Excerpts from national columns about the Penn State penalties:
We Were … Penn State.
In the 3 minutes and 14 seconds it took NCAA president Mark Emmert to announce the details of the NCAA’s surgical and devastating sanctions Monday morning, the Penn State that Joe Paterno once ruled for decades ceased to exist. It was removed as if it were a years-old wart, too unsightly to endure anymore.
The NCAA, with Penn State’s grim blessings, didn’t impose the so-called death penalty. It went much further than that. It ordered the university and the people who run it to transform its soul.
The sanctions are beyond crippling. From a pure punitive standpoint, Penn State could have recovered earlier and easier had the football program been shuttered for a season, or even two.
But that wasn’t the point, was it? The NCAA wanted the football program to suffer – and it will for a long, long time – but more important, it wanted it to undergo a permanent transformation. Otherwise, none of this matters.
The penalties were designed to force Penn State – at least the way it was operated by Paterno, the board of trustees, former president Graham Spanier and athletic director Tim Curley – to change its identity. Hero worship is out. Accountability and transparency are in.
Gene Wojciechowski, ESPN.com
Unprecedented atrocities demand unprecedented action, and that’s exactly what the NCAA did Monday.
Emmert’s actions were stunning and appropriately devastating for Penn State football. And his words resonated far beyond the Happy Valley campus to a much broader audience. It was as if he were speaking to every university president, conference commissioner, bowl official, football coach, booster and football fan in America when, time and again, he spoke of the Penn State scandal as a “gut check,” asking, “Do we have the right balance in our culture?”
We all know the answer for years has been a resounding no. But, perhaps, what Emmert’s NCAA did today will begin to force everyone in college football to reassess just how out of control big-time football has become on the nation’s campuses. The magnitude and depth of the NCAA’s action against Penn State must have turned the heads of even those in the most insulated and untouchable of college football programs.
Penn State’s anemic leaders clearly cannot be trusted to make any of the correct or tough decisions against their football program, so Emmert did it for them, basically ensuring that Penn State football will be a shell of its former self for at least the next 10 years.
Christine Brennan, USA Today
Penn State football Monday was tackled hard by the NCAA.
Expect a hue & cry out of “Happy Valley” along the lines of it isn’t fair to punish young athletes and new coaches who had no role in the Sandusky scandal and cover-up.
Expect more from the Paterno family over removal Sunday of the iconic statue outside Beaver Stadium and the NCAA order Monday to vacate many of Paterno’s football victories.
But the punishment meted out Monday morning was earned by the university over more than a decade of wrongdoing caused by what NCAA President Mark Emmert called an “athletic culture that went horribly awry.”
John Baer, Philadelphia Daily News
While Penn State may be the most extreme and horrific scandal we’ve seen in terms of its human tragedy and consequences, let’s not be naïve. Athletics regularly trump academics at campuses across the country, and NCAA rules are regularly violated because of them. Never before has the NCAA’s image-conscious president felt the need to personally intervene. But of course, none of those other scandals made NBC Nightly News for a week.
And so, Emmert made sure his organization responded accordingly – even if that meant revoking the traditional due process afforded every other school that’s ever been punished by the NCAA; invoking a nebulous, generalized bylaw about promoting integrity that could easily apply to hundreds of lawbreaking players, coaches and staffers across the country every year; and creating a precedent for dictatorial-like intervention that must now be considered every time a scandal of any proportion arises in college athletics.
Stewart Mandel, SI.com
As penalties go for Penn State, death would’ve been preferable.
The NCAA hammered the Nittany Lions football program Monday for its role in concealing Jerry Sandusky’s sexual molestation acts, leveling coach Joe Paterno’s once revered team with stiff penalties and unprecedented fines that will hurt in ways that suspending play for a season or two might not have. …
As painful as a silent season in State College would’ve been, O’Brien, the freshly hired 45-year-old, could have spent the fall recruiting and pointing to the future.
Instead he deals with mountainous hurdles in an attempt to win. Emmert was clear he wanted a culture change at Penn State and nothing changes the culture like 5-7 seasons. Football stops being so important.
Penn State and its fans always said the program was about more than winning. The next decade will offer them a chance to prove it.
Dan Wetzel, Yahoo.com
The NCAA and Mark Emmert significantly punished Penn State and demonstrated a measure of courage and integrity I did not think the NCAA possessed. I’m stunned. I’m shocked. I’m a teeny bit optimistic. I now have a glimmer of hope that the men and women running the NCAA and the school presidents in partnership with the NCAA are capable of being shaken from the lie of shamateurism.
Given the scope and severity of the penalties leveled against Penn State, Emmert realized the credibility and viability of the NCAA rested on how he handled the fallout of the Freeh Report.
Jason Whitlock, Foxsports.com
If this is the new, muscular NCAA, let me be the first to say I like it. And I hope this won’t be the last time we see the organization many – including me – had all but given up on for having barely a bark and a nearly toothless bite flex its collective biceps and deliver a knockout blow.
Tracee Hamilton, Washington Post