How the NCAA fumbled the Penn State case

That’s what we do these days. When someone does something truly evil—whether it be a gunman firing on innocents in a Colorado theater, or an assistant college football coach molesting young boys—we indict the larger culture. We see this in the wake of Colorado, where last week’s shooting spree has fed calls to take away guns from the law-abiding. We see it too in reaction to the terrible happenings at Penn State, where Joe Paterno’s name seems to arouse more fury than that of the man who actually molested the boys, Jerry Sandusky. …

The harder question to answer is as follows: Is the NCAA’s emphasis on Penn State’s “culture” part of the cure or part of the disease? Even if fixing the culture were the answer, is an association with as little credibility as the NCAA really the vehicle to deliver it?

How much better off we would be if we could address the real problem at State College—to wit, senior college officials, including Paterno, reluctant to take real responsibility for those under them. In this, surely, the culture at Penn State is far from unique. At most of our modern campuses, we’ve replaced leadership with codes, judgment with zero tolerance, and standards of right and wrong with Who Am I To Judge—and then we are shocked, shocked when scandal erupts.