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July 23, 2012

Penn State Fined $60 Million, Paterno Wins Vacated Since 1998: For its attempts to cover up a serial child molester in its coaching ranks, the NCAA has hit Penn State with a $60 million sanction, a four-year football postseason ban, four-year loss of 10 scholarships, and the removal of all wins dating to 1998, taking away the late coach Joe Paterno's status as the winningest coach in college football's highest level.

posted by rcade to football at 09:16 AM - 76 comments

They'll do what I was hoping they'd do with the money: apply it toward programs that protect children.

A four year punitive phase on bowl games means anyone they've recruited even today can transfer to another school and play right away. That's the one part that could sting the program as bad as the death-penalty. Bob O'Brien has his work cut out for him, definitely.

posted by NerfballPro at 09:21 AM on July 23

This will devastate Penn State football for a decade. By the time it recovers, O'Brien will be long gone. No top recruits are going to join a program that can't reach a bowl for four years and has 10 scholarships less than its opponents.

posted by rcade at 09:24 AM on July 23

I'm not sure why they didn't just hand down the death penalty for a couple years rather than this, but I suppose the impact will be similar. I will say that I had a feeling the NCAA would ease up, but I am impressed with the punishment that they levied, and I hope it serves it's purpose to discourage this sort of cover-up in the future.

I have never been a fan of stripping wins. I think it is a dumb punishment, and doesn't really matter. In this case, I think it is also particularly unwarranted, as there is is at least a rationale behind it in matters of ineligibility, but that is not the case here. In this situation, it just seems vindictive, so that the NCAA can take Joe Paterno's name out of the record book.

posted by bender at 09:39 AM on July 23

Shockingly harsh. I didn't think they would do anything like this. I disagree with the monetary fine. First and foremost this is a public university trying to educate students. Unless they find a way to pay this money without affecting the overall education budget, I find this troubling. Second, I think they should vacate wins from the 2002 season when the football department witnessed and failed to act. In 1998, the police cleared Sandusky then and said there was no wrongdoing. What is a future school supposed to take from this when a member of their staff is accused (and then cleared) of criminal wrongdoing?

posted by bperk at 09:41 AM on July 23

I have never been a fan of stripping wins.

I'm a huge fan of that symbolic gesture. Who doubts that the record as winningest coach was a motivator for the coverup, especially last year when Penn State officials even covered up what they told the grand jury? He will now be remembered less for on-field achievement and forgotten more quickly. Godspeed.

posted by rcade at 09:49 AM on July 23

I like the stripping of wins. Yeah Eddie Robinson and Bobby Bowden!

posted by bperk at 09:53 AM on July 23

I have never been a fan of stripping wins.

I'm a huge fan of that symbolic gesture.

As a stats guy, I find it ridiculous to attempt to strip wins or alter records. If you want to strip titles or achievements, go ahead.

What happens to the teams that lost to Penn State during that time? Are they credited with a win? Probably not, so then you have this weird imbalance of losses to wins.

It makes me itch.

posted by grum@work at 09:59 AM on July 23

I think they should vacate wins from the 2002 season when the football department witnessed and failed to act. In 1998, the police cleared Sandusky then and said there was no wrongdoing.

1998 was the right date to start vacating wins. I just reread the Freeh report, and although the police had dropped the matter at the time, they had enough warning signs to deal with him on the spot. Plus, it was 1999 where Sandusky and Penn St. negotiated his (quite generous) exit packet upon retirement, and even then they were telling him not to bring "guests" to the facilities for workouts or showers. He brought 'em anyway, people saw him bring 'em, and those who could've stopped him, didn't.

I'm not a fan of stripping wins myself, but dropping him from 409 wins to 298 wins essentially takes Paterno out the discussion for the most successful college coach of all time through sheer numbers. rcade's right, over time he'll fade into obscurity as opposed to being remembered as a hero.

posted by NerfballPro at 10:07 AM on July 23

Bowden has been pontificating on Paterno a bit lately, too much so for my taste. I had a feeling that Penn State wins could be vacated at some point, and that Bowden would be better served to keep his thoughts to himself.

One of the ominous curiosities of the swiss precision timeline of Paterno's downfall and departure is that the shit did not begin to hit the fan in a major way until immediately after Paterno got win number 409, passing Robinson.

