NCAA President Mark Emmert flexed his muscle with the Penn State football sanctions coming down earlier this week. Avoiding the “Death Penalty” which would have completely shut down the football program, the NCAA decided to hit the school from all angles. They took away scholarships, past victories, ability to play in post-season games and added a huge fine. The NCAA is allowing any player who wishes to transfer from the program immediately, meaning that Penn State may have a hard time fielding a team.
With a school run by the football program, the Penn State scandal has created a horror story of the dangers of connecting an institution with a sport. The biggest development to come out of the Freeh Report on the Jerry Sandusky scandal was that the school let the crimes stand because they were more concerned about the football program. This has led NCAA President Mark Emmert to consider all options in dealing with the fall out of the worst scandal in sports history.
“This is as systemic a cultural problem as it is a football problem,” Emmert said in an interview with PBS. He also said that all options were going to be reviewed in dealing with Penn State because there was no precedent for it.
It was grossly apparent that no punishment will make up for the fact that Sandusky was allowed to carry out his crimes for more than a decade after it was well known within Penn State walls. Putting an athletic program before not only a school, but also the well being of children’s lives, shows a system so broken that repairing the damage may be impossible.
The NCAA decision to take serious actions was an acknowledgement that they are willing to regain power from unruly schools. While sanctions have been handed out to other schools, nothing quite as serious as Penn State’s have been seen since SMU’s football program was shut down in the 1980’s. While it seems impossible for any of the big football schools to tone their programs down in this modern age of money college football, Penn State serves as a warning. No one is above the moral code of the NCAA and they are willing to act on those who cannot police themselves. In an age of too big to fail college programs, this provides an uneasy dissonance.