Mark Emmert has a problem. Actually that’s putting it mildly. A problem is what is the answer to 2+2 or which tie do I wear to a press conference?
Emmert is faced with a disaster of epic proportions as well as a PR nightmare regardless of what he chooses because the biggest scandal in college football history has just landed on his desk. Actually it had been on his desk he had been busy trying as hard as he could to let another entity (local law enforcement) deal with it. Regardless, try as he might to avoid it for this long but everyone knew eventually he was going to have to weigh in on the Penn State catastrophe orchestrated by sexual deviant Jerry Sandusky and cohorts at the university.
See for those of you who don’t know, Mark Emmert is the president of the NCAA, one of the weakest, most dysfunctional, bi-polar outfits in the country. He’s the leader of a consortium that rarely sees eye to eye with the fans and puts dollars first while claiming everything they do is for the good of the student athlete—from standing firm against a real playoff, to denying athletes the opportunity to increase their personal revenue by paying them higher stipends, to not allowing them to transfer when their coaches violates their universities’ trust. So if we want to say the office of the NCAA president is in it for the greater good, I’m truly sorry to tell you this but that ship sailed long ago in the dead of night and only daydreamers and fools occupied the decks as it headed for the iceberg.
But for all the failings the president has had, and all of the decisions he and others that came before have tried to avoid or showed absolute prejudice in favor of the “money-maker “ institutions, this whole fiasco with Penn State can give him the opportunity to make people not look at the NCAA as the joke it has become. But I have a feeling Emmert won’t make the obvious choice and will attempt to pass the buck as he has done in the past.
For nearly eight months former FBI Director Louis Freeh and his team pored over countless documents, interviewed hundreds of individuals and read numerous emails pertaining to the child molestation charges. Freeh linked every person who claimed to not have known anything, from Joe Paterno to University President Graham Spanier and many individuals in between in some way to covering up various aspects of the sordid Sandusky affair. Freeh’s report read like a graphic horror novella and for many of us, it was more than we wanted to believe. Paterno, who once stated he could never retire leaving football to the likes of Barry Switzer and Jackie Sherrill ended up being worse than two of college football’s most notorious repeat offenders. Actually, worse is an understatement.
And as Freeh read the report, word for word, line by line, the luster that once engulfed the legacy of Jo-Pa slowly faded until it was nothing more than a fuzzy haze barely visible to even the staunchest of defenders. He explained how Paterno knew about the investigation into Sandusky’s disgusting behavior as early as 1998-99 just before Sandusky was allowed to retire and keep an office just feet away from Paterno. We found out that Paterno had shared emails with higher ups regarding Sandusky and how they all decided to make sure he was treated humanely despite the fact the man was raping children on the campus of the school. That statement alone should have Emmert not wondering if he should employ the Death Penalty, rather it should have him deciding how soon and how long it should be. Some have chimed in regarding what punishments should be levied against the school, the most recent being Alabama’s Nick Saban. Saban stated he thought that if the school were to maintain a program this season, they should levy a tax on top of the regular ticket price. That tax, he suggested, would go to the victims to help them heal and help them financially, but it seems more like it is penalizing the ticketholders while the actual perpetrators are so far, getting off scot free.
If there was ever a reason to completely destroy a school program this is it. There are no mitigating circumstances that can be produced and there is no reason to invoke the student athlete as an excuse to keep football alive this year.
So here is my quick and unflinching solution to the imbroglio:
We all know the students had nothing to do with it but the people that were in charge did. The students are smart enough to understand that they are not being punished and should be reassured of that by being allowed to transfer immediately and be able to play this year.
Scholarships should go next—all of them. They could be reinstated by 25 percent every year so that by 2016 they should be back at 100 percent. It may seem drastic but hell it’s nothing compared to being penetrated in a shower by someone you trust and being betrayed by people you would hope had your (the victim) best interest in mind. They did not. All they apparently cared about was the money coming into the program and the wins they would tally as the university looked to make Paterno the winningest coach in FBS History.
I would love to say that I think the school gets it by removing Paterno’s name off the child development center but it wasn’t their decision. It was self proclaimed idolizer and CEO of Nike Phil Knight who made the painful but correct decision to change the name in order to begin the healing. It’s too bad the university cannot do the same thing and remove the statue next to Beaver Stadium.
This would set a precedent like no other in the history of the NCAA. I doubt there will ever be anything like this happening again but what this does is set a precedent for even the most mundane of cheaters. It puts real power back into the hands of the president’s office and places real fear in the larger programs across the country that have basically been acting with impunity since the destruction of Southern Methodist University in the late ‘80s. Their infractions pale in comparison to the scandal at Penn.
This is lack of intuitional control at the highest level and to the very definition. There is no alternative other than to dissolve the program immediately in order to start healing. The victims and their families deserve that much.
I hope Emmert has the stones to do what’s right, otherwise he’s putting these victims through the same hell all over again.