That ugly win against Illinois was to be his last. And now it no longer exists.

posted by beaverboard at 10:14 AM on July 23

I just reread the Freeh report, and although the police had dropped the matter at the time, they had enough warning signs to deal with him on the spot.

Punishing him for a crime that the police decided he didn't commit? The police were flat-out wrong and we know that now. They should have pursued this case further. However, the idea that Penn State should have punished Sandusky anyway through his retirement package or some other way just seems to create an untenable position for a school. I think they should let police handle crimes, and that is what I think was their huge failure in 2001. In 1998, the police and prosecutors were the ones who failed the victims.

posted by bperk at 10:20 AM on July 23

Punishing him for a crime that the police decided he didn't commit?

Employers don't need a criminal conviction to justify ridding themselves of an employee. Penn State's leaders knew serious and troubling allegations of child sex abuse by Sandusky in 1998. Few employers would keep someone like that around. Even fewer would reward him with an exit package that gave him lifetime access to their facilities, including a private place for him to shower with children.

posted by rcade at 10:30 AM on July 23

Bowden has been pontificating on Paterno a bit lately, too much so for my taste. I had a feeling that Penn State wins could be vacated at some point, and that Bowden would be better served to keep his thoughts to himself.

I have the same creeped out feeling when it comes to Bowden, bb. Doesn't he have somewhere to be, to use his position of power to push his religious ideals on those that are subject to his whims?

Same with the Paterno family. I don't think there is a soul in this world that gives a shit what they think.

posted by NoMich at 10:42 AM on July 23

"just seems to create an untenable position for a school"

Untenable, really? Difficult, maybe. Yes, the police and prosecutors let everyone down in 1998. That doesn't eliminate Penn St. from doing what is "right". And I don't think "right" smells like granting someone who you're pretty damn sure is a child predator with a sweet retirement package and continued access to your university. Couldn't the appropriate actions taken by Penn St be conversations such as a) "Police and prosecutors, you might think you're doing Penn St a favor be sweeping this away, but please don't go soft on this guy on our account." and b) "Sandusky, we can't take criminal law into our own hands, but there is the gate leading out of this university. Walk through it, never look back, never set foot on these grounds again, and by god, if we even catch a whiff of you being up to no good ..."

Certainly not a fun situation to find yourself in as a university, but to say you can't do anything about it ... BS.

posted by littleLebowski at 10:54 AM on July 23

Employers don't need a criminal conviction to justify ridding themselves of an employee.

I guess I just fundamentally disagree that a police investigation should mean that a person gets fired or punished. I also question whether this is actually legal given that many schools have to follow due process since they are considered state actors. And, Sandusky was retiring anyway, so the argument is that Penn State should have reduced the perks of his retirement package (that was already being negotiated) because he was accused and cleared of a crime. I don't think a police investigation should be used in this way.

And I don't think "right" smells like granting someone who you're pretty damn sure is a child predator with a sweet retirement package and continued access to your university.

The police cleared Sandusky in 1998 and reported to them that there was no criminal behavior. How could they be "pretty damn sure" he was a predator? They deserve no quarter based on their actions in 2001, but the NCAA is pretty much punishing Penn State for failing to punish someone who had been cleared by the police of wrongdoing. That should never be okay.

posted by bperk at 11:08 AM on July 23

But I have been avoiding SpoFi over the last few weeks because I am not interested in rehashing the subject. It is being covered elsewhere.

With all due respect, if you're done with the topic then don't engage. Others are not done with it, and in a community, you don't have to participate in the aspects that don't interest you.

In 1998, the police and prosecutors were the ones who failed the victims.

Unless you believe that Penn State was up front and honest about everything they know, I don't think you can blame the authorities solely. Like in mobster and gang families, there's an institutional advantage that they have over the authorities. They know what to hide and where, and the limits to what authorities can do without a guide (someone speaking out) are often pretty limiting.

They deserve no quarter based on their actions in 2001, but the NCAA is pretty much punishing Penn State for failing to punish someone who had been cleared by the police of wrongdoing.

The idea is that Penn State knew there was a crime and covered it up. The fact they did a good job and the police couldn't prosecute does not excuse them from the fact they hid the metaphorical bloody knife.

posted by dfleming at 11:09 AM on July 23

IMO the NCAA did exactly the right thing. They sent a strong and clear message that the primary obligation of a school is to educate, protect and nurture young people. No matter how much money or how valuable to the school their football or other sports programs are, placing them above the primary obligation to young people will mean the death of the program.

