penn State all opponents from 1998-2011, with one share for each game played.
4. The remaining 50% collected shall be distributed to the abuse victims named. This amount is a good-faith payment in addition to any civil damages awarded or settlements reached.
5. The team will have 0 athletic scholarships until the greater of (a) five years have elapsed, or (b) the amount specified in #1 above is paid off, plus one year.
6. All players that transfer to other institutions will not be counted against the scholarship limit in their new schools for two years.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 2:08pm

I'm not saying you are wrong, but if that penalty was imposed, and I was a trustee at Penn State (God forbid), I think my ethical obligation would be to vote to end intercollegiate athletics at Penn State, rather than follow the NCAA edicts.

by Independent George :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 2:14pm

Which I would be 100% ok with.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 2:21pm

Now you are getting to the fundamental question of whether intercollegiate athletics is congruent with, or serves the educational mission of a university. I have mixed opinions on this, leaning towards that it doesn't, but if I were to believe that it does, then I could not support your proposed punishment, because doing so harms the educational environment of the tens of thousands of Penn State students.

by Kal :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 8:35pm

In this case, it's pretty clear that intercollegiate athletics was not congruent with or served the educational mission of the school in any remote way.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 8:41pm

I am increasingly of the belief that it rarely does.

by JasonG (not verified) :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 3:32pm

Just needed to say I love, love, love this idea. In vacating all those wins (an absolutely meaningless gesture) what the NCAA is attempting to say is "This program sacrificed young boys in order to maintain its reputation, wins and money. Hence during every one of those years this program was ineligible."

Well, the rep is gone already and taking the wins away is worthless. Take the freaking money away. That's what will actually really hurt them and get every other university's attention, too. Pilfer the athletic department and university until it's dry, sure, but the first dollars should come from the five monsters at the heart of all this. Take every last penny they have. Really Randolph and Mortimer them. That's all these assholes cared about right? Power and money, certainly more than they cared about 11-year-old boys being sodomized. The next money should come from all the Trustees. Again, every penny. And btw why do they all still have jobs? And their freedom for that matter?

by Scott C :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 8:56pm

I agree that the punishment needs to be severe. But some punishment has massive collateral damage that hurts many that are not responsible in any way for what happened. It needs to hurt the football program more than it hurts the university or its students. Football revenue funds the other sports on all NCAA campuses, taking the money away hurts all sports. Taking enough away hurts the general finances of the university and the quality of education.

I favor very strong and severe action for those responsible for what happened. But that has more to do with the punishments brought by law enforcement and the judicial system than with NCAA actions. The NCAA is not the judicial system.

by Scott C :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 8:50pm

The collateral damage from a penalty that severe would be huge. If it was enforced, you are talking $700M, the destruction of every scholarship for every student athlete of any sport, the likely destruction of many non-athletic student's quality of education.

There are people that need to be held to justice for their actions. But the above is like dropping a nuke on a city of millions to take out a couple terrorists. Does every fan that bought a season ticket any time in the last 13 years bear responsibility for these crimes too? Maybe we should send them to a gulag by association with Joe Paterno.

by InfiniteThoughtsForever (not verified) :: Thu, 07/26/2012 - 8:55am

I like your idea. PSU alumni will decry this as excessive but it will drive fear & make the rest of NCAA sit up and notice. It tells all football teams that putting a game however enjoyable above human values will have zero tolerance

by Will Allen :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 1:54pm

Hey, there's a reason why I said no opinion on whether the punishment was sufficient. A for-profit, private sector business would have a decent chance of facing a chapter 7 dissolution in the face of an event like this, like Arthur Anderson in the wake of the Enron scandal. That obviously can't happen to Penn State University. As to why the NCAA did what they did, I have come to the conclusion that the NCAA is in massive violation of antitrust law on a continual basis, under any intellectually honest examination of the facts, and I don't have much in the way of expectation when it comes to the behavior of cartels engaging in illegal collusion.

by FrontRunningPhinsFan :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 1:20pm

I could be wrong on that - I was only basing it on NFL roster limits/practice squad limits - i.e. what's the difference in talent/value between the 65th guy and 85th guy on the roster?

I know you weren't discussing it in the context of whether the punishment is sufficient. But I was just using it to state that, in my opinion, it's not nearly as bad as the death penalty - let alone worse.

Fire Jeff Ireland.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 2:00pm

When you are not allowed to keep any player more than 4 or 5 years, that gap between 65 and 85 is gigantic.

Actually, the one argument I'd make against this sanction, in terms of it being too harsh, is on the basis of a team trying to play the Ohio States, Michigans, Wisconsins and Nebraskas, etc., with only 65 scholorships. From a player safety standpoint, you really may be endangering people you ahve a responsibility to protect, and an effort to punish behavior by people no longer connected to Penn State. There is a reasonable argument that the death penalty would be more eithical for that reason.

by DoubleB65 (not verified) :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 3:03am

What are you envisioning when PSU would get off this hypothetical death penalty? A full 85 scholarship football team?

It doesn't work that way. Provided everyone left, and I think that's a fair assumption, they'd have 25 scholarship kids when they got back. How is having 25 scholarship kids for 1 year and 50 max for a 2nd year more ethical than having 65 for 4?

by Will Allen :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 8:35am

I'm envisioning the NCAA can design anything they want.

by tuluse :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 12:57pm

40 scholarships

by FrontRunningPhinsFan :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 1:03pm

What I read (not the attached link, it was somewhere else) said they'd have a max of 65 scholarships per year and the normal amount is 85. You've seen something different?

The link I read also said they could split some full scholarships into partial scholarships to have more total. How that works is going beyond my knowledge of college football though.

Fire Jeff Ireland.

