The NCAA handed out their punishment to the Penn State football program on Monday, and like it was expected, it was one hell of a punch in the gut.
The Nittany Lions were hit with a $60 million sanction, a four-year football postseason ban and a vacation of all wins dating to 1998, the organization said Monday morning. Also, Penn State must also reduce 10 initial and 20 total scholarships each year for a four-year period and are on a five year probational period.
In addition, the vacating of wins will be reflected upon the career numbers of former coach Joe Paterno. The loss of the 111 wins moves Paterno from the winningest college football coach of all-time to 12th on the list with 298. Florida State's Bobby Bowden retakes the top spot with 377 wins.
This punishment levied by the NCAA was swift, it was harsh, and it was honestly completely out of line.
Ok, before the torches are brandished and the pitchforks are raised, let's take a look at why this is an unjust action by the NCAA.
First of all, let's state that the actions of Jerry Sandusky were unforgivable and about as bad as they come. Also, the coverup by Joe Paterno, Mike McQueary, president Graham Spanier and vice-president Gary Schultz were almost equally bad and should send a shiver of disgust down the spine of any normal thinking person.
But let's be clear here, these four men may have broken laws and showed a complete lack of judgment or ethics, but what they didn't do was violate any NCAA rules. There were no broken football rules, they received no improper benefits, or illegally recruited players. No. What these four men did was break society's laws and it's there that they should meet their punishment.
In addition, the NCAA didn't even follow their own rules in doling out this punishment. The normal course of action when penalizing schools is to give the university due process of a 'committee on infractions' hearing. They issue a notice of allegations and then allow the university 90 days to respond before a hearing is scheduled. Following the hearing, the Infractions Committee then usually takes a minimum of six weeks, but it can take upwards of a year to issue it's findings.
Instead, feeling the weight of negative press and the pressure to do something, even though it was outside their own guidelines, the NCAA brought the hammer down on the entire Penn State football program and all players who have passed through it since 1998. Players, I might add, that had nothing to do with any of this mess.
And that's the rub behind all this. These sanctions and punishments that the NCAA felt obligated to hand down doesn't really affect any of the people involved; Sandusky is rightly in prison, Paterno is dead, though his legacy is gone, and the other two are no longer employed by the university. What this is, is just a grand gesture by college football to try to mitigate the negativity to it's brand, plain and simple.
There have been so many lives broken by the actions, or lack there of, of the four men named above. It's a shame that the NCAA thought it necessary to add to that by condemning thousands of athletes, rendering all they accomplished meaningless.
James LeBeau is a sports contributor for CraveOnline Sports and you can follow him on Twitter @JleBeau76 or subscribe on Facebook.com/CraveOnlineSports.
Photo Credit: AP