NCAA had little choice, and if anything they were easy in the sense there is still a chance in the future for Penn State football to exist. In four years it will have a chance of returning. Although irrespective of NCAA sanctions it may be the lingering stigma that delivers the death blow.

I especially like the vacating of the wins. That punishes the programs legacy, and is the almost the only way you could do so retroactively. It wipes out any accomplishments accrued while the powers that be were trying to preserve their precious programs reputation, and sends a pretty clear message to any school in the future faced with the similar circumstance of choosing reputation or program over right.

posted by Atheist at 11:12 AM on July 23

This will devastate Penn State football for a decade. By the time it recovers, O'Brien will be long gone. No top recruits are going to join a program that can't reach a bowl for four years and has 10 scholarships less than its opponents.

It's twice the bowl ban that USC got and one extra year of fewer scholarships. USC doesn't seem that devastated by their sanctions.

Yes, this is going to keep the top recruits from picking Penn State over Ohio State and Alabama, but it's not going to keep them from picking Penn State over Pitt and Minnesota.

posted by Etrigan at 11:14 AM on July 23

... the NCAA is pretty much punishing Penn State for failing to punish someone who had been cleared by the police of wrongdoing.

He wasn't cleared by police of wrongdoing for the 2001 shower rape. How about looking at the overall picture here instead of making excuses that aren't borne out by the facts?

posted by rcade at 11:14 AM on July 23

They sent a strong and clear message that the primary obligation of a school is to educate, protect and nurture young people not to tarnish the NCAA brand.

FTFY.

claiming that this isn't relevant to a sports site reminds me of the critics saying that the NCAA shouldn't have been involved in punishment because this situation wasn't football-related. That latter sentiment is utter horseshit.

My position has been that the NCAA shouldn't be passing judgement on this case because it is a tin-pot dictatorship making billions off shamateurism that should stick to issuing bullshit edicts and bullshit punishments. It's like asking a parking attendant to pass judgement on a murder in a parking garage.

posted by etagloh at 11:46 AM on July 23

etagloh, as long as he didn't work at that parking garage he could probably be on the jury to pass just that judgement.

posted by apoch at 11:56 AM on July 23

It's like asking a parking attendant to pass judgement on a murder in a parking garage.

Actually, it's more like a parking lot company passing judgement on the parking attendant who decided to let the guys with guns into the parking garage, even though the attendant was pretty sure the gun men were angry at that other guy in the corner.

Or something like that.

posted by grum@work at 11:59 AM on July 23

He wasn't cleared by police of wrongdoing for the 2001 shower rape. How about looking at the overall picture here instead of making excuses that aren't borne out by the facts?

Read what I wrote instead of accusing me of making excuses when I wasn't. I said the vacating wins should start after the 2001 assault not in 1998 when Sandusky was, in fact, cleared by the police.

The idea is that Penn State knew there was a crime and covered it up. The fact they did a good job and the police couldn't prosecute does not excuse them from the fact they hid the metaphorical bloody knife.

There is nothing in the Freeh report to indicate that they knew more than they were telling in 1998, so I don't think the NCAA could have been assuming that when they picked the vacating wins date. According to the Freeh report, what killed the 1998 case was a psychologist who thought Sandusky had boundary issues because he didn't show appropriate pedophile tendencies (or some crap like that).

posted by bperk at 11:59 AM on July 23

According to the Freeh report, what killed the 1998 case was a psychologist who thought Sandusky had boundary issues because he didn't show appropriate pedophile tendencies (or some crap like that).

Wait, what? I thought a psychologist said he had "pedophile tendencies" in 1998.

Edit:
Ah, there was a second psychologist who said he wasn't.

Of course, that psychologist worked for the agency that licensed Sandusky as a foster parent, so he might have had a reason to down play any issues he found...

posted by grum@work at 12:05 PM on July 23

There is nothing in the Freeh report to indicate that they knew more than they were telling in 1998,

They knew Sandusky was showering with a young boy in 1998.

If you find out someone is embezzling money from your bank from 1998 to the present, but you only thought he had some "accounting irregularities" when you investigated in 1998, I still think you can get punished today for not figuring it out back in 1998.

posted by grum@work at 12:09 PM on July 23

The metatalk about Penn State coverage on SportsFilter should take place here.

posted by rcade at 12:13 PM on July 23

If you find out someone is embezzling money from your bank from 1998 to the present, but you only thought he had some "accounting irregularities" when you investigated in 1998, I still think you can get punished today for not figuring it out back in 1998.