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 2:18pm

I've also read they would have 65 total scholarships on SI, ESPN, and the St Louis Post Dispatch site. This cap doesn't even begin until 2014. I am guessing the 10 initial scholarship limit has something to do with reducing it from 85 next year.

From my POV, this may even become an incentive for some high school players to go to PSU. If I'm the coach, I tell potential recruits that other schools may redshirt them. PSU will pretty much have to play students their first year. Players want to play.

Penn State got off extremely light, all things considered. The PSU faithful will still consider JoePa the all-time win holder, even if he's not in the record book as such. The number of scholarship losses hurts, but isn't devastating. Not playing a bowl simply means the regular season becomes even more important; imagine if the team goes 10-1 and can't go to a bowl. The fans will say the team might have been national champs if not for the bowl restriction. The loss of money hurts, but can be overcome. I'm not impressed.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 2:31pm

They may get by this year competitively, depending on how many underclassmen take up the offer to transfer without delay on playing, and how much talent is on their senior roster, given I think seniors would be hesitant to make that move.

This school was having a very tough time winning nine or ten games as it was, given the erosion of talent from western PA. This isn't USC with a dynamic recruiter, in terms of being a talent magnet. I don't think they'll be playing in major bowl game before 2025 at the earliest, and who knows what college football will look like by then.

by Independent George :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 1:04pm

80 - the blurb doesn't quite match the link. It's 20 total scholarships per year, 10 of them being initial scholarships (recruits).

That seems... light.

by Sophandros :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 3:09pm

I can see how someone who may not follow college football can think that going from 85 scholarships on a roster and 25 new scholarships a year to 65 and 15 is a light punishment, but it really isn't.

What the NCAA did was essentially convert Penn State into a FCS team from a FBS team.

So basically, they morphed them from Penn State into Lehigh, without the benefit of playing Lehigh's schedule.

Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

by DavidL :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 3:22pm

without the benefit of playing Lehigh's schedule.

Speaking as a Bucknell almumnus, I can't argue with that.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 3:27pm

They are gonna be about three injuries away from having a 220 pound walk-on center going up against a 310 pound nose tackle ready to play for the Steelers.

by Sophandros :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 3:50pm

I wouldn't go THAT far, but they are going to get their souls crushed for the next decade or so.

Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

by DoubleB65 (not verified) :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 2:54am

So what's USC with it's 75 scholarships? A C-USA team?

The scholarship reductions hurt badly but it doesn't make them an FCS school or even a MAC one.

Hell even off the death penalty SMU managed to beat I-AA UConn and North Texas in 1989 with 42 scholarships and Vanderbilt by 37 in 1990 with what I presume to be about 70. And this was the age of the 95 scholarship limitation

USC is a national title contender with only 75 scholarships this year. You can win games and compete with 65 scholarships. You probably have to develop a major walk-on program for starters.

By no stretch is it easy, but I'm reminded of the CM Newton quote when Kentucky hoops was nearly given the death penalty in 1989: "We could have been shut down.... The way you get shut down is where you can't recruit.... We are not shut down."

by Will Allen :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 8:33am

If you can recruit one player in hoops, you are not shut down, because depth is of very little value in college basketball. Western PA just isn't the talent pipeline it used to be, and in no way compares to Southern CA in that regard. It is also the length of the penalties here which is so significant; keeping a competent staff together is going to be a challenge.

Yes, the damage can be overstated, but this penalty is very strong. A two year death penalty may well have been less severe.

by Sophandros :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 3:01pm

"What makes you think so?
They've lost:
The equivalent to a year's worth of profit."

No. They lost more than a year's worth of REVENUE. Which is larger than profit.

"20 total scholarships which equates about to practice squad players who may never dress, let alone actually play."

False. On so many counts.

They go from a max of 85 scholarships to 65 scholarships per year, plus they're only allowed to bring in 15 scholarship players per year instead of 25. That's putting them at the FCS (formerly known as Division 1-AA) level in terms of scholarship players. And the level of talent is going to drastically decrease. They won't get back up to 85 scholarship players on their roster until around 2020.

So they'll be getting their butts handed to them in every game, which decreases the likelihood of filling the stadium (more revenue lost) and bringing in top talent.

From a football perspective, getting the death penalty would be preferred. At least then, you get to wipe the slate clean and start fresh. In this scenario, the stench of this scandal will linger.

Regarding you comment about "players who won't play anyway", you clearly don't follow college football. Sure, a lot of those guys don't get on the field, but NOW those are the guys who are going to be in you top 65, getting destroyed by Indiana and Northwestern.

"A bunch of vacated wins which I think most people would agree, amount to exaclt zilch."

That means a lot, actually. It erases Paterno from the record books.

"In my opinion, nothing BUT the death penalty is sufficient."

The death penalty ruins the lives of the people who rely on the program to get by. That sort of collateral damage isn't just. It also hurts Penn State's current and future opponents.

I know that all of you who are part of the angry mob want as much blood spilled as possible, but take a step back and look at the repercussions of these penalties in the big picture. And then consider the fact that it's not over.

In my opinion, the Big Ten's decision to censure Penn State is a step that opens the door to kicking them out of the conference, pending what the feds (particularly the Dept. of Education) decide to do.

This is far from over, and the damage to Penn State is far from being done.

Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 3:11pm

Again, I really do think this penalty may be ethically problematic from a player safety perspective. It's one thing for a program with 65 scholorship players of lesser talent to go play three or four paycheck games a year against vastly superior and deeper talent. To play nine or ten may really be pushing the boundaries of player well being.

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 6:21pm

Good post. The only part I'd quibble a bit with is the part about how the death penalty would erase the stench of the scandal. Nothing was going to do that and there'd have been way more focus on the scandal whenever they restarted football than there will be when the scholarship sanctions are finally over.

