Monday, July 23, 2012

NCAA Punishes Penn State; I Still Have Questions

The NCAA issued a $60 million sanction, a four-year postseason ban and forced the Penn State University football program to vacate all wins from 1998 to 2011 on Monday.

The sanctions came down just days after Joe Paterno’s statue came down. The punishment was issued for the program’s part in the Jerry Sandusky case.

I’ve read the reports and I’ve listened to the legal experts. However, even after the courts, after the sentencing and after the punishment, in a way, I still don’t know what to believe.

There are those that know more than I do about the situation and claim that the punishment is fair or should be worse. There are also those, like me, who don’t know everything about the case and find it hard to draw an opinion as to whether the punishment was harsh or not enough.  

There are three coaches in all of sports that I have respected more than any other. Bob Knight, Mike Krzyzewski and Joe Paterno.

I believe that Knight, Coach K and Paterno were not only great coaches; I believe they were also great shapers of men. They led their teams to national championships and also graduated their student-athletes, taught them more than football and shaped their lives almost as much as their parents did before they went off to college.

I’ll admit it. When the story broke, I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe that somebody who commanded so much respect was part of something so tragic. The man, who had won more college football games than any other coach in history and did it with class, was part of something that could tarnish any legacy.

There’s something about it all that I cannot believe. Sandusky is guilty, there’s no doubt about that. However, I wish we could all know more about Paterno’s part in the whole thing. Unfortunately he has passed weeks after being terminated from the Penn State football program and can’t defend himself. His family is left to defend him and according to them, they haven’t been given much of a chance at all.

I just can’t see Paterno doing it. I can’t see the man who donated so much to the school, the program and the community covering up something so disgusting. Did he really know what was going on? Did somebody tell him something we didn’t hear? Did somebody convince him of something we don’t know?

I want answers to those questions before I can convict Joe Paterno. I can convict Jerry Sandusky because I have absolute proof of what he did and he had the chance to defend himself. I can’t do the same with Paterno.

I understand the sanctions dropped down on Penn State by the NCAA. In fact, they should probably feel lucky it wasn’t worse. The NCAA had to take drastic measure without laying down the “death penalty.” They had to appease their audience and their audience was calling for severe punishments.

There are so many things that we will never know about this case. Paterno will never be able to give his opinion or tell what he knows. That’s fact. Another fact is that the real victims in all of this are the children. Justice has been served for them and there is nothing more important than that.

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