Should Penn State Football Get the Death Penalty?

By Coleman Clarke

The NCAA should investigate their options and use whatever legal means necessary to devise a punishment for the Penn State Football Program.

The question now is what the penalty should be for the school since it is obvious that there was a massive cover–up. Some have argued that they should receive the “death penalty” which would shut the football program down for five years. This was last doled out to Southern Methodist University, SMU, during the 1980s for recruiting violations. However, that involved monetary rewards by paying players which gave them a distinct advantage on the football field. There were no monetary gains or allegations of players at Penn State receiving improper benefits, so the line in the sand is not as easy to draw.

History has shown that the National Collegiate Athletic Association, NCAA, has punished programs in which clear and blatant violations have occurred involving recruiting violations ranging from athletes receiving money and gifts that are deemed “improper benefits.”

The latest example involves University of Southern California’s, USC, and Reggie Bush, who was stripped of his Heisman Trophy and completely erased from the USC record books. Additionally, USC suffered the loss of scholarships as a direct result of Bush receiving improper gifts from boosters of the University, which is a clear violation and leaves no room for ambiguity.

The situation at Penn State points to head coach Joe Paterno who clearly conspired to conceal the crimes committed by Sandusky in the interest of protecting the brand and maintaining the reputation of the football program which generates millions of dollars every year.

Possibly a correlation can be made since Paterno’s refusal to report Sandusky could have been driven by a desire to protect the financial interests of the football program. That, in itself, may constitute an NCAA violation.

However, it is not a given that the NCAA has jurisdiction in this matter to impose severe sanctions including the complete shutting down of the football program, which is the best course of action in the opinion of this writer.