Tough call, but if I were PSU I'd probably rather take the lumps while the team is getting destroyed for a few years and basically let the stories get played out than face the embarrassment of no football then have the scandal reborn when I went to restart the program.

by FrontRunningPhinsFan :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 9:25am

From Mike Ozanian, who does sports business reporting for Forbes:

"Department of Education data for the 2010-11 year (latest available, released after our last valuation ranking) show that under the late Joe Paterno the Nittany Lions were an economic powerhouse: $72.7 million in revenue vs. operating expenses of $19.5 million."

So $53 MM in profit. I was exaggerating on "equivalent" but its closer to profit than revenue. My main point is that it's only one year. For more than a decade of despicable behavior.

You're right that I don't follow college football much. Maybe 20 scholarships per year is a bigger deal than I've made it out to be. You're certainly not the first person to say that I'm wrong. But I think 85 fewer scholarships would hurt more. And be far more prudent.

As far as vacated wins meaning nothing - I think you're in a vast minority here. No one is going to "forget" that Joe Paterno won those games. Teams that lost bowl games to Penn State during that period aren't all of a sudden celebrating their wins.

Will made a point earlier in the thread that I've been making to people in my office when I'm up on my soap box - If this happened to a corporation, there's a good chance the company goes under. And everyone can lose their jobs. Were they responsible for it? No. Do they feel the brunt of it for the guilty parties' actions? Absolutely. To be honest I don't want fans, alumni, local business and whoever else still supporting Penn State football. I WANT them to hate everything about what happened and blame these people for their despair. I honestly feel anyting less is diminishing the horror the victims had to endure. Again - if the hypothetical company above is my biggest client as an employee for another company, do I still get something when that company goes under? Nope - I've just lost the account. Time to get out try to recuperate the business elsewhere. If I complain about my loss is anyone going to do anything about it? No - everyone just wants to see the guilty parties punished. The fans and alumni can go cheer for another team. The local businesses can stay in business some other way or go under and the owners/employees do something else. This happens all the time and no one cares. When something this heinous happens, why should there be any difference?

I hope you're right about further penalties from other groups. In my opinion they haven't gotten nearly what they deserve.

Fire Jeff Ireland.

by 'nonymous (not verified) :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 11:00am

It is an interesting point that a corporation facing a similar scandal might collapse entirely, bringing pain and loss to many innocent people; that's a telling picture of just how destructive evil is. But that particular comparison cannot be used in support of punitive sanctions unless you are actually suggesting that two wrongs make a right.

The NCAA claimed that their sanctions accomplished some good, despite the many innocent people who would suffer harm from them. I personally think it is out of proportion, since most of the sanctions affect none of those directly responsible, for an issue unrelated to competitive balance; but I accept that reasonable people may disagree. However, arguing for the NCAA sanctions and further punitive measures because of the harm they will do to innocent people associated with Penn State is something we must absolutely reject.

I, and many others, will continue to cheer for the Penn State Nittany Lions; and there is no moral weakness in doing so. I don't even know of any rumors suggesting that the players or coaches who will take the field this fall have any complicity in this scandal. I come by my Penn State fandom honestly and still have many ties to State College; my outrage at this scandal hasn't changed that.

by Independent George :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 11:33am

PSU actively concealed criminal activity for years in order to protect its football team. The notion that the team will now win fewer games does not strike me as a fitting punishment. The university proved that it cannot be trusted with its football program. Therfore, it shouldn't be trusted with a football program. I find any penalty which allows the football team to continue to operate entirely unsatisfactory.

Moreover, they profited from that conspiracy for over a decade; I view the revenues generated by the football program over that time period in exactly the same way I view mob assets. It doesn't matter that only a small number of people were involved; they acted as representatives of PSU when they did it. To me, a $60M fine seems like a nice start.

by chemical burn :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 11:41am

The mob comparison is sort of funny in terms of all the talk of innocent people hurt by the sanctions - you know when you buy a stolen car and the police find out, you don't get to keep the car even if you didn't know it was stolen.

by Independent George :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 12:02pm

Let's put it another way: if you invested with Bernie Madoff in good faith, and managed to sell before it all blew up, then you breathe a sigh of relief and count your blessings (and your earnings).

If you represent Bernie Madoff's largest investor, accounting for 30% of his portfolio, discover the shenanigans, and then actively conceal the aforementioned shenanigans for years while gradually divesting yourself in order to avoid drawing attention to said shenanigans, then you are an accessory and the assets can be seized, even if it means your employer (and any firms with significant exposure to your employer) also goes under.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 1:17pm

Actually even the wholly innocent Madoff investors, who got lucky by selling before the scheme blew up, have had their profits clawed back by the courts, to be redistributed to those who were wiped out.

Like I said before, I think the NCAA is in some respects a criminal organization, and I am uncomfortable with signing off on a criminal organization as moral arbiter. If I were satisfied that the NCAA was not engaged in violating Federal law on an ongoing basis, I think I would be more inclined to favor a penalty which punished the individuals involved, by making them personally liable for the wrongdoing, and having any judgments non-dischargeable through bankruptcy, just like a student loan, and permanently banishing them from the industry. I would prefer to see the fine to PSU increased to about a decade's worth of profits, say about $500 million, in addition to any civil judegments. I would forgo the future penalties for the PSU football program, simply because they don't punish the wrongdoers at all.

by Independent George :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 2:07pm

Actually even the wholly innocent Madoff investors, who got lucky by selling before the scheme blew up, have had their profits clawed back by the courts, to be redistributed to those who were wiped out.

