Harris: NCAA chooses victims over wins
By John Harris
Published: Tuesday, July 24, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
Updated: Monday, October 1, 2012
The victories were deemed more important than the victims.
It's that simple, really. And that tragic.
Many believed Joe Paterno remained on the job too long. That issue isn't up for debate after the NCAA dropped a megaton bomb on Penn State on Monday.
Paterno's stint as the all-time winningest coach in college football has ended, silenced as so much trivial pursuit when stacked against the lives destroyed by Jerry Sandusky, Paterno's former right-hand man.
“The whole situation is incredibly tragic,'' Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops told reporters during the first day of Big 12 Conference media day activities. “I don't know all the facts. I'm not one to judge. But in every way possible, children should always be protected by adults.''
No amount of victories is worth the moral dilemma that Paterno wrestled with since he first learned about Sandusky's dark side:
“Do I blow the whistle on Jerry, because it's the right thing to do? Do I keep it hush-hush for the good of the program and my own personal gain?''
Paterno chose wrong. That's why 111 of Paterno's victories from 1998-2011 he believed were solidifying his legacy were erased by the NCAA, which chose victims over victories.
Those who supported the football coach to the bitter end should consider the hypocrisy of the message Paterno regularly delivered to his players.
While telling Nittany Lions players to conduct their lives in a respectable manner, Paterno secretly supported a former co-worker whose actions were indefensible.
What happened at Penn State couldn't happen anywhere else. Right?
“I don't think things have been the same since it happened,'' TCU coach Gary Patterson said. “Obviously, it's tragic on a lot of levels. But I'm more interested in how are we going to find an answer to the problem. Because that problem is not just at Penn State. That's a world problem.''
Too many people at Penn State in positions of power wielded their power like a club while looking the other way regarding Sandusky. With all due respect to Patterson, that's an institutional control problem.
No more excuses. That's what makes the NCAA stance against Penn State so revolutionary ... and necessary. Someone finally told Paterno no.
People are beginning to see the light. It once seemed as though Paterno, who did so much good for Penn State, could do no wrong. And if he did, someone was always there to defend him.
However, this abomination couldn't be overlooked, covered up, or ignored, no matter the financial cost. The human cost was far greater.
“I think perhaps the lesson that will be taken away from it is that things can get pretty far afield when there are people running the show that don't ever get frank feedback and don't ever have anybody push back against them in terms of re-centering their decision processes,'' Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said.
Regardless of the stature of the coach or the program, money and winning at all costs must take a backseat to doing the right thing.
Years later, Penn State is finally doing the right thing.
It may not help Sandusky's victims sleep easier at night, but at least now they know they haven't been forgotten.
John Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The NCAA is to be commended for swiftly punishing the Penn State football program. Although we can’t forget that Jerry Sandusky is the one who started this pedophile scandal with his horrific crimes against children, the arrogance of the Penn State Administrators including Joe Paterno, enabled these crimes against children to continue over many years. I’ve suspected for several years that Joe Paterno would eventually be exposed for his arrogance and hypocrisy. Joe Paterno and his cult-like Penn State following thought they were always more ethical than other NCAA football programs and often derided other football programs and their fans. The Penn State community must be held accountable since they fed into this misguided hero worship. Even today, after everything that has come out, there are those that still defend Joe Paterno. Everyone associated with Penn State must now pay for their years of arrogance and hypocrisy. Retribution is a legitimate form of punishment, so perhaps those innocent children whose bodies and minds were violated, can have some small measure of comfort knowing that the Penn State football culture and its enablers will be severely punished. Thankfully the NCAA acted appropriately and didn’t leave the doling out of punishment to the ‘Matt Millens and Franco Harrises of the world!
Submitted by: michael on Tuesday, July 24, 2012
A lot of high horses being ridden these days. These sanctions are ridiculous. Except for, the fine to assist abused victims. NCAA should not be involved at all. This is a criminal/civil concern only. JoePa has become the scapegoat for this mess. That is just not reasonable. There was no way he was running PSU in his 70's and 80's. He was not even taking recruiting trips. He is deceased. Thus, cannot defend himself. There are likely hundred, perhaps thousands involved in the cover up. Administrators, law enforcement and maybe even the current Governor of PA. Those should be the ones being punished. Not current/future student-athletes. Penn State haters got their pound of flesh, plus the heart. Lessons to be learned for certain. We will return even stronger one day. We ARE and shall remain PENN STATE.
Submitted by: John on Tuesday, July 24, 2012
It would be difficult to debate the penalties handed Pen State are unfair but I believe there is a fundamental issue that should be discussed. Universities across this country have been using athletes to garner prestige and earn tremendous sums of money to build facilities and pay coaches millions of dollars a year in salary and benefits. A few of these young people will be accomplished enough to make a very good living and career in their sport. A large number of the athletes will get a fine education that will allow them to build a career and live a prosperous and full life. However there are many who will be discarded and abused by this system. These young people are victimized by being offered a dream at 18 and abandoned as soon as the University and its million dollar coaching staff decide that they can't contribute to the prestige and record of the team. Others will be kept on the team and technically eligible to play but no one has really cared if they get an education or not. Realistically not every great high school athlete is going to benefit from a University education. Some of them would make great carpenters, bricklayers or nursing assistants, but the NCAA does allow Universities to let potential bricklayers, carpenters or nursing assistants play College sports. The Universities disregard that entirely because the athlete can contribute to the University's prestige and coffers. After four or five years of playing a decent game many of these athletes are finished with playing games. Does the NCAA care about how they live the rest of their lives? Does the University care about how they live the rest of their lives? How many of these athlete's lives are ruined? How many end up with drug, alcohol,criminal futures because they are totally unprepared to take care of their future? These athletes are victims, not scarred in the same way as sandusky's victims, but when the mothers and fathers ,who heard the Coaches promise their child an unlimited future, see what has happened to their child do you think they feel any less victimized by NCAA and the Universities who used their child for prestige and profit? If the NCAA is willing to descend on those issues then it will do much more to helping victims than the little they are doing for the Penn State victims.