To follow your analogy, if someone was accused of embezzling and then cleared by the police saying no crime was committed, the bank wouldn't be punished for not figuring it out back in 1998. If the bank does their own investigation (or no investigation) and even fails to report it like Penn State did in 2001, then they ought to be on the hook for that.

posted by bperk at 01:19 PM on July 23

It's twice the bowl ban that USC got and one extra year of fewer scholarships. USC doesn't seem that devastated by their sanctions.

I have to admit, as someone who doesn't like Lane Kiffin, that he and his staff have done an unbelievable job of holding the program together, riding out the storm, and reloading at USC. I'll be stunned beyond measure if Bill O'Brien's capabilities in this regard are anywhere close to Kiffin's.

Yes, this is going to keep the top recruits from picking Penn State over Ohio State and Alabama, but it's not going to keep them from picking Penn State over Pitt and Minnesota.

Absolutely so, but partly because the family/school loyalties of potential in-state recruits are so sharply divided between Pitt and PSU. I had no idea how deep the rivalry ran between the two schools until I went to central PA and saw it for myself on a family by family basis. It's not on the same level of hysteria as Alabama-Auburn, but it's still significant.

Calling out Minnesota is appropriate, because to me, that's the school that PSU ought to use as its near term benchmark target for success in the Big 10. If O'Brien could manage 3 conference wins in 2013, he'd be doing extremely well under the circumstances.

posted by beaverboard at 01:31 PM on July 23

... the bank wouldn't be punished for not figuring it out back in 1998.

If it was concluded that the bank should have done more, it could still be found liable in a civil suit or punished by federal regulators. Criminal courts are just one avenue for punishing wrongdoing. Penn State is under the authority of the criminal justice system, the civil courts and the NCAA, and presumably many other bodies as well.

posted by rcade at 01:33 PM on July 23

Philosophical question: If you are invested in Penn State's punishment, are the imposition of these sanctions enough or does the team have to lose while they are in effect?

posted by rcade at 01:49 PM on July 23

I wouldn't consider myself "invested" but I definitely think the punishment is appropriate ... but, I'd honestly almost rather see the team perform admirably and even win throughout this. I hold no ill will toward the current staff and certainly not the players. While I feel punishment had to be levied, as a reminder of the athletic program's proper "place" in the grand scheme of things and what is "right", the most severe penalites against the most applicable offenders have or are going to be assessed directly to those individuals. Heck, if the university and the football team approach this in a humanly decent way, they could use "football wins" to bring even more positive light to the healing process, moreso than they'd probably have a pulpit to do, if they were losing.

posted by littleLebowski at 01:56 PM on July 23

To follow your analogy, if someone was accused of embezzling and then cleared by the police saying no crime was committed, the bank wouldn't be punished for not figuring it out back in 1998.

If it was found out later that the police said no crime was committed because the information they had was very limited and controlled by the bank, then I think the bank should be punished.

If you are invested in Penn State's punishment, are the imposition of these sanctions enough or does the team have to lose while they are in effect?

I never really cared how Penn State did in football (being a Canadian and not having a strong interest in any team except those somewhat nearby (Michigan)), so if they go ahead and have a good couple of seasons after all this, I'm fine with that.

posted by grum@work at 02:00 PM on July 23

We interrupt this thread to bring you a moment of levity in the form of the Paterno family statement in the wake of this morning's announcement of the NCAA sanctions against Penn St.

And now, back to the discussion. Somebody really needs to tell that family to STFU; nobody's listening and they're only discrediting themselves.

posted by NerfballPro at 02:22 PM on July 23

If it was found out later that the police said no crime was committed because the information they had was very limited and controlled by the bank, then I think the bank should be punished.

Sure, they could probably also be charged with withholding evidence. Do you think that is applicable to the 1998 case? I don't see anything in the Freeh report to indicate that they knew something about it besides what the police were reporting to them.

posted by bperk at 02:39 PM on July 23

The Paterno family is claiming the NCAA is defaming coach Paterno with their punishment. WOW that Paterno family is sharp. News flash to Paterno family, that is exactly what the NCAA intended, and rightfully so. Although I would say coach Paterno managed to destroy and defame his own legacy starting with a very bad decision in 1998 and going forward from there.

posted by Atheist at 02:53 PM on July 23

If you are invested in Penn State's punishment, are the imposition of these sanctions enough or does the team have to lose while they are in effect?

