Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Corbett Is Right About Penn State

Pennsylvania Governor, Tim Corbett, has filed a lawsuit against the NCAA to drop the sanctions they placed against Penn State University due to the egregious acts of former football coach Jerry Sandusky. Many are upset and angered by these actions from the governor and for many good reasons - it keeps this story in the headlines and prevents the university and victims from moving on and starting the healing process; or the fact that Corbett supported the sanctions last year as they were handed down; or this will cost the citizens of the state millions in litigation fees.

All of this is true, but anytime a person, organization, company, or government not only abuses its powers, but expands them, then someone has to stand up against these actions. It is the principle behind the precedent the NCAA has established that is the point behind the Corbett lawsuit. Corbett is not seeking any damages but just to overturn the decisions made by the NCAA to punish Penn State.

As a Penn State alumnus nobody would like this horrible story to be removed from the news headlines. But, if Penn State suffers more media scrutiny and embarrassment (even though they are not part of the lawsuit), it is justified to correct the NCAA’s power grab. I hope Sandusky and university officials complicit in the cover up get what they deserve from the criminal justice system. I am not defending these monsters. But nothing these people did has any bearing on punishing the Penn State football program, the entire university, or the community for the appalling actions of a select few. This makes no sense.

The NCAA levies penalties against programs that cheat and violate their bylaws. Each year thousands of student athletes and coaches are arrested and many for violent crimes. However, the NCAA leaves discipline in these matters to the school and the judicial system. Why does the NCAA turn a blind eye to these violations but at the same time decide to condemn Penn State? Simple, the NCAA made a “one time rule or exception” to their powers to punish Penn State. Sandusky abusing children did not help the football program to gain any advantage over its opponents, nor did it do anything to help the small businesses that rely on a full stadium for their survival. In fact, the Sandusky scandal did nothing to garner any advantage for the university.

If Penn State is complicit in this scandal then why is local law enforcement who failed to prosecute Sandusky in 1998 not complicit (they held a grand jury investigation). Why aren’t the guidance counselors at the high school who failed to report complaints from students not complicit in this cover up? What about the justice system which hands down lenient sentences to pedophiles, are they complicit to this scandal? Of course, but for some reason Penn State is the only scape goat in these horrific crimes. There are many reasons and plenty of blame to go around for child abuse in this country, but Penn State is not one of them.

For the same reason it makes no sense to punish an entire company for the acts of a few top tier managers (lowering its stock price affects thousands of innocent people), it makes little sense to punish Penn State as a whole and the community that relies on precious football revenues. Remember, universities rely on football revenues for not only sports, but academics.

And for all those people that think Penn State covered up this act to protect its football program are misguided. Penn State is the only Division I program to NEVER be sanctioned in ANY sport by the NCAA for cheating. Penn State University has put academics in front of athletics more than any institution in this country. Just as with any cover up, the people doing the cover up are protecting themselves, their livelihoods, their egos, and their jobs. Cover ups are narcissistic in nature. Protecting the university and the football program are secondary measures in minds of people committing this cover up.

My point is that the NCAA does not have the authority to place sanctions against any university for any criminal activity that does not advance or give the university or program an unfair advantage over other institutions. The NCAA cannot make up power grab rules and guidelines as they see fit. In fact, no governing body should garner this type of power. It is not fair or just and Corbett is right to fight this or any power grab by a governing body. Maybe this is more disgrace for Penn State, but we should not forget what happened to these children and at the same time we need to make sure the culprits are punished to the fullest extent of the law and not those innocent bystanders.

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