NCAA fines Penn State $60 million for actions in Sandusky scandal

posted at 10:01 am on July 23, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

The NCAA lowered the boom on Penn State today, after an independent investigation concluded that the university’s highest-ranking officers failed to act when they had evidence that a football coach had molested boys.  The school must pay $60 million in fines, forfeit all of their victories from 1998 forward — about the time Penn State officials should have taken action against convicted serial child molester Jerry Sandusky — and be ineligible for bowl games for four years:

College sports’ governing body today suspended Penn State’s football team from post-season bowl play for four years and fined the university $60 million for its handling of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

The teams also must vacate all wins from 1998 through 2011.

This morning’s announcement by the NCAA stood out as much for its harshness as for the swiftness with which it came. In past scandals at the University of Southern California, Auburn and Ohio State, the association attracted criticism for its slow pace.

The impact of this decision will be felt for a long time.  Usually, when the NCAA imposes these kinds of penalties, they allow scholarship athletes to transfer out without the usual one-year penalty.  Whatever recruiting successes Penn State has had will almost certainly walk out the door, especially younger men who would normally have been playing for bowls in three or four years.  They won’t attract many other candidates during the penalty years either, first because of the lack of visibility for a school that can’t play in a bowl, and conversely because of the high and unattractive visibility of playing for a school that tolerated a molester in order to win championships.  It could be decades before Penn State can compete in football, or perhaps never.

Unfortunately, they won’t be the only ones suffering:

The sanctions could punish more than just Penn State’s football program, which generates windfall profits not only for the university’s other athletic programs but also from the surrounding community.

According to the school’s most recent NCAA financial reports, the football program brings in more than $50 million in profits each year. And home games usher in a brisk business for local hotels and businesses in the otherwise sleepy Happy Valley.

The Happy Valley halcyon days are over, and they may never come back.  Thanks to the involvement of Joe Paterno in the scandal, whose name is synonymous with Penn State championships, their entire tradition has to start from scratch, and it’s not likely to ever have that kind of cachet ever again.

Why didn’t the NCAA put Penn State out of its misery and simply issue the so-called “death penalty” — barring the school from competing permanently in football?  Howard Kurtz reported the NCAA didn’t want to forever penalize people who had nothing to do with the crimes involved:

Perhaps.  However, considering the circumstances, it would have been a healthy reminder that winning shouldn’t be everything in college sports, and that NCAA schools exist to educate and enlighten young men and women — not consign them to predators just to protect their income stream.  Penn State should carefully consider whether to bring back a football program at all, and the rest of the colleges and universities in the NCAA should take this opportunity to rethink their own priorities.

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While I do wonder about the sudden appearance of people going against the mob rush trying to destroy Paterno, etc (I mean, are some of them the same person changing names? – just seems odd after almost not finding any other such posts other than my own), what they point out is true.

Read the report. Separate actual facts from his conclusions – they simply don’t match up well.

Elsewhere, I have tried in vain to get people to give me rational reasons to say Paterno was behind it all. I have been called a lot of names in return. Are so many people actually afraid to just point out that while the crimes are terrible, it doesn’t justify a vengeance mentality, as oppose to actual justice. I’ve been particularly discouraged by the same reaction by conservative bloggers I really respect – Morrisey amongst them.

dabbigkahuna on July 23, 2012 at 11:16 PM

dabbigkahuna on July 23, 2012 at 11:16 PM
Three things…as with the President for a college coach the buck stops with him. Paterno held a position of responsibility for anyone who came in contact wwith his players. By turning a blind eye to Sandusky he made himself untrustworthy, and no coach can do that. He was responsible for allowing Sandusky within his program, as an employee and later as a visitor with special priveleges. If he didn’t know about Sandusky’s behavior, which I don’t for a minute believe, he should have. He should know everything about anyone involved with his program. No excuses, period.

Second, as he said…he didn’t do enough.

Third, no one destroyed Paterno, he destroyed himself.

Deanna on July 24, 2012 at 12:32 AM

I’m at a total loss as to how Freeh can blame Paterno on the basis of exactly one e-mail which claimed that Paterno was having second thoughts — an e-mail which did not come from Paterno nor have him as a recipient or a carbon-copy, but, rather came from a set of people who obviously conspired to cover up for Sandusky.

Freeh, in his 270 page report, mentions multiple times that Paterno, on being apprised of Sandusky’s behavior by McQueary on Saturday, Feb 11 2001 did not immediately inform his management of Sandusky’s behavior, with the damning statement “not want to spoil their weekend”. However, he did not wait until Monday to report what he’d heard, he waited until the afternoon on Sunday, Feb 12 and then reported it to his immediate superior.

The next damning statement is from one of the janitors who failed to report what they’d seen to anyone. One janitor says he and the others were afraid of being fired by Paterno if they reported the incident. There’s certainly no indication that Paterno fired anyone other than Sandusky. Mr. McQueary, who did come forward with his own allegations, certainly was not fired….. If they had anything to fear, it certainly wasn’t from Paterno, but from the other men named by the report, who interestingly were also castigated for preverication by the Grand Jury….

Finally, there’s a note by Paterno written on a sheet of paper naming a position involving youth that Sandusky sought from the University during the negotiations for his departure. There is no evidence that Paterno gave Sandusky anything like the position he wrote on the paper. He was undoubtely trying to placate Sandusky without actually giving him any access to children.

To see that, note that Paterno deliberately excludes the Second Mile Foundation from campus, thus preventing Mr. Sandusky from committing any more crimes on campus.

That Paterno thought Sandusky was, or might be, a pedophile was obvious in the strained relationship between the two men thereafter….

Paterno’s acts speak very loudly — Sandusky went from being heir apparent to out of the program.

