Loud and clear

Published 10:28 pm Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The NCAA stuck swift and hard this week. Penn State University was penalized with severe sanctions in response to former FBI Director Louis Freeh’s report on the role of the school’s athletic program in creating an atmosphere in which assistant coach and convicted child-molester Jerry Sandusky could victimize children for over a decade.
The sanctions essentially paralyze the Penn State football program: the team is banned from playing in the postseason for four years; scholarships to incoming athletes will be curtailed for four years; the program will be on probation for five years, complete with an independent integrity monitor and must adhere to all corrective recommendations in the Freeh Report; wins from 1998 to 2011 have been removed from the university and Joe Paterno’s coaching records; and a $60 million fine, equal to the average one-year gross revenues of the Penn State football program, must be donated to programs for the prevention of child abuse and/or assistance of child abuse victims.
Many have said that the sanctions are worse than the NCAA’s “death penalty,” in which a sports program is banned outright for a year or two. They are right. It is worse and deliberately so. A statement on the NCAA website reads: “imposing the death penalty does not address the cultural, systemic and leadership failures at Penn State” and “what some refer to as the death penalty was not severe enough” punishment for the school.
They did the right thing according to their own bylaws: intercollegiate athletics are to promote character development, enhance the integrity of higher education and promote civility in society. Athletic programs must adhere to the fundamental values of respect, fairness, civility, honesty and responsibility.
The statement made by the NCAA is loud and clear: failures of institutional and individual integrity will not be tolerated. Oversight is required. Controls must be in place. This will never happen again.
Let’s hope the NCAA is heard.