Penn State football and its new reality following the severe sanctions the NCAA handed down Monday has dominated the headlines in recent hours. Before getting to the official lunch links a bit later, let’s look at some of the Penn State coverage.
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Yahoo! Sports’ Pat Forde: This is the new reality ushered in Monday: Two college athletic institutions saw their images recast. Penn State football’s clean NCAA record, trumpeted for decades under Joe Paterno, is now officially tarnished. And a governing body often lampooned in recent years for being out of touch and too lenient now has renewed potency.
CBSsports.com’s Dennis Dodd: At a time when names are being stripped off of buildings at a record rate, any claims of grandstanding by the fast-acting Emmert will not be heard. The NCAA president, the executive committee and Division I board of directors sold the call. It was a close at the plate, bang-bang, but it was right one. Penn State must hang.
ESPN.com’s Gene Wojciechowski: The NCAA, with Penn State’s grim blessings, didn’t impose the so-called death penalty. It went much further than that. It ordered the university and the people who run it to transform its soul.
The New York Times’ Pete Thamel: The N.C.A.A. stopped short of shutting down Penn State’s program, but officials insisted that the breadth and significance of the penalties were nearly as debilitating. It is expected to be almost a decade before Penn State will be in a position to attempt to regain its place as one of the sport’s elite programs.
SI.com’s Michael Rosenberg: Emmert just announced to the world that winning football games is really, really important. Now he gets to look tough and powerful, and Penn State goes away for a while, and it all sounds good, because what happened at Penn State really was abhorrent. But it may be time for a new NCAA logo: a picture of a tail wagging a dog.
The Sporting News’ Matt Hayes: The only man who can truly unravel this sordid, surreal story now has a chance to do the right thing. To give abused children and their families closure; to give his university an understanding of the power of the few; to give the Paterno family a clear vision of their once-iconic patriarch’s utter failure in the biggest moment of his life. To tell the ugly, unmentionable truth once and for all—prison be damned. It’s all on Tim Curley’s shoulders now. Every last shred of what’s left of the Penn State child abuse scandal is sitting right there in front of him: the last man with the last word.
The Wall Street Journal’s Jason Gay: Let’s be clear, here: This was Penn State’s disaster and Penn State deserves everything it gets. The sanctions meted out by the NCAA—a $60 million fine, scholarship losses, a four-year bowl ban and the vacating of every football win from 1998 to 2011—are properly harsh. What happened was a breathtaking example of institutional failure or, as the school’s own investigation put it, “the total and consistent disregard by the most senior leaders … for the safety and welfare of [Jerry] Sandusky’s child victims.” This is a university’s unconscionable shame, and should never be forgotten.
USA Today’s Christine Brennan: Penn State’s anemic leaders clearly cannot be trusted to make any of the correct or tough decisions against their football program, so Emmert did it for them, basically ensuring that Penn State football will be a shell of its former self for at least the next 10 years.
Yahoo! Sports’ Dan Wetzel: As painful as a silent season in State College would’ve been, O’Brien, the freshly hired 45-year-old, could have spent the fall recruiting and pointing to the future. Instead he deals with mountainous hurdles in an attempt to win. Emmert was clear he wanted a culture change at Penn State and nothing changes the culture like 5-7 seasons. Football stops being so important.
ESPN.com’s Don Van Natta Jr.: In a decision reached in record time and marked by strong language, the NCAA’s leaders used historic sanctions against Penn State to send an overriding message: protecting the safety of children is far more important than protecting a football program.
SI.com’s Andy Staples: First things first: No matter what anyone says, the death penalty would have been worse. Canceling an entire season (or two) would have cost Penn State even more on top of the fine because the school would have lost millions in football ticket sales and television payouts from the Big Ten. That also could have hurt the other sports at Penn State which rely on football revenue to survive. From a competitive standpoint, erasing the program for a few years would have set the rebuilding process back even further. What will now take 10-15 years might have taken at least 20.
The Sporting News’ Mike DeCourcy: The decision to include a scholarship reduction in the list of penalties, though, is a profound disappointment. Emmert had an opportunity to demand something of Penn State that would have set a precedent for future infractions cases, and he failed by wielding a weapon that is as archaic as a mace.
The Altoona Mirror’s Neil Rudel: There is no question the sanctions aren’t fair to this year’s team and its new coaching staff. But as this case sickeningly proved, life isn’t fair. Just ask Sandusky’s victims — one of whom was seen being abused by Sandusky in a shower by a Penn State assistant coach who tried to forward the matter only to have it die in the email of his superiors.
The (Harrisburg) Patriot-News’ David Jones: What’s done is done now. And it won’t be undone. Penn State president Rodney Erickson signed the order. As reported in Monday’s Patriot-News, there will be no appeal. So, finally, the road ahead is clear. Heaven knows neither smooth nor unimpeded. But clear.
