Those of us who were appalled by the Jerry Sandusky affair tend to feel that no punishment, from whatever quarter, is sufficient to make amends. But Dave Zirin argues that while what Penn State allowed to happen with Sandusky was terrible, the NCAA should not be the body that exacts monetary punishments for things that lie outside its jurisdiction, and that this represents a dangerous over-reach by a purely private and unaccountable and process-free body into the financial affairs of a public university.
Today marked a stomach-turning, precedent-setting, and lawless turning point in the history of the NCAA. The punishment levied by [NCAA president Mark] Emmert was nothing less than an extra-legal, extra-judicial imposition into the affairs of a publicly funded campus. If allowed to stand, the repercussions will be felt far beyond Happy Valley.
Take a step back from the hysteria and just think about what took place: Penn State committed no violations of any NCAA bylaws. There were no improper payments of “student athletes,” no cheating on tests, no improper phone calls, no using cream cheese instead of butter on a recruit’s bagel, or any of the Byzantine minutiae that fills the timesheets that justify Mark Emmert’s $1.6m salary.
What Penn State did was commit horrific violations of criminal and civil laws, and they should pay every possible price for shielding Sandusky. This is why we have a society with civil and criminal courts. Instead we have Mark Emmert inserting himself in a criminal matter and acting as judge, jury and executioner, in the style of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
The discussion we should be having is how to organize the outrage of the Penn State campus and the people of Pennsylvania to expel the entire board of trustees.
Private, unaccountable actors have no business cutting the budgets of a public campus.
It is a thought-provoking piece.