Last week, the NCAA imposed sweeping penalties on the Penn State football program. The penalties, which were in response to the heinous findings in the now-infamous Freeh Report, will likely cripple the Nittany Lions for years.
The Freeh Report confirmed everyone’s worst nightmares. High-level officials at Penn State, including former president, Graham Spanier, and venerated head football coach, Joe Paterno, showed a “total disregard for the safety and welfare” of the boys molested by former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. The damning nature of the report is summed up by its fundamental conclusion: “the most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized.”
The report touched off much debate about whether the NCAA should, or even could, discipline the program. The NCAA answered that question by issuing an unprecedented sanction that includes lost scholarships, bowl game suspensions, vacated wins, and a whopping $60 million fine. But it stopped short of the ultimate sanction, a suspension of regular season play—also known as “the death penalty.” Given the nature of the abhorrent behavior among Penn State officials at the highest levels, the death penalty is the only appropriate penalty. The NCAA opted not to impose it. So Penn State itself should.