LJS’s Sipple: “I fully understand the apparently egregious errors in judgment…” You Lost Us with the Word “Apparently.” How Much More “Proof” Do You Need? NU Still Doesn’t Get It.

July 22, 2012


Steven M. Sipple: Removing Penn State from Big Ten isn’t the answer

Posted: Saturday, July 21, 2012 11:40 pm [Actually, it is the ONLY answer, Mr. Sipple. Football Must Learn that Criminal Actions have Draconian Consequences. This sentence was written by Ivy Harper, Founder of Land Grant University Reform.]

The Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal will not go away for Penn State and former head coach Joe Paterno’s legacy. (AP file)

  • Joe Paterno
  • Steven M. Sipple

The despicable Penn State scandal continues to create headlines, debate, confusion, sadness, anger.

The story isn’t going away anytime soon.

Not with multiple investigations ongoing. Not with criminal and civil trials looming. Not with so many unresolved issues (What to do with Joe Paterno’s statue?).

Not with Big Ten football media days set for Thursday and Friday in Chicago. Hundreds of reporters will seek answers and try to create greater understanding. Commissioner Jim Delany will earn his pay, rest assured.

Expect Delany to be grilled about potential Big Ten punishment for the Nittany Lions — one of many issues to consider.

I want to get a few things off my chest before heading to Chicago:

* In our email exchange Friday night, Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman made it clear that Big Ten presidents and chancellors are NOT debating the possibility of removing Penn State from the conference.

Perlman serves on the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors, the league’s governing board.

So, PSU stays, until further notice. I think that’s the right decision.

I fully understand the apparently egregious errors in judgment by top Penn State officials, including Paterno. No amount of words can express the sadness and sympathy we feel for victims in the child sex-abuse scandal.

That said, Penn State has been a full-blown member — and enduring asset — of the Big Ten since 1993. Should the conference simply turn its back on a member institution? In some ways, it would be like a family turning its back on a wayward member. The act of suddenly booting PSU strikes me as the easy way out for an esteemed league that prides itself on doing things the right way — which often isn’t the easy way.

Perhaps it makes more sense for Big Ten leaders to find avenues to help Penn State navigate through an excruciatingly difficult and complex period. The conference should be able to assist PSU while also holding it accountable, all the while taking steps to avoid another massive breakdown at the top of a university’s leadership chain.

Big Ten officials remain in the early stages of debating how to handle fallout from the Penn State scandal. The presidents and chancellors ultimately could consider removing PSU from the league, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported last week, quoting an anonymous source.

If Perlman was the source, he evidently was misunderstood. He said a reporter from The Chronicle asked him, “What could a conference do?”

“I was explicit that in the abstract, and not referring to the current situation, I suppose a conference could do anything from expel a member to putting (it) on probation, fine, or censure or anything in between,” Perlman told me via email. “If my comment was the source, it was an abstract analysis of what a conference would have the authority to do as opposed to the NCAA.”

The Big Ten (and maybe the NCAA) can find ways to punish Penn State in a significant manner. Suspension? Probation? A financial penalty? Perhaps. But expulsion isn’t the right answer.

Expulsion might satisfy those seeking vengeance. But the goal is justice.

* Many folks are calling for the NCAA to give Penn State’s football program the death penalty. NCAA president Mark Emmert hasn’t ruled it out.

Pardon me, but when did the NCAA (cartel) become our beacon of moral authority?

Yes, there’s the issue of Penn State’s obvious lack of institutional control. But the Penn State scandal is different than SMU for at least two crucial reasons: 1. Criminal and civil courts ultimately will exact an extremely heavy toll on PSU; 2. The Nittany Lions gained no competitive advantage.

Perhaps the best solution for punishment I’ve heard is a television ban by the NCAA, with the Big Ten withholding TV revenue.

* Excellent point by Dave Zirin of The Nation: “Spare me the self-righteous rage of sportswriters who spent decades burnishing the Paterno legend and now rush to tear it all down.” So true.

* As for Paterno’s statue, let it stand, albeit somewhere other than outside Beaver Stadium. Let it stand to represent Paterno’s years of virtuous work at the school. And let it stand to remind us of his fatal misjudgment in regard to Jerry Sandusky, so such a colossal mistake is never repeated.

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