Should The “Sandusky” Sanctions Against Penn State Be Dropped?

The governor of Pennsylvania is now challenging – legally – the steep sanctions imposed against Penn State by the NCAA in response to the sordid Sandusky scandal. The basic argument the governor is offering is not a new one: it’s that the university and football program should not be punished for the actions of a few. And this argument remains as flawed – and offensive – as ever. 

Look, the “few” who were punished for their acts included: a former assistant coach (who sexually abused boys on the Penn State premises), the revered head coach, the athletic director, a vice president, and the president of the university. This isn’t just a “few” whose actions were reprehensible (Sandusky), misguided or worse (Paterno), and downright offensive and in fact criminal (the university officials). A university is not just an abstract entity: it’s a complex infrastructure with its own set of working rules. Clearly, at Penn State, the chain that connected the football program to the athletic program to the president of the university was exposed as being morally bankrupt and insulated from the real world for many years. Let’s also remember who the victims were – youth – and the crimes committed against them – sexual abuse.

Since the sanctions were imposed, Penn State has responded in an honorable manner. They have taken every step to rebuild the image of the university as an institution that will not put athletics ahead of the fundamental educational and moral values that it must uphold. They had vigils. They have hosted a conference on preventing child abuse. They have housed – for many years – professors and researchers who contribute much to improving the lives of children. The football program conducted itself with pride this year and showed respect for the victims.

I get, in a practical sense, that many people at Penn State are bearing the burden of the few. I congratulate them for taking this on. It’s the right thing to do. If they weren’t doing that, we’d have no confidence that things have really changed much there. I would hope that the governor of Pennsylvania would see that and support that – because his message is that we should all forget about the criminal acts that were committed there and the extensive efforts made to protect the university rather than help the victims. We should never forget what happened there. Let Penn State continue to absorb the sanctions with honor and with a forward looking perspective to be sure that the phrase “Penn State Proud” resonates in a good way.

Penn State Building via

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  1. by C. DePasquale

    On January 7, 2013 at 9:39 pm

    Maybe you should get your facts straight, Mr. Rende. The only one convicted of a crime was Sandusky. The two administrators have yet to even go to trial because the case is so weak against them. This media blitz against an honorable coach was shameful as he was an easy scapegoat. This was a Second Mile scandal as that is where he worked. The state of PA had plenty more opportunities to arrest him in 1998 – but someone how the CYS, the DPW, law enforcement officials, high school administrators, and many many others failed. The Freeh report has been torn to shreds and eventually the truth will show a different story. Notice that the B. Fine incident at Syracuse didn’t get headlines, or the professor at u.Penn who was a known offender and covered up for for years. People’s selective outrage against PSU is unwarranted. Mr. Emmert and the. NCAA only got away with the sanctions because the Universiy leadership failed to act responsibly whe the crisis hit and chose instead to cover their own tracks.