In fact, it’s not hyperbole to suggest that maybe the death penalty would have been preferable.
For starters, there’s the five years of probation, a four-year bowl ban, and a four-year reduction in scholarships.
Another hit from the NCAA – allowing players to transfer without having to sit out a redshirt year – will open the floodgates as far as any talent still in the program is concerned.
The transfer move, coupled with the cap in scholarships – at 65 – basically relegates Penn State to I-AA status.
(Except that it is still playing a Big Ten schedule with I-AA resources. Ouch.)
Then there’s the $60 million fine from the NCAA – and then on top of that the Big Ten is now saying that Penn State can’t share in more than $13 million in bowl revenues generated by conference members over the next four years.
The $73 million total hit with the NCAA fine and the Big Ten’s call on revenue-sharing is roughly equivalent to what Penn State football brought in revenue-wise in 2010.
Consider the message sent. The NCAA, which so often acts as if it is powerless to do anything to keep its member institutions in any kind of line, has made it clear now. Athletics are important, but not more important than basic right and wrong.
No matter where you stand on everything going on right now at Penn State, the school, at the least, and its top administrators and Joe Paterno, almost certainly, could have better acted in the best interests of Penn State and its football program by taking action sooner rather than later.
Let’s certainly hope that there is no next time as far as this kind of situation presenting itself in a top college program. But if it does, let’s hope that if basic human decency isn’t the guide to the proper course of action, then this set of sanctions from the NCAA and Big Ten puts the fear of God in the decision-makers and forces them to do the right thing.