What happens next?
NCAA president Mark Emmert and the NCAA executive board would have you and I believe that the landmark decision delivered to the now infamous football program at Pennsylvania State University has a much deeper and lasting impact on the nature of collegiate football, and on a deeper level, collegiate athletics.
Applaud Emmert, for he made no mistake addressing what he and the executive board believed to be the root cause behind a university displaying such a lack of institutional control that they knowingly, and willingly, failed to protect innocent young people of whom were victims to no fault of their own. Emmert's remarks made it clear that the culture of 'hero-worship,' and a 'winning-at-all-costs' attitude, coupled by a university losing sight of what is most important within their grounds, all resulted in the most unprecedented and egregious failures of human decency and 'cover-up' of those failures of human decency, in the history of the NCAA.
That was the essence from what we heard on July 23rd, 2012 addressed to Penn State University. It wasn't the $60 million dollar penalty, equivalent to the average annual revenue of the football program. It wasn't the four-year ban on postseason play, designed to assist the program in finding the meaning of collegiate athletics. It wasn't the loss of scholarships, preventing the school from building up a winning program sooner than later. And it certainly wasn't the vacating of some 100+ victories of the once 'Demi-God' of Happy Valley, Joe Paterno. It was to make the simple yet effective statement that at some point over the past 15-years, Penn State's ability to judge right from wrong was lost on their blind loyalty to a 'Hero' in their eyes and the arena in which that 'Hero' was ever on display. It was to acknowledge that at Penn State, and possibly, no definitely, at other institutions of higher learning, we've lost our way on what is most important and if we don't acknowledge it now, what other unprecedented things could follow?
Yes, there is a hint irony involved here. Who stands to benefit most from the revenue brought in by major college football super-conferences, post-season play, and a twenty-four hour news cycle on what happened lately in college football? The NCAA. Who chose now as the time, with the worlds eyes on them, to deliver a punishment so severe the program may never be able to recover, unlike their 'less than quick' movements made on Ohio State and USC in recent years? The NCAA. Who benefits most from erasing victories which would leave Joe Paterno virtually erased from the conversation of records? The NCAA. However, ask yourselves, are you so cynical to believe that there is no way the NCAA has learned something from this situation in Happy Valley? Could they possibly have had discussions as to what can be done at other institutions where a schools administrators and coaches could show similar lack of control? Are there administrators across the country that woke up this morning and understood the words of the NCAA executive board echoed by president Mark Emmert, and will dedicate their coming months to changing the atmosphere? Or, is there no way to stop the process which has created super-powerful football coaches based on the amount of money they bring into the university?
The NCAA might not always get it right, and you may want to wait and see what changes are actually made within college athletics, or more so college football, but their decision to level Penn State so hard was based on their understanding of what caused them to be so morally inept. This is a rare punishment, for a rare act that we hope would never, ever, happen again.
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