PSU Reaction: If I were King…

July 13, 2012 | Simon Habtemariam

Before I say anything, please let me preface this post. I love the Justice System – I don’t think the system always gets it right, but I won’t hang a criminal in the court of public opinion without any sort of substantial evidence presented.

That being said, let’s imagine we lived in a world where I was king (scary thought). I’m far from a perfect person, I don’t think I’m any better than some of the people I’m about to slam; but let’s pretend for a second that I could pass judgement based solely off my opinion without considering logistics or due process. If I ruled all, I would dismantle the entire Penn State Athletic Department.

I would allow the student athletes to either stay at Penn State and retain their same scholarships or transfer without penalty or sitting out.

I’d exile the entire senior administration of the department and possibly revoke their pensions.

I would take all funds from donations, TV rights, merchandise, and distribute it evenly among Mr. Sandusky’s victims and, as a good friend of mine put it, “I’d order the Marines to tear down that damn Paterno statue, Saddam style.”

I love college football, I’m the type that runs dangerously close to the line of being sucked into “football culture,” but following the published findings in the Freeh report, I can’t help but burn for justice. While I don’t want to trample on the grave of the late Mr. Paterno or try to judge his character (because I don’t know him, good or bad) I think Penn State’s athletic department as a whole should have to answer for a gross misuse of power which enabled a monster to wreak havoc on a slew of innocent souls.

While many still debate on how to best punish a program without making its current participants pay, King Simon wants to present a choice to some parties involved. My first priority is the student athlete. Keyword: student. They should be allowed to attend the educational institution on which they’ve set their hearts without their scholarships being put into jeopardy. But, I also want to give them the choice to disenfranchise themselves from this program and continue their college career elsewhere. There are plenty of elite FCS schools that will take you in with open arms and (if you’re good enough) highlight you on a national level.

I love sports, but the main focus of the National Collegiate Athletic Association should be the college before athletics. Penn State’s highest athletic officials should no longer be allowed to franchise themselves with one of the largest academic institutions in the nation. Athletics exist to support the college, the college should not exist to feed the athletics money machine that exists today.

But let’s snap back to reality, what happens to Happy Valley now?

I don’t think the death penalty is a fit for this crime. The sins of the late coach, President Graham B. Spanier, Senior Vice President of Finance and Business Gary C. Schultz and Athletic Director Timothy M. Curley should be addressed separately. The crimes committed by Sandusky are heinous and the lack of action by high-officials in order to protect their brand is even more criminal in my mind. While paying athletes pales in comparison to these sins, I think there’s a different direction in reformation needed. While an extremely firm punishment needs to come down on the institution to prevent a dangerous precedent of non-action, these crimes were not directed at other schools. The death penalty should be reserved for settling injustice between colleges.

I think the athletic department should be prevented from making certain advancements over the next 5-10 years. TV rights, loss of scholarships and part of me wants to throw in a post-season ban for some time. First on the dockett, excluding the school from TV rights prevents the PSU image to drive revenue into the program. The same image Paterno and company set to protect should not be allowed to benefit this program financially.

Loss of scholarships, while you can argue affects the product on the field, prevents the program from advancing in the competitive landscape nationally and allows future athletes the option of not walking into the lion’s den that a PSU athletic career may soon become. I would rather potential athletes question attending Penn State than punish those already committed to a program under fire.

Finally, a postseason ban, like TV rights, takes away certain funding and privileges from the program that their precious image has granted. I put this at the end because it does directly affect the current PSU players, but like I said, I’d rather punish this program a little too much rather than too little. Not out of anger anymore, but to prevent this from ever happening again. Every college coach now on, when faced with a decision between your program’s reputation and the well-being of several human beings should never again have to think about which is the right choice.

“Protect the program.” How? Save face temporarily and damage the program long term? Or damage it today in order to save its future?