I hardly ever wish ill on people participating in sports -- even pro teams with obnoxious players I don't like , I don't want to see them lose as much as I want others to win. Even in this instance, where it does feel the losing is part of a (deserved_ punishment, a part of me couldn't help but be happy if some 'leftover' athletes were able to win humbly* at Penn State after playing their heart out and proved that even without those scholarships and the NCAA's blessing and the almighty Paterno and under the darkest of dark spots, they could win.

I wouldn't take ANY odds on that actually happening. But if it did, it would be the feel good story I'd feel worst about.

* I'm pretty sure some fan reaction would make me angry enough for this to not be a question and I'd be able to get back up on my high horse no problem.

posted by MCMikeNamara at 03:09 PM on July 23

If you are invested in Penn State's punishment, are the imposition of these sanctions enough or does the team have to lose while they are in effect?

The team that takes the field for Penn St. this September really had nothing to do with what happened; it sucks they have to bear the brunt of the collateral damage this scandal caused. I'd like to see them win a few games under the close scrutiny they'll be under regardless.

posted by NerfballPro at 03:16 PM on July 23

Three things that are being said in most of the posts here are bothering me. It's not that I disagree with them, nor is it that, with a Penn State alumnus in the family, I will try to defend Penn State. Rather, there seem to be some inaccuracies and one thing that seems somewhat out of line.

First, the 1998 case was dropped because the Center County District Attorney felt that he could not make a case from the evidence he had. One parent had expressed concern, but her son's potential testimony in the opinion of the District Attorney likely would not have been conclusive enough by itself to gain a conviction, nor was there any corroborating evidence available. Since Mr. Sandusky was an employee of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (Penn State is, after all, a public institution), he was protected by a number of state and federal employment rules, and could not be summarily fired based upon suspicion of having committed a crime. Personal misconduct unrelated to job performance, even as egregious as that of Sandusky, unless proven, cannot usually cause termination of employment. Whether Penn State might or might not have considered this option is now subject only for conjecture.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania sometime in 1998 or 1999, it might have been earlier, as I'm unsure of the date, put into place a temporary retirement incentive for its long-term employees in order to reduce payroll. This was to be a temporary initiative. It was at this time that Paterno approached Sandusky with the advice that Sandusky would not be considered as a candidate for head coach at Penn State because of his (Sandusky's) involvement with the Second Mile program and the program's demands on his time. This retirement program was available to any state employee in Pennsylvania, and was not designed specifically for Sandusky. Further, Sandusky's access to Penn State facilities was his right as a professor emeritus (coach emeritus in his case, but the same status) of the University. That he abused this right is obvious.

The thing that seems out of line is the vacating of Penn State victories. This seems calculated to preserve such "honor" as the NCAA might have. These games will not disappear from history. but the records will still be there for all to see. It looks like something from an Orwell novel, that is, to make Joe Paterno a non-person and try to make his name disappear. It won't, nor should it.

posted by Howard_T at 03:29 PM on July 23

Open note to the Paterno family. To me, it's just shocking the lengths to which you are going to avoid acknowledging any sort of culpability on the part of JoePa. It seems to me that it just takes all credibility and empathetic capital away from you when you say "We didn't get a chance to tell our side" or "We didn't see the Freeh Report before it was released." I'm not really sure what would have changed, if any of that was different, but hey, your choice.

But just in case you want to try to salvage anything that is left of the now deceased family patriarch, I propose you try these words on for size. Ready? "Our father/husband/grandfather, etc was a kind, loving human being who devoted his entire life to the good of the Penn State community. We recognize at this time the fact that he made an unfortunate decision that caused irreperable harm to many people. He thought that he was doing what was right for this community, but in hindsight, he was horribly wrong. The fact that he did not understand the true gravity and severity of the situation in no way condones or excuses his failure of judgement. We would ask that those who were injured please accept the sincere regret of the Paterno family, and join us all in the process of healing and forgiveness which Coach Paterno would certainly wish for all of us."

And then shut the fuck up and go back to your lives.

posted by tahoemoj at 03:35 PM on July 23

The thing that seems out of line is the vacating of Penn State victories.

