Monday, July 23, 2012

Penn State and the NCAA

This morning the NCAA announced the penalties that will be imposed on Penn State. This is following the release of the findings of an independent investigation by Louis Freeh. If you haven't read the report, you really should. It can be found here: The findings were disturbing to say the least, and documented a systematic cover up of known abuse by Jerry Sandusky.

There has been much speculation over the last week about the penalties the NCAA would hand down. Late yesterday, with the announcement that the press conference would be held this morning, that speculation became a little more specific. Many sources reported that the death penalty (the removal of Penn State's football program) was off the table, but that the punishment that would be announced would be quite severe.

Because of my own personal experiences I didn't expect the penalties handed down to be what I felt was adequate. However, I was completely blown away when I watched the press conference this morning.

Penn State will be banned from post season play for four years. In addition, they are immediately losing 10 scholarships, with an additional 70 scholarships being forfeited over the next 4 years. Joe Paterno's wins from 1998-2011 are also being vacated. On it's face, and especially if you aren't a sports fan, this doesn't seem like that much of a punishment. However, what this means is that Joe Paterno is no longer the lifetime NCAA College Football wins record holder. That distinction now belongs to Bobby Bowden. And finally, for me the most important penalty imposed on Penn State, is a $60 million fine that will be paid to the NCAA. The money paid from that fine will be held in endowment for the creation of a national organization dedicated to the prevention of child sex abuse.

I almost couldn't believe it when I heard it. I can imagine the feelings that created in the Penn State survivors. Not only has Sandusky been convicted, there will now be a new national organization dedicated to the awareness and prevention of child sex abuse. I've said from the beginning that my only motivation has been to do whatever I can to prevent this from happening again. Even if it's just one child. The survivors of Penn State, while they have a horrible, heinous wound to live with for the rest of their lives, now also have the thought that the actions they took afterwards will help create an organization that will hopefully prevent the same kind of acts from happening to another child.

It's difficult to feel hopeful in these situations. However, the NCAA just sent a message to not just Jerry Sandusky's survivors, but to survivor's of sexual abuse everywhere. And it's a message we've needed to hear for quite some time.