Punish those who deserve it.
The events that have taken place at Penn State over the last few months have brought attention to an issue that has long been ignored: What happens when people in power don't protect children from abuse. The janitors, administrators, and most notably, Joe Paterno, did not have the interest of the children being abused in mind. They were more concerned about themselves and the football program.
After Jerry Sandusky was charged and found guilty of sexually abusing several boys, further investigations found that Penn State deliberately tried to cover the abuse instead of addressing it. The NCAA decided then that it would punish Penn State as a whole in repayment for the abuse.
The Penn State football program will be banned over the next four years to participate in bowl games, will lose over 40 scholarships over the next four years, and pay $60 million in fines. The money will go towards a special endowment created to detect and prevent child abuse.
All of Penn State's football wins between 1998 and 2011 will be vacated, as well. In essence, the football program has been destroyed and will have to completely rebuild itself. In a statement released by the NCAA President, Mark Emmert, (former President of my alma mater, The University of Washington) stated that he did not want to necessarily punish Penn State but force it to "rebuild its athletic culture."
I thought about the punishment and if it was fair or if the NCAA just wanted to make a point. As someone who played at a Division I school on a golf team, if the football program at the University of Washington had been destroyed, I most likely would not have been able to play golf collegiately. In fact, most of the sports would not survive without the football program. In the 2007-2008 season the University of Washington football program generated over $60 million in revenue. That was during a season when the Huskies lost every single game that year.
The NCAA is not only punishing the football program, they are punishing the entire school. This to me, is not right nor fair. This punishment will devastate the entire athletic program. What happened at Penn State was a travesty and should have been prevented.
However, instead of hurting current players on the team and athletes in other programs, why not make it mandatory that a certain percentage of ticket sales over a period of time go towards preventing child sexual abuse. This would certainly amount to more than $60 million, considering that Penn State's football program made more than $90 million in the 2007-2008 season alone.
As a survivor of sexual abuse, myself, I have long been an advocate to help protect children from the same fate. I continue to feel horrified that such cover-ups of abuse take place; however, punishing the student athletes will not stop child abuse. It will only continue to bring down the morale of an institution that is riddled in shame for its failure to protect children.
Yes, individuals at Penn State cared more about the football program than taking the proper measures to make sure the abuse stopped. But, those individuals have begun to feel the backlash and certainly further measures will take place against those administrators.
The NCAA has a responsibility to punish those who did not do the right thing; it does not have the right to punish student-athletes who did not have any involvement in the abuse. The NCAA must also take into account the scholarships that will be affected through this severe punishment.
I would not have been able to attend college without the scholarship I received through playing golf. While many people question the value of scholarships on football teams, I can say through personal knowledge that many student athletes take advantage of their scholarships and go on to accomplish wonderful and amazing things outside of their chosen sport.
What happened at Penn State needs to serve as an example of what happens when people don't do the right thing. However, the NCAA does not need to make an example of the whole university and of its student athletes who did not participate in the abuse.
The NCAA could bring in great organizations like KidSafe Foundation to help educate administrators and faculty on the signs of a child getting sexually abused. They could commit that a percentage of Penn State apparel go towards a chosen foundation to prevent abuse (and the NCAA wouldn’t want to do that, anyway, considering they profit off the apparel and games). In 2010-2011 the NCAA revenue was $845.9 million.
I have had my beef with the NCAA before and I will continue to until the organization really steps up to the plate to live up to the principles it says it stands for. Because after the five years is up and the $60 million is paid to their endowment, and the scholarships are lost, will the NCAA continue to feel vindicated and continue their quest to protect children? Or will they decide to continue profiting from student athletes then punish them when they have done nothing wrong?
twoday magazine wants to know: Did the NCAA do the right thing or did they come down too hard on the students and athletes attending Penn State? Share with us your thoughts on our Facebook page.
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