I thought that was still in court? Most of the analysis I'd read (which was, admittedly, a long time ago) indicated it was unlikely that good-faith investors would have to pay back their earnings, as it is impossible to track dollars which have already been moved and reinvested. To go back to the stolen car example, the police can seize the car, but if I'd already traded it in for a new vehicle, they can't seize the new car or demand I repay the FMV of the stolen one.

For Madoff, the example I remember was this: if I invested 50k with, then sold for 100k to put down a deposit on a house, do I have to sell the house to pay back the other investors? How does it change if the house is now 50k, 100k, or 20k underwater? What if I only have 10k in my savings account, but had increased my 401k contributions by 50k in the subsequent years since selling my shares? What if I increased my 401k contributions by 25k, but got a 25k company match - is all of that subject to repayment? Do I have to cash it in early, and take the penalty in the process?

This was culled from op-eds/blog posts/questions to attorneys, though, and I have no idea what the actual court decision was. I'd be even more angry if there was, in fact, any such an obligation.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 3:05pm

Maybe the Supreme Court has still to indicate interest, but this.....


......seems to indicate that clawback suits are still viable.

by MTR (not verified) :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 2:11pm

I don't understand your logic. That money, be it $60 million or $500 million is going to come from Penn State students and the taxpayers of the state of Pennsylvania. I don't see why you'd see that as fair but pulling scholarships as unfair.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 3:01pm

The money comes from people who voluntarily interact with Penn State's football program. Taking away scholorships means that there are 10 fewer 18 year olds in the United States who receive a college education on scholorship.

by chemical burn :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 3:14pm

But at some doesn't the apparatus that allowed Paterno and Sandusky to act above the law have to take a hit? Without the prestige and power of the Penn State football program, there's literally no way Sandusky commits the exact crimes he committed.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 4:09pm

That's what the 500 million dollar fine is for. That is why I want hold individuals in the apparatus personally liable, unable to discharge the liability via bankruptcy.

I already think the 18 year olds are being screwed. If you are going to ask me to agree to screwing them harder, no thanks.

by Seth D. (not verified) :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 4:24pm

Given that Sandusky committed assaults off campus and through his charity, the Second Mile, at sites as varied as his home or area High Schools I'm gonna have to throw the BS flag on this one. Certainly, some of the assaults wouldn't have happened in the exact same way had there been no program, but he found plenty of alternatives.

I guess you could say that without PSU football, Sandusky would not have been in a position of prestige/authority, or in position to found Second Mile. Those things, in turn, enabled his abuse of children. That seems like a bit of a reach to me though.

by chemical burn :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 4:31pm

huh? "guess you could say that without PSU football, Sandusky would not have been in a position of prestige/authority, or in position to found Second Mile. Those things, in turn, enabled his abuse of children. That seems like a bit of a reach to me though." That's exactly what I'm saying and I'm shocked to hear it would even be disputed. His position of power and the school's willingness to cover up his crimes are exactly what allowed his abuse to occur the way it did - otherwise, what is even being discussed here?

And to reply to Will I think "screwing 18 year olds" who are ready willing and able to acquiesce whatever limited power they have to the evil-doing apparatus has to be part of the equation. You can't as a student/athlete attempt to exploit the power structure of Penn State to your advantage (e.g. scholarships, prestige/community respect, audition for the NFL) and then say "this has nothing to do with me" when that power structure is used to engage in evil activity. It has to sting everyone, top to bottom, or nothing can possibly change. (Not that I think this will change college football culture.)

by 'nonymous (not verified) :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 8:44pm

Penn State bears blame for the cover-up of Sandusky's crimes, but not the fact of the crimes. Sure it would have looked different, but Sandusky could and would have used success in any field to abuse children-- and he was very good at hiding his crimes. He passed all of the evaluations required to become a foster parent; there's no reason to think his Penn State affiliation helped him there other than as a good job where he had a good name.

Yes, Penn State failed to report Sandusky, missing a chance to convict him and to prevent another decade's worth of abuse. That's terrible, and that's what's being discussed here.

I'm not quite clear on what your final point is. Are you suggesting that all big college football programs, including all athletes and staff, are complicit in this scandal because they participate in this power structure? Or are you suggesting that there is something fundamentally unique to the popularity, prestige, and profitability of the Penn State football program, such that the athletes who committed to Penn State a year ago are complicit in this scandal?

I have to disagree with both suggestions. There's a lot of unhealthiness in college football, but I still believe it's possible to act honorably within that system and to bear no blame for all of its faults and excesses.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 10:09pm

Some 18 year old who has never set foot on the Penn State campus has to pay a price? Like I said, count me out.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 07/25/2012 - 12:49pm

Yes. Of the people who give Penn State the impunity to assist in committing these horrific crimes has to feel the sting. Incoming students for several years will still be giving power to a deeply corrupt and evil apparatus because moving on as though nothing has happened is enabling it to continue existing without meaningful change. It's just too easy to pass the buck otherwise. The problem here is Sandusky and the Penn State brass, but it is also the environment and system which gave them their power. It's not enough to get rid of the actors and swallow promises that the new guys will be totally different. Systemic changes seem unlikely (that college football has amazing power to abuse is in and of itself so very fucking absurd to begin with) so there has to be fear of systemic ramifications for future participants in the system. Especially for beneficiaries like students and related businesses. People need to understand "yes, YOU have something to do with this. You have a stake in the morality of your associations." I'm sure many do already, but clearly not enough. Plus, the less the larger Penn State community is affected by this, the easier it is for the guys up top to go back to doing what they do - it lets the corrupt actors off the hook in a significant way.

