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article imageOp-Ed: Joe Paterno, Penn State, Money and Ethics

By Sadiq Green     Nov 10, 2011 in Sports
State College - There was only one way for Penn State University to begin its journey down the road to redemption in the wake of its child abuse scandal and that was by firing head football coach Joe Paterno along with University President Graham Spanier.
The fact that Joe Paterno knew of the sordid behavior of one of his staff and failed to report it to law enforcement was sufficient cause to show him the door. The suggestion that Paterno should have been spared because he was not directly involved in the abuse of children by assistant coach Jerry Sandusky or that his status as a college football “legend” warrants special treatment speaks volumes to the misplaced priorities in our society.
The NCAA routinely penalizes college athletic programs for such grand sins as players accepting cars from a booster or selling game worn jerseys for cash to make ends meet. At the same time colleges such as Penn State reap billions of dollars from the labor of its student-athletes, some of whom will never receive a college degree or the riches of a professional sports career. Yet, there are those, including many Penn State students and football boosters, who believe that the abuse of children does not rise to a similar level of outrage as rule infractions.
Seriously?! Joe Paterno was rightfully shown the door yesterday evening. That Mr. Paterno thought he had the option of resigning at the end of the year is reflective of the arrogance of big-time college football. How could Paterno not report what he knew to law enforcement? How could school administrators mislead a grand jury investigating the matter? What we witnessed in the case of Penn State, is the ultimate expression of misplaced priorities in academia. It seems beyond belief, given what the university administration knew, that the coach was allowed to stay on the sidelines this season to break the college coaching record for wins in football. Penn State University allowed Paterno to remain at the helm of its football program for one reason – money.
College sports, football in particular, has become such a business that all that matters is the bottom line. It's being run by money, by the bowl games and by the BCS system. This is about money, greed and the BCS. It's about TV deals and forming super conferences. The revenue generated from college football is addictive, and so many institutions are feeding from the trough of the pigskin that the judgment of adults who should know better is clouded. It has spawned a mass exodus of colleges from one conference to another – with no regard for geography or traditional and regional rivalries or the impact to smaller intercollegiate sports programs - with the promise of bigger paydays. Has winning and making money become so important in college football that we see no problem with the abuse of children and we can carry on with business as usual? Just two seasons ago Paterno was under the threat of termination because Penn State was losing on the football field. Yet, there are those who rushed to his defense and rallied on campus after he was terminated for his ethical and moral failings. I suspect that had a woman or minority coach been at the center of such a scandal their condemnation would have been harsh and their termination swift.
We are talking about child abuse; innocent children being abused by a trusted adult on the campus of a state university. There can be no excuses. There is no amount of outrage that is sufficient in this matter. Despite the university finally taking action, the NCAA needs to heavily penalize the Penn State University football program. Nothing short of exclusion from BCS bowls for a five year period, a ban from television, ineligibility for conference championships and the loss of athletic scholarships is acceptable. If ever there was a cause for the equivalent of the NCAA’s “death penalty”, this is it. For the NCAA to do anything less will expose college sports governing authority as a sham.
If Joe Paterno was allowed to lead the Penn State football team onto the field Saturday it would have been a national disgrace. It is time for the Penn State community to rally around decency and send a clear message that the actions of its coaching staff were unacceptable. If not, the letters PSU will stand for Predator State University and forever blemish the credibility of a fine institution.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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