Statecollege.com’s Mike Poorman: The blow to Penn State –- to the hundreds of players from those 14 years, the millions of fans, the alumni, the students — is much greater. Paterno won 409 games on the field, his final victory coming in his last game as head coach on Oct. 29, 2011. Penn State beat Illinois 10-7 in Beaver Stadium when a last-second Illini field goal hit the goal posts. Eleven days later Paterno was fired. And six months and one day after he died, Paterno’s record — a testament to his longevity and on-the-field success — was gone.
The Reading Eagle’s Rich Scarcella: The best penalty was the fine of $60 million, equivalent to the average of one year of gross revenue from the Penn State football program, which will be donated into an endowment for programs preventing child sexual abuse and/or assisting the victims of child abuse. And the Big Ten donating Penn State’s share of conference bowl revenue over the next four years, estimated at $13 million, to charitable organizations in Big Ten communities dedicated to the protection of children. Those are ways to make something positive out of this whole mess. Emmert could have doubled the fine to make an even more lasting impact. Instead, he cut Penn State football down to its knees with the bowl ban and the loss of scholarships that will make the Nittany Lions look like a Division I-AA program in a few years.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Ron Cook: Do you really believe the culture of football is going to change at Alabama or Ohio State or Louisiana State because of what happened at Penn State?
The Erie Times-News’ John Dudley: There seem to be two reactions to the Freeh report and to Penn State’s punishment. One is resignation that whatever the penalties, they couldn’t be too strong in the wake of the worst scandal college sports, and perhaps higher education, has ever seen. They needed to be handed down, and then the process of rebuilding and recovery needed to begin. The other is a sense of injustice drawing from the belief that what happened wasn’t a football problem and shouldn’t be treated or punished as such. That whatever sanctions the NCAA settled on would represent a misguided attempt at reparation by a representative body overstepping its bounds. Those two camps will never see things eye-to-eye, no matter how far down the road they meet.
The (Harrisburg) Patriot-News’ Stefanie Loh: This one really hurts. But as much as it stings, those who lived through the SMU death penalty of the late 1980s would like to remind their Penn State contemporaries that things could have been much worse. Penn State’s penance is nowhere near as steep a price as that paid by the Mustangs.
Big Ten region
The Columbus Dispatch’s Todd Jones: After eight months of horrific scandal in the late Joe Paterno’s empire, Penn State’s problem has become the Big Ten’s problem. The league and its 11 other members, including Ohio State, must reckon with the judicial fallout from an unprecedented delivery of punitive action by the NCAA against the once-sterling football program at Penn State.
The Omaha World-Herald’s Tom Shatel: It’s time for the Big Ten to call off the Nebraska-Penn State crossover rivalry. The idea here was to celebrate the Tom Osborne-Paterno legacies, the legends, the memories. Suddenly that doesn’t sound like such a good idea anymore. Time to make Wisconsin the Huskers’ every-year rival. The NU-Penn State rivalry will be flat. Bad Big Ten TV. And, really, neither fan base cares about the other. Huskers and Badgers would be great fun and a better game for Big Ten football every year.
The Indianapolis Star’s Bob Kravitz: What is the point of reducing scholarships to the point of reducing the program to rubble? It penalizes the people who are guilty of absolutely nothing. It penalizes the coaches who had no role in the scandal. It penalizes the student-athletes, who, we’re told, are supposed to come first in any NCAA-related deliberation.
The Wisconsin State Journal’s Tom Oates: Still, the future of Penn State’s program and its effect on the Big Ten are trivial compared to the message that was sent Monday by the NCAA. After years of drawn-out investigations and inconsistent punishments for law-breakers, the association finally showed some teeth.
The Star Tribune’s Chip Scoggins: The hope here is that the NCAA’s harsh penalties send a resounding message that prevents something like that from happening again. Maybe it will force the next person with knowledge of such a crime to step forward rather than remain silent, to show some courage when confronting an authority figure, to simply do the right thing at a time of crisis. If that’s reform, we’re all for it.
The Detroit News’ Bob Wojnowski: No sympathy here for Penn State, although these are devastating sanctions. The public outcry and the horrific nature of child sexual abuse pushed the NCAA to act in an imperial manner, using the Freeh report as a trial, an appeal and a final verdict. You could argue the NCAA overstepped its authority, but Penn State agreed to the process. When an institution puts itself at mercy, it accepts the consequences.
The Lansing State Journal’s Joe Rexrode: This is a big image hit to the Big Ten, which now has its top three brand names — Penn State, Ohio State and Michigan — on probation. “We’ve been damaged,” Delany said, “but not mortally damaged.”