Why? It's not like it's a novel punishment invented for this case.

posted by yerfatma at 04:03 PM on July 23

The university president and board of directors passing all the blame to someone who cannot fight back. Cover up was in the hands of the president and board, when the police said not enough evidence it then would be up to the board of directors to push for an investigation not Paterno.

posted by ic23b at 04:09 PM on July 23

Interesting tidbit. The last Penn State quarterback to record an official victory is Mike McQueary on Nov. 22, 1997.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 04:13 PM on July 23

"The fact that he did not understand the true gravity and severity of the situation in no way condones or excuses his failure of judgement. We would ask that those who were injured please accept the sincere regret of the Paterno family, and join us all in the process of healing and forgiveness which Coach Paterno would certainly wish for all of us."

That just opens Paterno's estate up to a lawsuit from one of the victims, as it implies negligence on his part.

posted by grum@work at 04:25 PM on July 23

It was at this time that Paterno approached Sandusky with the advice that Sandusky would not be considered as a candidate for head coach at Penn State because of his (Sandusky's) involvement with the Second Mile program and the program's demands on his time.

It might have been for his involvement with Second Mile, or it might have been his involvement in "extra curricular activities" related to the Second Mile program.

It just seems a bit coincidental that Paterno asked Sandusky to retire right after the near-miss with the law.

posted by grum@work at 04:28 PM on July 23

I believe (but didn't confirm in the report) that Sandusky was negotiating his retirement before his brush with the law.

Interesting tidbit. The last Penn State quarterback to record an official victory is Mike McQueary on Nov. 22, 1997.

That seems wrong. Maybe they should vacate more wins.

posted by bperk at 04:42 PM on July 23

as it implies negligence on his part

Yeah, I see that. And I suppose it does explain the family's public position. I'll just go back to thinking they should shut the hell up.

posted by tahoemoj at 05:52 PM on July 23

That's money being taken out of the students hides, and highway robbery. Sandusky is the only person responsible for the atrocity. Let him be fined. Spreading the blame for one man's act is both stupid and unreasonable.

posted by EEEEE at 06:26 PM on July 23

That's money being taken out of the students hides ...

No, it isn't. The athletics program is self-supporting and turns an enormous profit each year.

posted by rcade at 06:40 PM on July 23

Sandusky is the only person responsible for the atrocity.

Do you sincerely believe this, or are you just trolling?

posted by tommytrump at 07:23 PM on July 23

All the other punishments are justified and I have no issues with them.

I don't get vacating the victories, though. I get it as a punishment, I guess, but I feel like its going back and rewriting history. My logic is that victories should be vacated if the offense was something that specifically led to the victories - like cheating or steroids or what have you.

The crimes of Penn State's athletic program and administration absolutely justify the severe punishments. I don't deny that vacating the victories feels satisfying, but it is illogical. Presumably, those victories would have happened regardless of whether Sandusky was turned in in 1998 or 2001.

In fact, that is part of the point of all of this. Penn State's administration (including the President, the Athletic Director and the Head Coach) would have actually preserved the school's honor and not done damage to the school's reputation by acting decisively at 2001 at the very least. Doing the right thing was Penn State's reputation. How would they have harmed their reputation by doing the right thing? Idiots!

Anyhow, statistics are statistics. I know the NCAA is ashamed of Paterno, but I think they should have let his victory record stand. Let him sit at the top of the list so that every time somebody looks at the statistics they can say "wow, a shame such a successful coach couldn't have done the right thing by those abused kids. Maybe wins and losses don't means so much as how you behave after all."

posted by Joey Michaels at 07:35 PM on July 23

As far as moral stands go, I love the vacating of the wins.

It shows that the NCAA will not only punish the PSU football program moving forward, but it invalidates everything that program has achieved from the point in time where it should have done something to put Sandusky in jail. From the top down. It hits Paterno in the only place where it counts - the record for most wins.

I also agree with Kevin Blackistone on PTI that the NCAA should have given PSU the death penalty for multiple years and suspended their "membership" in the NCAA entirely. Let them reapply and let other schools vote on how to handle this situation. Let everyone take a long hard look at money, legacy and privilege in college athletics and pledge to higher standards.

posted by phaedon at 07:46 PM on July 23

This might be the only NCAA punishment I've ever agreed with; the only time their position as a hypocritical body of exploitation has some use. For the first time, the scavenger is devouring the right corpse.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 08:14 PM on July 23

Do you sincerely believe this, or are you just trolling?

