Priorities in order?

If things must change at Penn State, they should elsewhere, too

We heard Mark Emmert loud and clear last Monday when he and his fellow NCAA brass offered their brass-knuckles answer to the Penn State football crisis.

The strikes – five years probation, four years without a bowl, reduced scholarships, $60 million fine, 13 years of wins taken away from Joe Paterno – reflected the outrage everyone felt about Jerry Sandusky’s heinous acts and the Penn State power structure that looked the other way.

From what we’re told, the school had to accept those penalties, or face a four-year “death penalty”, as in no football, which would have amounted to four times the verdict handed down on SMU a quarter-century ago for its crimes and misdemeanors.

This allowed for yet another round of loud condemnations toward all those responsible. We heard it in November when the lurid details of the Sandusky crimes first emerged. We heard them again when former FBI director Louis Freeh’s report blistered Penn State’s leadership.

Over and over, the chorus was the same. Think of those victims, the lifelong scars they will carry with them, and most of all never, ever let football get too important again.

Essentially, Emmert repeated those thoughts when handing down the punishments. On the surface, those strong words carried a lot of resonance, because, after all, aren’t colleges and universities supposed to be about education first?

If only the hypocrisy didn’t bleed through.

To start with, if winning football games is not supposed to be as important as education and protecting the lives of the innocent, how come all of the penalties had to do with…..football? Especially the surrender of 14 years worth of victories, even though none of the players from 1998 to 2011 was ever ruled ineligible.

It sure seems like the primary goal was to make darn sure Penn State didn’t win in the future. Never mind if the school absorbed the painful lessons and tried to make something good out of it, in their community and beyond. That, to the NCAA, wasn’t as important.

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