College Football: NCAA should ban Penn State from a bowl

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 24, 2011

By David Moulton
Scripps Howard News
With all the outrage generated by the Penn State scandal, the NCAA feels compelled to do something.
After initially indicating it was ělikelyî not to get involved or further punish the school, the squirrel patrol has bowed to public pressure to officially ěinvestigateî Penn State.
Never mind that this is an ongoing criminal investigation ó one that involves the Pennsylvania governor, attorney general, local district attorney and even the federal government. But, hey, the NCAA is going to show up and play the role of Simon Baker in ěThe Mentalist.î
Realistically, the NCAA is more likely to come across as Batman and Robin, complete with Batmobile.
The Caped Crusaders are going to look into whether the Penn State scandal was caused by a ělack of institutional controlî of the athletic department. This is the worst thing the NCAA can conclude about a school and brings with it the most severe penalties. (Ohio State seems likely to be hit with this charge when the NCAA is done with it.)
The irony, of course, is that if the worst fears in Penn State are realized, that the football program and athletic department enabled and covered up Jerry Sanduskyís alleged sexual abuse to protect the schoolís image, then it is the complete opposite of what they have gone looking for.
Instead of lack of control, this will have been a vice grip of institutional control.
Leave the alleged criminal conduct to the proper authorities. The NCAA doesnít hand out penalties to coaches who get DUIs. It is grandstanding, and out of its league with this case, with the possible exception of one issue.
Should the 2011 Penn State football team be allowed to play in a bowl game?
The NCAA could step in and ban it from doing that. That is within the organizationís authority.
The NCAA could determine that right now Penn Stateís shame is such that every time it steps on the field it hurts college football (and the Big Ten Conference). It could decide that even though these players did no wrong, the school they represent did to such an extent that the season should end as soon as possible.
It would be unfair to the current players, but this story and its fallout is not about them. Many listeners to our radio show want to see the Nittany Lions play in a bowl game (they donít want to punish the current team), but want Penn State to be forced to donate its entire bowl payout (could be millions) to a charity benefiting sexual-abuse victims.
But no matter how much you try to separate it, you canít celebrate Penn State football right now. Bowl games are a reward and a celebration.
When we see the Penn State uniforms today, we see Joe Paterno. When we think of Paterno right now, we think of Sandusky and sexual abuse.
Thatís the cold truth. If the NCAA wants to show some leadership and take ěcontrolî of this story, it should ban the 2011 Penn State team from any bowl games.
The sooner this Penn State football season ends, the better.