I think the difference in perspective might be between "do you want the only the directly related parties to be punished" and "do you want to prevent this sort of systemic abuse from happening again?" And if you want to argue the second question isn't possible, I'd be open to that. But let's not pretend it isn't a massive factor in what happened.

by tuluse :: Wed, 07/25/2012 - 12:59pm

I think the other concern is balancing evils here. Messing up the lives of 40,000+ students at Penn State might be a worse evil than the chance that someday someone might cover up rape.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 07/25/2012 - 1:58pm

I'm sorry, but I believe it absurd, and really, gravely immoral, to be punishing a kid who is 15 years old today, for something he has absolutely zero connection to, and practically zero influence over, so he can gain insight in 2015 as to the importance of doing the right thing.

I'd rather increase the punishment for a perjury conviction to life without parole than go down the path you are advocating; at least I am actually doling out punishment to people who have willfully engaged in wrongdoing.

by MTR (not verified) :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 7:28pm

I must be missing something. Penn State football isn't a separate entity with its own independent finances. The fine is on Penn State, the educational institution. Why do you think the money will come from anything associated with football instead of raising tuition? The football program will be a little less expensive with fewer scholarships, but that's it.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 10:10pm

Actually, I believe the Penn State Athletic Department does keep a seperate budget from the University.

by duh :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 10:17pm

Well, the president of the university said it wouldn't and the NCAA also forbid that it be taken from other athletic programs

'The NCAA specifically said Penn State can’t take the money from other sports programs the university offers to pay this fine. It said it also can’t take it from academics.

What’s more, the university’s President Rodney Erickson has pledged not to use any of its state funding, which amounts to $214 million this year, or tuition money to pay for expenses arising from the Jerry


by MTR (not verified) :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 10:47pm

Isn't that just accounting talk? Like if I say to my wife "Oh no honey, the money for that will come out of my paycheck, not yours." It's all owned by the same people in the end.

by tuluse :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 11:41pm

No, it's not owned by the same people in the end. Plenty of football money is for the football team only.

by Scott C :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 9:27pm

Clearly then, every taxpayer in the USA is a criminal by association because the federal government provides grants to universities and aid for scholarships, and should be executed.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 07/25/2012 - 12:38pm

Yes. People are talking about executions here. And I called the incoming students criminals. This is true.

Anyway, I would agree with the idea that to the extent to which my tax dollars are given to support this behavior, I am involved. I'm sorta tired of the "hey, don't hurt the innocents" attitude that has been so popular and useful recently in letting criminal organizations continue business as usual just because punishing them might hurt some poor guy who really doesn't have anything to do with it other than make his livelihood off of it and support it and give it its power in whatever small way he can.

by duh :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 10:43pm

Penn State's endowment is currently worth about around 1.7 Billion dollars, as of the most recent info I can find

The University will likely sell a bond to the endowment fund to pay the fine and then pay it back from future football revenues.

60 million is a drop in the bucket .... additionally,they can pay over 5 years as i read the NCAA sanctions


'The minimum annual payment will be $12 million until the $60 million is paid. The proceeds of this fine may not be used to fund programs at the University. No current sponsored athletic team may be reduced or eliminated in order to fund this fine.'

The fine will end up as nothing more than a rounding error to the endowment fund.

by MTR (not verified) :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 10:50pm

Ok, when you've got almost $2 billion in the bank the fine is no big deal.

by 'nonymous (not verified) :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 4:10pm

I think the question is just what good end the NCAA's sanctions are supposed to accomplish: deterrence? reparation? punishment of the guilty? prevention? That's what should be weighed against the cost.

In the case of a stolen car or Madoff's investment scheme, property or money could be taken, even if from innocent participants, in order to be restored to its rightful owners. No part of the NCAA sanctions involves giving back to the victims, certainly not the severe handicapping of the football team. I suppose the $60M fine is symbolically for the victims-- but won't this $60M simply pilfer the pool of available money for PSU's settlements directly to the victims? I believe these settlements are already being worked out; failing that, they will be enforced by civil suits. I am more comfortable with the legal process overseeing these payments than the NCAA. And Penn State, students, and alumni are already raising funds for sexual abuse awareness, prevention, and aid for victims. Was any of this considered by the NCAA? (Of course, none of this erases the suffering of the victims, a tragically impossible task. But I am very grateful for those who work to counsel, heal, and restore the victims; and it's good that Penn State should cover that cost for these victims and more.)

by chemical burn :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 4:34pm

Well, once you start talking about 10 of millions of dollars for the victims themselves, those amounts aren't "helping" them in any meaningful way - those amounts are meant to be punitive. These are all gestures to hurt Penn State and that's all the NCAA can really be in the business of doing, right? Punish the guilty party?

by Scott C :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 9:22pm

Profits from a football program pay for all the other athletics (other than Men's BB) in most schools, typically for close to zero total net gain.

Ironically, the NCAA and a sports program actually has merit IMO only IF it has a net profit -- because then the profit is being spent outside of athletics on education.

What you are saying is that either:
There is net profit and therefore every person who was educated or employed at the university is part of this mafia organization and should pay.
There was not net profit outside of athletics and so all other athletes are part of the mafia and should be punished.

I disagree completely. This sort of logic can easily be applied to justify any action on anyone by association with the US government via being a citizen or taxpayer. This is the sort of guilty by association logic that Bin Laden justified killing anyone.

The punishments must be severe for those responsible. However, extending collateral damage to those who had no knowledge or responsibility to know about what was going on starts becoming unethical. Would you take money away from a Janitor who worked there in 2002 cleaning classrooms because the money was 'dirty'?

by Seth D. (not verified) :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 4:13pm

Unless your office is in feudal Scotland, your opinion is seriously out there:

"Robert MacDougal ha' sinned in the eyes o' God and men! Let him and all o' his clan taste the cold o' our steel, and then burn in the fires o' H---!"

