Death penalty would be too harsh to Penn State


There is no longer a question at Penn State of who knew what and when they knew it regarding the Jerry Sandusky scandal. The Freeh report made it clear that enough people knew and decided to cover it up.

The question now, besides whether a statue should be torn down or not, is what the NCAA is going to do to Penn State.

Most of the outcry from the public and from columnist is to give Penn State the death penalty, and it could be the direction the NCAA chooses to make.

The situation at Penn State is a lot worse than what happened at SMU, which is the only time the NCAA has decided to hand out the death penalty. There have been varying reports that if the NCAA could do it over again, they would choose not to give SMU that harsh of a penalty.

SMU was handed the penalty after boosters paid players for a number of years and gave them benefits during their time at the University. The NCAA handed down penalties beforehand, but SMU still turned a blind eye with what was going on before the NCAA ultimately handed down the death penalty.

SMU could not play football in 1988 and the program still has not recovered. SMU is lucky to make a lesser bowl game after being national title contenders throughout the 1980s.

This could be the same fate of Penn State. If the NCAA gives Penn State the death penalty, it is very possible that football at the University will never return to the form necessary to compete in the Big Ten.

However, SMU is not the case-study of what to do to Penn State. While Penn State’s scandal was far worse than SMU’s, was it worse than what happened at Baylor in 2003?

The scandal with the men’s basketball program at Baylor hit the news when one of the players, Patrick Dennehy, was murdered by his teammate, Carlton Dotson.

Later it came out that Dave Bliss, Baylor’s coach at the time, paid Dennehy’s tuition along with Corey Herring’s. Bliss then portrayed Dennehy as a drug dealer to explain how Dennehy paid his tuition.

More violations followed and the NCAA barred Baylor from playing any nonconference games for the 2005-06 season, which was the first time that penalty had been imposed.

Baylor did not have another winning season until 2008 and the penalties are considered the second-harshest in history.

Baylor’s transgressions led a murder, which I cannot compare if it is as worse than what Sandusky did. I am still surprised that program did not receive the death penalty.

But maybe that is what could be done to Penn State. It is not just the football team and players, who had no knowledge of what happened, would suffer. Many businesses that thrive because of the many people who come in to watch the football team would suffer not just for one year, but probably forever since the football team would probably not return to a competitive level.

That is the reason Penn State should not receive the death penalty. The people involved in the scandal have already been punished, including a jail sentence to Sandusky and the death of Paterno.

The players and businesses should not be asked to suffer for something they had no part on. While those who were abused by Sandusky may never be the same, it would be harsh to have this scandal import more unnecessary lives than it already has.