Freeh tries to make Paterno have tremendous power on campus — so much power that he can order that Sandusky’s sins be overlooked. I think the reverse was true — Paterno lacked the power to outrightly fire Sandusky, because Sandusky had tenure from 1980 onward. Whatever had to be done had to be done with that fact in mind.

Freeh also puts Paterno at fault for failing to report to the Campus Police — and, specifically, to an official with the responsibility for “Clary crime reports or collect Clary crime statistics for the University”. He discounts the fact that Paterno talked to Schultz, who was the head of the University Police — and who chose not to contact someone who would meet the letter of the Clary Act. The Grand Jury, on the other hand, does not fault Paterno for failing to report the crime, or even for failing to report the crime to the right person. That kind of needle threading is Freeh’s alone.

That said, the University gave Sandusky professor emeritus status — which entitled him to use of the athletic facilities. Freeh claims that Paterno was part of that decision, but offers no documentation of that assertion. One would have expected that, in a report of the type Freeh produced, that somewhere in the 270 pages would be solid evidence of the type Freeh claims to have reviewed.

I don’t see it. I see someone crapping on the grave of a dead man because he can do it and it will make his name in the news.

unclesmrgol on July 24, 2012 at 1:20 AM


Nothing shows he turned a blind eye. Everyone just ASSUMES he knew everything and that he had so much control of the university that anything that happened was with his approval.

Which is bull. It is assumptions piled on assumptions.

Sandusky was an employee in 1998 – a case, I remind you, that WAS reported to police and no charges were made by the prosecutor. Do you even know what that case was about?

And do you really think that if someone is investigated for possible evil acts with children, they should lose their jobs just because of an investigation that didn’t lead to charges? You need to look at lives destroyed because of FALSE accusations made against people who work with kids because that is an evil too.

Even in 1998, we don’t know what Paterno knew. All we do know is that he was aware of an investigation. But of what? Confidentiality laws should have kept him in the dark on details during the investigation. But he would also know that no charges were filed. So why should he think this an actual case of child abuse instead of a false claim or mistaken claim?

> later as a visitor with special priveleges. If he didn’t know about Sandusky’s behavior, which I don’t for a minute believe, he should have. Second, as he said…he didn’t do enough. <

That's right. IN HINDSIGHT. Happens all the time with perfectly good people. Someone leaves your home at night to walk home, gets raped, and even though you did nothing wrong, you wish you had done something to keep them with you. Heck, drive the end of your street and have a truck go through a stop sign and kill your child in the back seat and you're likely to start wishing you had left a minute earlier or later.

The comment Paterno made is normal human nature from caring people. So, naturally, he is actually trashed for it!

dabbigkahuna on July 24, 2012 at 4:08 AM

Seems like we must have had a rush of people from Penn State and Happy Valley sign up during the last open registration. Keep up the faith, brothers!

Apparently The Nile runs through Pennsylvania now.

JFS61 on July 24, 2012 at 11:07 AM

It’s important to strip PSU of it’s victories because those victories were a direct result of the money Jerry Sandusky brought into the program.

I don’t care what anyone says – it was the MONEY that he brought into the athletic program that allowed him to have access EVERYWHERE on that campus even after everyone knew he was a pediphile.

HondaV65 on July 23, 2012 at 2:05 PM

Mob mentality that continues to get the facts wrong.

Even though the report blames Penn State for not keeping Sandusky off campus, or out of the Lasch Building, it admits (page 81) that University counsel (Cynthia Baldwin) said that the University could not legally revoke Sandusky’s access to the athletic facilities because of his Emeritus status, and because he had not been convicted of a crime. Page 106 reiterates this stipulation. Page 107 adds that Baldwin said “his access could not be eliminated without the University being sued.” The report therefore condemns Penn State’s administrators for not doing something their attorney said could get them sued.

Animal60 on July 24, 2012 at 12:08 PM

Seems like we must have had a rush of people from Penn State and Happy Valley sign up during the last open registration. Keep up the faith, brothers!

Apparently The Nile runs through Pennsylvania now.

JFS61 on July 24, 2012 at 11:07 AM

The rush of people is the lynch mob calling for heads to roll regardless of the facts.

Animal60 on July 24, 2012 at 12:09 PM

I’m at a total loss as to how Freeh can blame Paterno on the basis of exactly one e-mail which claimed that Paterno was having second thoughts — an e-mail which did not come from Paterno nor have him as a recipient or a carbon-copy, but, rather came from a set of people who obviously conspired to cover up for Sandusky.

unclesmrgol on July 24, 2012 at 1:20 AM

Because Freeh was working for PSU and it is easy to point the finger at someone who cannot defend themselves.

This whole situation does not pass the smell test. The knee jerk response by the NCAA and the quick acceptance by PSU while it points the finger at Paterno has the feeling of it being swept under the rug as quickly as possible without looking to see just how widespread the corruption goes.
The lynch mob reaction by a whole lot of people just may result in the real culprits getting off.

Animal60 on July 24, 2012 at 12:15 PM

The email doesn’t even say Paterno had second thoughts. It says the AD (who wrote it) had second thoughts and talked to Paterno – but nothing about what was said or that his second thoughts were the RESULT of the conversation.

Even the Freeh report says the top three officials were already considering that option before they even talked to McQueary!

My suspicion is that the AD never really wanted to report it. But before pushing his view on the other two, he wanted to see if McQueary had told Paterno anything more than he may have told them. Since Paterno never really got much from McQueary, the AD’s preference had nothing new to change it.

Like I said before, if Paterno was behind all this, why such vague references instead of at least some clear comments about “Joe wants this”?

dabbigkahuna on July 24, 2012 at 4:11 PM