Penn State punishment, NCAA a little harsh

Penn State's Nittany Lion (en) mascot
Penn State’s Nittany Lion mascot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The NCAA issued a punishment to Penn State on Monday involving a $60 million fine and a four-year postseason ban. The punishment also includes the loss of multiple scholarships and a removal of all football victories from 1998 to 2011, invalidating the football legacy put in place by Joe Paterno.

“The culture, actions and inactions that allowed them to be victimized will not be tolerated in collegiate athletics,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said, according to an article from the New York Times.

While it’s important to send a strong message to other schools and administrations about the seriousness of this situation, eradicating the victories earned under Paterno punishes those beyond the realm of the scandal. It impacts years of Penn State graduates as well as the future of the university as an academic institution.

As a disclosure, I’ve grown up with Penn State. Because I lived in Pennsylvania for most of my childhood, I was constantly surrounded by the college. My mom along with five of her ten siblings all attended the school and had it not been for out-of-state tuition, I would have been a Nittany Lion too.

As a kid, I remember the football games being an all-day event: tailgating with family friends, watching the Blue Band practice for the halftime show, sandwiching myself between my parents on the bleachers inside a sold-out stadium, fearful that if I even stood to adjust my blanket I would surrender my seat.

Even after coming to CSU, I was still incredibly proud of being part of the Penn State community, even it was merely through association. This scandal however, has made me hesitant in my support to the point where I’m cautions about wearing my Penn State sweatshirt outside of my apartment.
I talked to some of my family members who did attend State College about their own sense of pride in the University.

“You can’t defend it,” my uncle Greg, a PSU alum, told me over the phone. “You don’t want to wear the clothing because you don’t feel like getting involved in it. And then you if you speak out to friends, then you put yourself on the side of a child molester.”

While this association is unwarranted, it’s somewhat of a reality Penn State fans and alumni are forced to consider.

It’s for this reason that I find fault with the NCAA judgement to disqualify the football wins made under Paterno’s coaching. This punishment strips the honor of students and alumni who were uninvolved in Sandusky’s actions, adding salt to a wound already created. It goes beyond the administration responsible and targets the PSU community.

That being said, I do believe it is a community that is resilient and can eventually move forward with time.

As Cael Sanderson, PSU wrestling coach, tweeted Monday, “Penn State is much bigger than the actions of a few. Take medicine. March forward.”