NCAA's Penn State fine misguided

July 23, 2012, 1:28 am
Share This Post

Nobody learns because nobody wants to learn. Nobody listens because its much too fun to shout.And the Penn State scandal grinds on.Sunday was another signature day in not getting it. The Joe Paterno statue came down, which was far more trivial an event than it was made out to be, but more to the point, NCAA president Mark Emmert decided to make the same mistake that begat the entire scandal.He decided that power was the cure for a series of crimes based on power.Not that we should have expected otherwise. Jim Delany, the commissioner of the Big 10 Conference, thought the same thing. Men of power always think an abuse of power can be fought with more power, which is why abuses of power are so plentiful.Emmerts decision, which seems to be have been made in a committee of one in front of his shaving mirror, is to be announced in the morning and will, if reports are accurate, severely curtail the Penn State football programs ability to compete and generate money.Which is all very feel-good-ish and PR-gold-mine-ish. But its downfall is built in, because it is so monumentally self-serving.The school is to be fined in the eight-figure range, lose scholarships and bowl opportunities, all in the name of the NCAAs catch-all institutional control clause. This, despite no investigation other than reading the Freeh Report, and despite having no essential understanding of who should be punished or why.No, this was Emmert seizing power to address a problem that was defined by the defense of power. It is what the NCAA does best when confronted by the misdeeds of the few it punishes the many, and most of them had nothing to do with the crimes in question.The fine is intriguing, but it could have been explained away easily if it had been earmarked for the victims of Jerry Sanduskys horrors, and then for the furtherance of the fight against child abuse. That would have been acceptable. More than acceptable, in fact.But Emmert wanted to punish someone to quell the shouts about NCAA inertia, and did the only thing the NCAA can ever do -- punish those who remained behind.You see, the failure AT Penn State wasnt a failure OF Penn State. It was of five, and perhaps more, adults one who raped children, and the others who put the power of their offices ahead of decency, ethics and justice. Of those, one is in jail, another is dead, two more are indicted, a fifth probably will be, and there are others whose knowledge and inaction are likely to be revealed in time.It was also a failure not of football but of administration. Football is games and practices and players. Administration is about the handling of employees and university-wide issues. And the fact is that Paterno wasnt acting as a coach but as an administrator when he helped obscure and obstruct discovery and prevention of Sanduskys crimes.But the guilty are beyond the NCAAs reach, so the only reason for Emmert to want to punish those left behind with Mondays announcement is for the power to do so. And the only reason for him to do so without even the barest attempt at independent fact-finding is to get the power as quickly as possible.In short, he is one more guy who thinks having power is the solution, rather than the start of another problem. And just as people who think the death penalty was a good idea, or who worried more about the statue than the victims, or who wanted to bitch endlessly about symbolism without considering the solution, this is just trying to fix something with the same tool that broke it.And thats the most benign explanation.

More Team Talk