We as a society abandoned that way of thinking some time ago. We punish the guilty, but where possible we do so WITHOUT hurting the innocent. This doesn't make us weak, it makes us civilized. Sandusky abused those boys. Schultz, Curly, probably Paterno and possibly Spanier helped cover it up. That's all the information we have. None of the other coaches/players/fans/business owners etc. had any part in it. The people who actually did something wrong or failed to do something right are in jail, dead and disgraced, or soon to be in jail.

The basis for these sanctions, as far as I can tell, is that if football hadn't been so important/valuable this wouldn't have happened. Maybe. I get that it's about deterrence: "If you want to protect your precious programs, better come clean!" I guess that's a legitimate objective, though in my opinion it doesn't justify the price tag.

But you don't really seem to care about that objective. You just want all those stinking Penn State types to PAY for the pain their clan caused. Sorry mate, things don't work that way any more.

by chemical burn :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 4:38pm

But isn't wanting to do damage to a power-structure that was employed in service of real evil (child rape. CHILD RAPE.) a legitimate response? I'm not sure a "well, whoops, maybe the next guy will be more diligent about stopping evil" sorta inadequate? I actually have no real firm ideas about how the punishment should have been meted out, but I think accusing those outraged by the crimes and cover-up of being petty or somehow self-interested is a really wrong-headed note to strike.

by 'nonymous (not verified) :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 7:26pm

I agree that the response should focus on the administration and any "culture of secrecy" present there, not on the football team. All those known to be responsible have been removed, and at least two more criminal trials are pending (which the NCAA should have waited for, if it were interested in an informed response). For what it's worth, the Freeh report is fairly positive about changes in the administration since the scandal broke; that's encouraging to me and does more for preventing future abuse than anything the NCAA did.

by MTR (not verified) :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 7:49pm

Two points.

Isn't that the job of the courts, not the NCAA? And aren't they in the process of doing that job?

The power of Penn State football wasn't the problem, the power of Paterno was, even when Paterno wasn't making decisions. Let me explain that a little better.

I've been around a cult of personality situation and seen it in action. People start doing things in the leader's name just like things are done in the name of "liberty" or "justice" or "truth." People think what the leader would like, even speaking with him, and use that to justify their actions. Unless you've seen it in action it can be hard to credit.

That's gone at Penn State; it died with Paterno. And whatever sanction the NCAA gives, it won't destroy the atmosphere around other program controlling coaches. Florida State isn't going to decide Bobby Bowden still has a dangerous amount of influence and force him to disassociate himself from the program. Nick Saben isn't going to be fired because he's gotten too powerful and popular in Alabama.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 07/25/2012 - 9:22am

I think the guy who has really gotten an undeserved pass on this is McQueary. A grown-ass man encounters an adult having sex with a child, and he has to talk to his father before calling police? Absolutely contemptible. McQuerary was the adult with the most direct knowledge of the rapist's actions, and he decided to look the other way, and, it appears, would not even plainly describe what he saw to Paterno.

by Dean :: Wed, 07/25/2012 - 11:41am

I wonder - and I have no evidence to support this - if perhaps he's holed away somewhere and has further testimony to provide in the criminal cases against the administration? If he's copped a plea in exchange for testimony, that would explain a lot. If he hasn't, then you ask a very good question.

Either way, he escapes a lot of wrath simply by being the first adult to come forward, even if it was a decade too late.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 07/25/2012 - 11:57am

I really doubt that the full measure of the wrongdoing here can be obtained without Sandusky's cooperation, which is why I'd favor letting him choose the prison he gets to die in, in return for getting a full account from him. Then again, the rapist may be so self-deluded at this point that he would be unable to give an honest account.

by MTR (not verified) :: Wed, 07/25/2012 - 1:18pm

It may be worse than you think. From what one reporter heard between Sandusky and his lawyer during the trial Sandusky still thinks he helped those kids! That they benefited from him! The Onion had a headline "Sandusky upset he didn't get to tell romantic, tender side of the story," and it seems to be the truth. I can't imagine what's going on in his head.

by tuluse :: Wed, 07/25/2012 - 1:22pm

Maybe he's trying for an insanity plea.

by FrontRunningPhinsFan :: Wed, 07/25/2012 - 1:56pm

Let me rephrase-

I don't want the Penn State types punished for this scandal. I just don't want them to have the opportunity to benefit from what allowed this. (Benefit in the sense that they get some form of enjoyment from the entity that allowed this)

If they consider not having a football team to cheer for anymore their own punishment, that's their interpretation. But I want the interpretation to be "We had something great here, but the decision makers made reprehensible decisions which have shamed our football program and our university. They are not heroes. They are not leaders. They are despicable and through their actions have destroyed something we once loved."

Now - as far as the university/football program itself - I want the system in place to be punished as severely as possible. In my opinion, not be allowed to play football.

I don't want any fan/alumni/whatever specifically punished who had no direct involvement, but again, it's not their punishment. If they want to blame someone, blame those who let it happen. Don't claim they're innocent and should'nt be punished. They're not being punished. The institution is.

Fire Jeff Ireland.

by FrontRunningPhinsFan :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 12:40pm

duplicate deleted.

by MJK :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 1:48pm

So I haven't been following this whole situation very closely (other than a vague awareness that Sandusky was a guilty, and therefore a filthy piece of trash, and that Paterno and other school administrators were aware and therefore tacitly complicit). But isn't a school's football program and the criminal actions of its employees (as long as those criminal actions don't pertain to the football program) two different things? If Sandusky or Paterno had gone out and murdered someone, or robbed a bank, even if they did it on campus, would the football program have been punished? Should it be?

If it's really the case that the school was aware of what Sandusky was doing and brushed it under the rug in the interest of fielding a winning football team, I could see the logic behind punishing the program, to send a message that "winning above all else" is not cool.

