This morning the NCAA came down hard on Penn State in an unprecedented action not involving infractions of NCAA rules. Penn State was hit with a four year bowl ban, $60 million fine and a reduction of 10 initial scholarships and 20 scholarships for the next four years. Also 111 wins vacated from 1998 to 2011, basically symbolically ending Joe Paterno's legacy.
While the NCAA didn't give Penn State the death penalty, it did cripple the program for the next 10 to 20 year if not more. Players still eligible can transfer to other schools and play immediately.
The feeding frenzy of coaches trying to lure Penn State players away might show football programs are not even thinking twice about happened to the Nittany Lions today. I doubt that the punishment of Penn State will curb the spending and power of college football.
Even though NCAA president Mark Emmert says the Penn State punishment doesn't open Pandora's Box in college sports. It does raise a serious question of why not.
The NCAA did nothing in 2003 when Baylor basketball player Carlton Dotson murdered teammate Patrick Dennehy. Former Baylor head coach Dave Bliss even conspired to cover up the true facts of Dennehy’s murder. Baylor was punished for NCAA violations but in there was no punishment that was included for the murder of Dennehy. Baylor basketball has bounced back to play in the post season in basketball four times since the NCAA levied penalties on the Bears in 2005.
Should the NCAA go back and punish Baylor (retroactively punishing school is something the NCAA does all the time)?
What about the death of Virginia women’s lacrosse Yeardley Love? In 2010, Love was murdered by her former boyfriend and men’s lacrosse player George Huguely.
Love’s mother, Sharon Love, is suing the state and coaches ignored Huguely's erratic behavior, including two alcohol-related arrests, frequent intoxication and attacks on another female student, a teammate and a Virginia tennis player.
Sharon Love claims the university, head coach Dom Starsia, assistant coach Marc Van Arsdale, and athletic director Craig Littlepage didn’t discipline Huguely for his behavior or get him treatment for anger management and alcohol abuse.
If the claims are true, should Virginia be punished for not protecting Love from Huguely and because of their lack of concern she ended up dead?
In an ongoing investigation, several Montana football players along with another man are accused of gang raping a fellow student. In the Montana case, head coach Robin Pflugrad disciplined several players but didn’t report the incidents to his superiors.
Montana university president Royce Engstrom said in a statement "The University of Montana has determined not to renew the contracts of Athletics Director Jim O'Day and head football coach Robin Pflugrad." Then Engstron thanked both O’Day and Pflugrad for their service as he let them go.
The Department of Justice is investigating the university and campus police, along with the Missoula Police Department and the Missoula County Attorney’s Office for how they handle sexual assault allegations. For three years the Department of Justice alleges that those listed above failed to investigate or prosecute numerous allegations of rape.
Now that the NCAA has opened the door, should they come down just as hard on Montana as they did against Penn State? Would there an outcry publically if the NCAA didn’t come down hard on Montana? There already should be some outcry that the media is not covering a smaller Football Championship Subdivision program like it has a bigger Football Bowl Subdivision program like Penn State.
Will the NCAA do anything to TCU after a massive drug sweep that nabbed 17 students and included four football players?
No matter if you agree with what the NCAA did to Penn State (for the record I do not). Now that the NCAA has weighed in on one criminal matter or moral matter or however you want to frame the Penn State penalties, can the NCAA stop at just Penn State?
Since there was no precedent for what the NCAA has done today, how should the organization proceed with future scandals that do not involve rules being broken? As much as Mark Emmert wants to say he and the NCAA are not opening Pandora’s Box, they already have.
By punishing Penn State today, the NCAA has now can’t just put the genie back in the bottle. We must ask why the NCAA doesn’t punish other schools for lawlessness now that they have done so.
Even if Emmert does not want to admit it, he has opened Pandora’s Box and he can’t close it now.