Tag Archives: Penn State

NCAA Decimates Penn State Football, But is it Justified?

A day after Penn State removed its statue of legendary football coach Joe Paterno, the NCAA brought crippling sanctions against Penn State’s football program.

The NCAA fined the program $60 million, a sum equivalent to the annual gross revenue of the football program, which must be given as endowments to programs preventing child sex abuse. The NCAA also banned Penn State from the postseason for 4 years and will cap the number of scholarships awarded to the program at 20 below the normal level of 85 for 4 years. On top of this, the football program will be under probation for 5 years, and any current or incoming football players are free to transfer and compete at other schools, essentially reducing the entire team to free agency.

Joe Paterno, formerly the winningest coach in college football, will also lose all wins accredited to him from 1998 through 2011, a totall of 112 wins. This makes former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden the winningest coach in college football.

The NCAA also reserves the right to levy additional penalties against Penn State.

These sanctions stop just short of the ‘death penalty’, which would shut down Penn State’s football team, many are calling for on the back of assistant coach Jerry Sandusky’s conviction for child sex abuse and allegations of cover ups by high ranking school officials, including legendary coach Joe Paterno.

An internal investigation conducted by Penn State reports Joe Paterno not only covered up Sandusky’s abuses, but dissuaded others from reporting incidents to authorities.

Paterno’s family has vehemently denied these allegations, calling into question the objectivity of former FBI director Louis Freeh, who conducted the investigation. The family claims Paterno is being used as a scapegoat, since his death prevents him from defending himself, and maintain Freeh’s findings are an indictment that is unofficial and not representative of the entire truth.

Although the internal investigation suggested Paterno covered for Sandusky, Paterno’s actions in incidents in 1998 and 2001, when he reported his suspicions to authorities in the college, do call this finding into question, as does his willingness to have Freeh investigate.

The point is, there is contention, not clarity, about Paterno’s involvment. And this is a society where a man is innocent until proven guilty, so does Paterno really deserve to have his reputation destroyed before his involvment is conclusively proven?

And even if Paterno and other school officials are guilty, is that really justification for crippling the school’s football program? How does punishing the players vindicate the victims of Sandusky’s behavior or Paterno’s alleged cover ups? The players are not responsible for Paterno’s or Sandusky’s actions.

NCAA president Mark Emmert justified the harsh sanctions against Penn State by stating, “The sanctions needed to reflect our goals of providing cultural change.”

But is ‘providing cultural change’ really the prerogative of a collegiate athletic organization? Or is that the prerogative of the legal system? The NCAA exists to regulate the activity pertaining to the sports clubs within their organization, to make sure the teams play the game honestly and fairly, to make sure the players aren’t being endangered. As Paterno wrote in a letter to the Penn State community before his death, this is not a football scandal. The scandal does not revolve around actions committed when the individuals involved were acting in their capacity as part of the football team. And the football players do not deserve to be so completely decimated because of it.

If it is proven that Paterno is guilty of covering up Sandusky’s crimes, then his reputation as a coach deserves to suffer, since he championed success through honor. But certainly not before anything has been proven. This situation is precisely what John Adams was warning against when he stated that we are a nation of laws, and not men. Jo Paterno, and his football team, deserve to be fairly tried by concrete evidence, not just on the insinuations and allegations of the court of public opinion.


Sandusky's Lawyer Confirms No Plea Deal

Photo: AP

Joe Amendola, lawyer, ex-Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky, confirmed Wednesday that no plea bargain would be pursued.

On Tuesday Amendola waived Sandusky’s right to preliminary hearing and pleaded not guilty to charges of sexual abuse and requested a trial by jury. He then spoke for over three hours with reporters.  He spent the time bringing the credibility of key witness, Mike McQueary and alleged victims, into question, defended his tactics in the case, and responded to some of the criticisms brought by attorneys representing Sandusky’s accusers.

Earlier on the “Today” show, Amendoal said “There’s never been any discussions about plea bargains on either side of this case, and I don’t anticipate there will be,”. He is hoping Sandusky’s trial will begin by the Summer or Fall.

To date, Sandusky has been charged with over 50 counts of sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15 year period. That number has the potential of going up.

Amendola stated that, due to the nature of the crime, a plea bargain would likely result in a life sentence. Not an overly appealing prospect fot the 67 year old Sanduskyn who still maintains his innocence.

After posting $250,000 bail last week, Sandusky remains under house arrest.


Three Bills for One Tragedy – Penn State & California-style Solutions

By now the tragic, shocking events that transpired at Penn State are common public knowledge.  Ex-assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was re-arrested last week on new charges of child molestation.  That brings the charges against him up to more than 50 counts.  Longtime coach Joe Paterno lost his job as the investigation continues.  The entire scandal from top to bottom is enough to make this mother two young children weep.  It is heartbreaking, infuriating and disturbing.