But what's the point of vacating Paterno's wins? Wouldn't that kind of be like vacating all the Falcon's wins they had when Michael Vick was a QB, after it came out that Vick had been doing criminal actions while playing for them? Paterno's and Sandusky's actions, while criminal, didn't contribute to the football team winning (except by the very roundabout argument that he was allowed to retain Sandusky)--it's not like they were giving their players performance enhancing drugs or hiring hits on opposing star players, or breaking into places to steal opposing playbooks...

A win is a reflection of which team played better on a day, not how odious or criminal the people involved in it are.

by tuluse :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 1:52pm

It's called lack of institutional control. It's not that Sandusky committed the crimes that the school is being punished for. It's that they didn't do anything to stop it.

Also, vacating wins is the stupidest punishment in the world. It doesn't matter what the reason is.

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 2:28pm

I agree with your point that if Sandusky or Paterno had gone out and murdered someone or robbed a bank the football program would not have been punished. Nor should it have been. But if the school had then covered it up, and pressured the local police to not even investigate it and drop all the charges, I believe the program should also be punished - especially if it had been the head football coach who wanted all this done.

The Vick case is irrelevant. The dog abuse with Vick was discovered in the offseason and Vick pled guilty before then next season started. At that point, the NFL suspended him. There were no games between when anyone but the perpetrators knew about the crime and Vick's suspension.

by MTR (not verified) :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 2:33pm

This isn't going to be a popular comment, but... I agree that the NCAA is on very shaky legal ground here. While lots of laws were broken, no NCAA rules were. I think it would have been much wiser for the NCAA to have stayed on the sidelines and let the criminal courts do their work. Granted, they're slower, but they have the ability to give penalties that make these sanctions look like a day at the beach.

In addition, and I admit it may be just me, if you punish all of the tens or hundreds of thousands of people connected with Penn State over the last fifteen years, I feel its like your lessening the guilt of the men who actually did the cover up. Spreading it around thins it out, as it were. I would rather see the full weight fall on the perpetrators. For that reason, I can agree with vacating Paterno's wins (he was responsible) more than I can agree with vacating scholarships (which none of the guilty people give a damn about). It would have made more sense to me if the NCAA had given Paterno the "death penalty" and permanently stricken him from all NCAA record books, but left the active program alone.

by JasonG (not verified) :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 3:36pm

Not shaky ground at all. Penn State voluntarily agreed to all these sanctions and waived all rights to appeal. There is no legal recourse for anyone at this point.

by MTR (not verified) :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 5:30pm

Not fighting them for PR/moral reasons is different from not having a case.

by Kal :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 8:37pm

Not practically.

by erniecohen :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 4:39pm

I agree with everything you say. The NCAA is basically using their power to punish crimes that simply lie outside of their jurisdiction, and doing so simply because (1) they want to, (2) it makes them look good, and (3) nobody can stop them. In doing so, they basically don't give a crap about the innocent people they are punishing at the same time. The murder hypothetical is exactly what I was thinking of when I heard of the punishment.

by VCS (not verified) :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 12:53am

Let's not forget that Sandusky's semi-official association with Penn State Football and Paterno was the major reason he access to these kids in the first place. If Penn State had quietly cut ties with him in 1998, there very well might have been far fewer victims, regardless of the later coverup.

And yes, if he was axe-murdering kids in the football showers instead of whatever he was doing, the punishment would have been just as bad or worse.

by Seth D. (not verified) :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 4:32pm

The major way he got access was through his charity, the Second Mile. If you read the grand jury report, you see that many of his assaults came off campus, either at his home or local schools, rec centers, etc. Certainly, his association with the program helped, but by no means is it a case of football=abuse, and no football=no abuse.

by chemical burn :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 4:41pm

It's pretty open and shut - if Jerry Sandusy owned a deli and wasn't the LB coach at Linebacker U, he wouldn't have a charity. If the Penn State brass didn't cover up his actions, he would have been stopped from committing several of his crimes. If Penn State isn't Penn State, they don't have that power. And Penn State runs on the legend of JoePa.

by VCS (not verified) :: Thu, 07/26/2012 - 4:19am

My understanding is that Second Mile was heavily associated with Penn State Football, and I question whether it would have even existed if it wasn't promoted by Paterno's buddy.

by 'nonymous (not verified) :: Thu, 07/26/2012 - 9:58am

I believe Sandusky served as a foster parent first, abusing children sent into his home, including the son he eventually adopted. He founded the Second Mile in 1977, and all of his abuse convictions arise from children he met through the charity.

Certainly his money and connections helped him start the Second Mile, and the charity received lots of money through Penn State and football connections. However, the Second Mile is much bigger than just a charity associated to Penn State football and funneling kids to Sandusky. It has served over 100,000 children throughout Pennsylvania each year, and has attracted major corporate donations and national recognition over the last few decades. Certainly its many volunteers and offices have done a lot of good, honest work with children.

I'm sure there has been, and must be, careful investigation to uncover any complicity in Sandusky's crimes or any wider network of abuse within the Second Mile; but I haven't heard of any evidence of abuse other than Sandusky's. The Second Mile Charity is dissolving as an organization, and will turn over its assets and work to other charities.

by Temo :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 2:11pm

So who officially has the win for the 2010 Penn State vs. Ohio State game?

by DavidL :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 2:14pm

If you think about that game too hard, the flying time monkeys Christopher Eccleston fought in his season of Doctor Who appear and eat Happy Valley.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 2:15pm

In all seriosuness, I think you have just answered the trivia question "How can two teams playing a college football game against each other both lose?".