The criminal is the only person responsible for Uncle Ben's death. Despite great power, Spider-Man had no responsibility.

posted by rcade at 08:20 PM on July 23

This might be too meta, but...Uncle Ben is dead? Where the hell am I going to get my rice?!

posted by tahoemoj at 09:41 PM on July 23

I might just be letting my statistics-wonk-side affect my judgement here vis a vis the victories. It feels a little bit like the NCAA saying "and also, we're going to say that the temperature for the last ten years was 62 degrees everywhere."

I mean, the NCAA can say it, they can even change the books, but the wins were still wins. They'll still be mentioned in the annals of NCAA history, albeit with phrases like "had Penn State not sheltered a child rapist, their record would be..." or in trivia contests ("Which NCAA coach held the record for most wins before it was stripped from he because his program protected a pedophile").

Anyhow, even this (illogical to me) punishment is warranted and I was glad to see the NCAA enforce some serious consequences.

posted by Joey Michaels at 09:46 PM on July 23

Spreading the blame for one man's act is both stupid and unreasonable

Using your power as a so-called leader to cover up the most disgusting crime known to man is far worse.

Joe wasn't a leader of men, he was a leader of his own empire and nothing else.

posted by cixelsyd at 10:27 PM on July 23

My logic is that victories should be vacated if the offense was something that specifically led to the victories - like cheating or steroids or what have you.

Including the presence of a head coach who maybe shouldn't have still had that job at that point?

posted by lil_brown_bat at 09:26 AM on July 24

I agree that the loss of victories is clearly punitive and has nothing to do with the level playing field that's supposed to be the NCAA's secondary goal (after "protecting student-athletes," which also isn't really a factor here). However, I'm okay with it being punitive, because this is a thing that needed to be punished.

posted by Etrigan at 09:55 AM on July 24

Joe Paterno in 1987 on the NCAA cancelling SMU's 1988 season: "It's unbelievable to think that kind of corruption came right from the top of the power structure. The NCAA did what it had to do."

posted by rcade at 12:56 PM on July 24

"I can't retire because it would leave college football in the hands of "the Jackie Sherrills and the Barry Switzers".
-Paterno, 1979


"I'm not a guy who looks back. I really don't."
-Paterno, 1996

posted by beaverboard at 01:54 PM on July 24

So say a college professor is found guilty of sexually abusing children. Does the school vacate the passing grades of the students who studied under him? The atheltes who were on the team during the "vacated" wins are being punished for a crime they had no knowledge of nor part of. The NCAA is wrong in my view to have sanctioned the decision. Two wrongs don't make a right.

posted by wildbill1 at 04:26 PM on July 24

That analogy doesn't fit. A college class is not a team achievement.

posted by rcade at 04:38 PM on July 24

The atheltes who were on the team during the "vacated" wins are being punished for a crime they had no knowledge of nor part of.

The athletes don't have "wins". The team has "wins", the athletes have statistics. I haven't heard any indication that the statistics for those players are being altered in any way.

posted by grum@work at 04:42 PM on July 24

Feeling like playing field wins are in some way comparable to academic achievements, I'd say that's a good description of the problem right there.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 05:10 PM on July 24

And the statistics for the players who didn't play one or more of those games? What stiatistics do they show? And the athelete who used performance enhancing drugs, does the league vacate those games? Imagine what would happen to league standings, playoff potential etc. I hold with my original post. Don't punish the in inocent ones.

posted by wildbill1 at 05:20 PM on July 24

After sleeping on it, I like the voided victories a little better. It still offends my sense of logic, but hopefully it will send a message to any coach who values his reputation over actual people when a crime has been committed that that won't be tolerated.

posted by Joey Michaels at 05:36 PM on July 24

The atheltes who were on the team during the "vacated" wins are being punished for a crime they had no knowledge of nor part of.

How many USC football players knew about Reggie Bush taking money from an agent? I suspect it wasn't something he paraded around the locker room.

Plus, as others have stated, no one cares about how many wins you had in college once you hit the pros. As I said over on the other site, "Kellen Moore, former quarterback of Boise State, has the most wins of any Division I-A college QB -- I could not tell you who is second if you held a gun to my head." And to add to that, I'll point out that no one appears to care how many wins you had in college even when you hit the pros -- Moore was undrafted.