Naturally, when a story like this comes to light many people begin to ask the question, “How did this happen? What can be done to make sure it never happens again?”  A worthy question and one that not only the entire Penn State community will have to address, but also educational institutions across the country.  Here in California the question has been posed quite publicly.  The answer?  Why, more bills of course!  CA Assemblyman Roger Dickinson (D-Sacramento) will introduce a bill that would require all athletic organizations to provide employees with training on how to identify and report child abuse.  That doesn’t sound so crazy, does it?  Not necessarily, but consider this: last month two separate California representatives, Assemblyman Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles) and state Sen. Juan Vargas (D-San Diego) put forward two separate bills that would also require employees of universities and colleges to report suspected cases of child abuse to law enforcement.  That’s not all…Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) has introduced similar legislation in D.C.   Why on earth would three different state politicians propose three different bills that cover the same issue?  Is it because they think 3 times the bills = 1.9 times the caring (I used government math for that one)?

Politics is big business in the state of California.  Besides a salary that averages $113, 000/year and a $162/day per diem (year round, don’t forget), politicians also earn big money with book deals and on the speaking circuit.  How do you become someone others will want to pay to speak at their fundraiser dinners and company retreats?  You pass a bill that has your name on it.  The more sensational, the better.  The Smith-Jones Human Waste bill or Jones-Smith Cat Leash bill simply aren’t exciting enough.  No one is moved (forgive the pun) by bills that deal with human waste and taking cats for walks, as an example ( by the way, these are not real bills…yet.  In Califorina-stan anything is possible when you have a full-time legislature run solely and completely by Democrats).  What you want as a politician is a bill that catches the eye, that speaks to emotions and very real public fears.  You want a bill that proports to solve a problem publicly and definitively, something you can speak about around the country.  You want a bill that identifies you as a public crusader.  It has little to do with content and public safety and everything to do with pride and money.

I understand people want to know that nothing like what happened at Penn State will ever happen again.  I don’t suggest that it is a poor idea to ask educational institutions to train their employees and talk about how to handle (God forbid) such situations, should they ever arise.  I am just like you, dear reader – disgusted and heartbroken at the selfish employees at Penn State who allowed young boys, children to be raped and molested right under their noses for years.  We have laws to deal with such heinous crimes.  But what is needed here is not more laws.  Our nation is drowning in legislation, much of it redundant.  With each new public tragedy there come more and more cries for better laws, stricter laws, updated laws, more specific laws.  There are so many laws on the books to be broken that our jails and prisons are overflowing with petty criminals, causing more violent offenders to be released early to create more room (that’s happening here in California thanks to…another law!)  Its natural to want to prevent more tragedy, but at what cost? In California Governor Jerry Brown has more than 600 bills on his desk awaiting approval before the end of the year.  They range from tighter helmet laws to school athletic awards.  The gridlock in Sacramento makes Washington look like amateurs. We don’t need to legislate common sense.  The national out-cry in response to the Penn State scandal proves that most Americans get that not reporting child abuse is wrong.  Do we really need more laws – THREE separate laws – to confirm that sentiment?

Every tragedy does not require a new law.  Our society would grind to a halt if every terrible accident or event resulted in a new law being passed.  What happened in Pennsylvania was outrageous.  The prepatrator is going to jail, hopefully forever.  Writing new, vague laws that most likely will end up creating even more fraud and trapping individuals in compliance loopholes will not make our kids safer. Just imagine the things that would be reported to the authorities under these new laws.  Every pat on the back, warm squeeze or lingering look could be reported by school employees terrified of prosecution if real allegations are ever proven; not to mention child molesting is a very serious charge and the simple suggestion of it can ruin an innocent person’s life forever.  Its too risky. Look at what’s become of sexual harassment laws in the workplace or the zero-tolerance policies in public schools.  We now have children being suspended for kissing or calling their teachers “cute”.  Why wouldn’t a new law governing issues of sexuality and molestation in higher education turn into the same fiasco?

I too want to ensure this never happens again but adding 3 more bills to the Governor’s desk is not going to change anything for the boys whose lives were destroyed by Sandusky.  We don’t need better laws.  We just need better people…and that subject is a longer post for a different day.


Joe Paterno Issues Statement on Penn State Board's Decision

State College, Pa., Nov. 10, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — I am disappointed with the Board of Trustees’ decision, but I have to accept it.

A tragedy occurred, and we all have to have patience to let the legal process proceed. I appreciate the outpouring of support but want to emphasize that everyone should remain calm and please respect the university, its property and all that we value.

I have been incredibly blessed to spend my entire career working with people I love. I am grateful beyond words to all of the coaches, players and staff who have been a part of this program. And to all of our fans and supporters, my family and I will be forever in your debt.