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 2:22pm


by Solomon :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 8:30pm

No one. Before any sanctions occurred, Ohio State prevailed on the field, 38-14. The NCAA then vacated all wins in 2010 for OSU. My understanding is that from OSU's perspective, the game never happened (vacated win). However, it was not a forfeit -- OSU did not receive a loss. OSU's record from 2010 went from 12-1 to 0-1 (not 0-13).

There is no impact to PSU for this game from either set of sanctions. PSU retains its loss, as only wins were vacated.

Vacating wins creates the oddity of having one team lose a game but the other team not winning it.

Personally, I wish the NCAA would not vacate wins from schools.

by Kurt (a different one) (not verified) :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 5:26pm

I believe that the NCAA sanctioning Penn State's football program is going to have less effect than the new university administration doing anything. Five years from now it will be back to "business as usual" which is what the NCAA and the alumni want.

If the NCAA doesn't step in to play "bad guy" the university's new administration (president, AD, board, etc.) would need to do something to show they were serious about getting the university re-centered on education as compared to athletics and football in particular. With such steps leading to further pushback and complaints from alumni and sports boosters. Instead, they can just point at the NCAA, play the victim card, and work to ride things out rather than trying to make actual changes.

by tuluse :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 5:51pm

No one involved wants what you're suggesting. They just want to make sure no one is raped.

by 'nonymous (not verified) :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 9:06pm

I got a graduate degree at Penn State and taught classes there just a few years ago. I disagree with the general claim that football displaces academics at Penn State.

In my teaching, I set up my spring semester exam schedules to avoid THON, a weekend-long dance marathon fundraiser to combat childhood cancer. It is the largest student-run philanthropy in the world, and raised over ten million dollars (!) this year. However, I never adjusted my classes or exam schedule for football or any other sport. I had many student-athletes in my classes, who always let me know what they would miss due to athletic events, and who took the initiative on their own to keep up with class and to schedule make-up quizzes. I also reported their class attendance and grades to the athletic department in the middle of each semester. In my years of teaching, I had some problematic or apathetic students; but not one of the dozens of student-athletes I taught was among them.

This scandal has not made me lose faith in Penn State education, Penn State students, or Penn State athletics. I don't believe there is anything especially heinous about Penn State fans-- similar levels of overexuberance, rowdiness, and online obnoxiousness can be found within dozens of other fanbases. The scandal has revealed reprehensible behavior and decisions among a handful of men I admired, and has uncovered serious problems in the Penn State administration. I hope clear evidence can be gathered to convict the guilty, and that someone can straighten out the administrative structure/culture; but I see no need to punish or disparage the rest of Penn State (though I recognize that some hardships will come to the whole university a as collateral damage of this evil).

by MJK :: Mon, 07/23/2012 - 11:26pm

The one guy I feel kind of bad for in all this is Bill O'Brien. He was a successful coordinator who had helmed one of the best offenses in the NFL for three years, and was in the running for an NFL head coaching position.

Instead, he took the head coaching job at Penn State. While he knew that there was a cloud over the position, at that point (December and early January), there was no indication that Paterno and the school were as dirty as they apparently would be known to be, and O'Brien had no way of knowing that the football program would be dismembered for the next five years.

Now he's roped into a dead-end, impossible position and tainted with a scandal that he had nothing to do with.

by andrew :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 12:38am

Is he also allowed to transfer?

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 10:32am

I realize you probably didn't mean it literally, but it bears noting that there are plenty of people to feel bad for in this mess, infinitely more so than O'Brien.

But looking specifically at O'Brien... meh. He knew there was a scandal brewing, the outcome of which was still uncertain, and he made a choice. He took a chance and it backfired. I can't muster a lot of sympathy for him.

by MJK :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 11:28am

This would never happen, but it's interesting to think about.

What if Penn State somehow, in spite of the docked scholarships, somehow fielded an amazing team anyway. What if they went undefeated and stomped every major opponent they faced. And then didn't play in any bowls and weren't in the discussion for the National Championship because of this sanction. Just hypothetically. (I know it can't happen, but bear with me).

Obviously, everyone would be screaming at the injustice, that these poor kids had played their hearts out in the face of adversity and set the world on fire, and yet were being punished because of the actions of a now-deceased or in prison people done when the current players were in grade school.

by Dean :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 12:18pm

Auburn. 1957. 1993.

by MJK :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 7:05pm

Wow, you're right.

What the heck is going on with Auburn that this would happen not once, but twice.

by Jeremy Billones :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 1:13pm

""A bunch of vacated wins which I think most people would agree, amount to exaclt zilch."

That means a lot, actually. It erases Paterno from the record books."

During a fire drill yesterday, one of our managers (not mine) made the comment that it doesn't matter if the wins are vacated because they know how many games they won.

As long as Penn State fans care more about their wins than what their school did to get them, they shouldn't be allowed to have football games.

by RC (not verified) :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 2:27pm

"As long as Penn State fans care more about their wins than what their school did to get them, they shouldn't be allowed to have football games."

The issue with your comment is that "what they did to get them" implies causation.

Sandusky stopped being a Penn State coach in 1999. What they did after that had very little to do with winning football games, and a lot to do with protecting an old-boys network.

If Penn State had pushed to have Sandusky prosecuted in 1998/2001, they probably win just as many football games.

Football wasn't the problem here, an executive level that cared more about their reputation and jobs than the safety of these children was the problem.

by chemical burn :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 3:13pm

Yeah, but you can't separate "reputation" and "the football program" which at Penn State was a hugely valuable business built significantly on its reputation. Players come to Penn State because its supposed integrity and the legend of JoePa (and even Linebacker U coach Jerry Sandusky.) Certainly, other non-player students are attracted to the university for that reason. Supporters give money for that reason. They can continue to be a well-funded, winning organization that attracts high-caliber players at least in part because of their reputation.