By Beasley Reece
These are sad times in Happy Valley.
Monday morning the NCAA is expected to announce what they are calling unprecedented sanctions and penalties against the Penn State Football Program for its Guardian’s role in the cover up of the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal.
One report is predicting fines in excess of 30 million dollars. Some speculations extend all the way to a form of the death penalty. The fall is appropriately severe. People fired. Joe Paterno’s statue removed. The new Penn State President, Rodney Ericson called the 900 pound bronze tribute to Paterno “a source of division and an obstacle to healing”.
So what does this mean to the millions of Nittany Lions lovers who consider following their storied team an integral part of the fabric of their University experience? If Death Penalty is the ruling it will have lasting and perhaps permanent ramifications. The sentence is so sever that it has been handed down only once.
Take the case of Southern Methodist University. They were a powerhouse dating back to the 1940’s. SMU produced the likes of Heisman Trophy winner Doak Walker, 11 Bowl appearances, a national championship, and dozens of NFL Stars. But repeated violations, including a slush fund for players, led the NCAA to cancel SMU’s entire 1987 schedule. It’s the only time the NCAA has shut down a programs entire season. Scholarships and Bowl opportunities were removed and players were allowed to pedal their talents elsewhere. The result was just one winning season for the Mustangs over the next 20 years. They didn’t make another bowl game till 2009.
Is a similar fate justified in the case of Penn State?
That’s for others to decide but this reporter warns that the Death Penalty will make Jerry Sandusky the only winner in this sad affair. He hated Paterno for not retiring and making way for him to become the Head Coach. If the morning brings Death to Penn State Football Sandusky will be in his jail cell celebrating the brutalization of children, the demise of Joe Paterno’s legacy and perhaps even his life, the end of the program as we know it, and the utter destruction of the reputation of the institution he helped Paterno bring to the pinnacle of sports.
His victim list will grow exponentially. Add to the list of casualties’ money for Women’s sports for example. The football team produced 70 million dollars per season. That money helped fund the Women’ Lacrosse, Golf, and Field Hockey programs. The players expecting to wear the uniform in a few weeks are being victimized by events initiated by Sandusky’s sick criminal mind.
It took SMU 20 years to recover and find a balance between sports and education.
The new battle cry in Happy Valley may be, Go Penn State… in the year 2032.