Think about how many NFL players ever talk about their college stats. It's damn near zero, because they know that it's a different game. Bragging about "playing in January" after never seeing an NFL start makes you sound like Al Bundy, not Joe Montana.

posted by Etrigan at 05:50 PM on July 24

And the statistics for the players who didn't play one or more of those games? What stiatistics do they show? And the athelete who used performance enhancing drugs, does the league vacate those games?

Those who are newly arrived at this discussion may have missed the many times it was pointed out that there is no such thing as perfect, comprehensive, universal justice resulting in a single action (even a really really big single action by a big scary organization like the NCAA). Rant all you want, but permit me to suggest that you really don't want to live in a world where no act of justice to rectify a massive, egregious, indisputible wrong cannot proceed because someone else might wrongfully get a five-minute detention as a side effect.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 06:29 PM on July 24

There's absolutely nothing good about this entire situation. Mainly the crimes, of course, but the cover-up, the penalties, and everything yet to come. Nothing can compensate for the abuse Jerry Sandusky committed, and I doubt any of the victims are celebrating. What that horrible asshole took from these people can't be replaced or made up for. Millions upon millions of dollars, many less scholarships for prospective students...and who really cares about voided wins. They're meaningless. My only hope is that any legal cases still to come to the guilty won't fall apart, as so many seem to do when our legal system gets involved. Spanier now saying he, himself was abused as a child? I see further problems with these issues as they move forward.

posted by dyams at 07:15 PM on July 24

Spanier said he was physically beaten as a child, to the point he had to have his nose repaired multiple times.

posted by rcade at 07:56 PM on July 24

And the statistics for the players who didn't play one or more of those games? What stiatistics do they show?

I have no idea what you are talking about here. Statistics for players that didn't play? What does that mean? Is it a Zen thing, like trees making noises that no one is around to hear?

And the athelete who used performance enhancing drugs, does the league vacate those games?

In pro team sports, I can't think of a single league that has voided/vacated any wins from any teams that were found to use performance enhancing drugs.

I'm not sure what you are aiming at here.

Imagine what would happen to league standings, playoff potential etc. I hold with my original post. Don't punish the in inocent ones.

Professional teams have been penalized by leagues for misconduct by deducting points from standings. Don't European football leagues punish wayward teams (financial misconduct, for example) with a loss of points?

posted by grum@work at 10:12 PM on July 24

Don't European football leagues punish wayward teams (financial misconduct, for example) with a loss of points?

Yes. Portsmouth were docked nine points in 2009/10 in the Premiership, started last season in the Championship at minus 10 points and, if they survive, will start this year in League 1 at minus 10 points.

Meanwhile one of the two biggest teams in Scotland, Glasgow Rangers, were punished so heavily for financial irregularities that they've elected to reform as a new company and start over in the lowest tier of Scottish League football.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 12:06 AM on July 25

Rangers FC was not forced by the Scottish Football league to fold. They were forced to fold by the HM Revenue and Customs (British IRS) because after they audited their taxes it became apparent they owed the British government somewhere on the order of 130 million. Because of this the government liquidated the team.

All the Scottish Football did was deduct 10 points from their standings and ban them from playing in international tournaments for the year.

The reason that the new Rangers are now in the lowest league is that none of the SPL teams would let the reformed team back at any other level other than the very bottom of the pyramid.

posted by jmauro2000 at 08:35 AM on July 25

SFA also put in (are putting in) a 12 month transfer ban as of 1 September.

But seriously, how did Rangers get £130M in debt to the taxman? Without, that is, getting called on the carpet much sooner.

posted by billsaysthis at 08:53 AM on July 25

This thread is finally starting to wind down, but allow me to add one more footnote before putting this to bed (for now): PSU actually faced a four-year death penalty, according to Erickson, and confirmed by Emmert. This would've been a likely result had PSU not agreed to these sanctions.

posted by NerfballPro at 06:00 PM on July 25

There will be days when Coach O'Brien might wish that a 4 year ban had happened.

Being freed from his PSU contract and moving on to another job - any other job - would be an easier road than the one he's on.

posted by beaverboard at 06:36 PM on July 25

There's gotta be something kind of freeing about the situation he's in, though. He cannot possibly do a bad job, as long as he doesn't cover up a decade-long series of felonies. Zero wins in 2012? Sanctions. Zero wins in 2013, 2014, 2015? Saaanctions. Zero wins in 2016? I haven't been able to recruit. Dude has better job security than Urban Meyer.

posted by Etrigan at 07:06 PM on July 25

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