The following editorial appeared Tuesday in The Washington Post:
The NCAAS punishment of the Penn State football program broke all the rules. Thats good.
The Penn State program has been embroiled in scandal since a grand jury indicted former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky in November on numerous counts of sexually abusing young boys.
Typically, the NCAA would conduct its own investigation, give an accused university 90 days to respond and hold a hearing. In this case, Penn States trustees commissioned an independent inquiry, and former FBI chief Louis Freeh delivered a devastating account of institutional corruption so entrenched that it held a football program as more precious than vulnerable children. Those revelations changed everything, and rightly so.
As the associations president, Mark Emmert, announced Monday: We cannot look to NCAA history to determine how to handle circumstances so disturbing, shocking and disappointing. As the individuals charged with governing college sports, we have a responsibility to act.
The NCAA came up with a punishment more appropriate than the so-called death penalty, which would have banned football for at least a year. Students who arent to blame for the scandal will still get to play football, but the team will be barred from postseason games for four years.
The program will be fined $60 million, equivalent to one year of football revenue, and that money will go to victims of sex abuse and abuse prevention. The association also mandated the erasure of all Penn State football victories between 1998 and 2011 a move aimed at what Emmert called the sports are king mind-set.
That mind-set in which, to use Emmerts words, sports themselves can become too big to fail, too big to challenge enabled a conspiracy of silence around Sanduskys long-lasting crime spree.
Although the NCAA still manages a network of programs that too often privilege revenue over the wellbeing of student-athletes, this was an overdue statement on the unhealthy obsession with sports that can cloud the better judgment of those involved.
As if to underscore that message, Penn State removed the statue of Joe Paterno, who turned a blind eye to allegations against Sandusky. At more than 900 pounds and 7 feet tall, the statue is a testament to the power and might of the sports are king mind-set.
Lets hope dismantling it is the first step in toppling the culture that produced it.