Penn State Punishment

Yesterday, the Freeh Report was released on the actions of Penn State University related to the child sexual abuse committed by former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.  The independent report’s findings (starting on page 14) offer a sickening view of the apathy, ignorance, and blatant disregard for the safety and welfare of children.  The main priority of “four of the most powerful people at The Pennsylvania State University” (President Graham Spanier, SVP Gary Schultz, AD Timothy Curley, and Head Coach Joe Paterno) was protecting the reputation of PSU, the football program, and/or their own skin.

Absolutely sickening.  All of it.

In the 17 pages of recommendations for campus leadership, the Board of Trustees, the Athletic Department and others (starting on page 117), nothing is mentioned about penalties for the football program.

Not to worry, as pundits and columnists everywhere are lining up to dish out an “appropriate” punishment to Penn State’s legendary football program.  I would not be surprised to see an investigation from the NCAA and/or the Big Ten Conference which leads to sanctions of some kind.

Proposed punishments include loss of athletic scholarships, bans on TV appearances and bowl games, a complete “death penalty” – shuttering the program for a year or more, to being kicked out of the prestigious Big Ten Conference entirely.

And I think all of these suggestions are wrong.

Don’t get me wrong – I sincerely believe that Penn State should be punished.  Call it what you want – cover-up, conspiracy, abuse of power, absence of a conscience – very bad things were allowed to happen to innocent children because people who knew better did nothing.  I’m no lawyer, but with the release of the Freeh report, the university is going to have to pay out tens of millions of dollars in settlements to Sandusky’s victims, which PSU should.  But that still does not appropriately punish the school for their enabling and protecting a monster to prey on children.

But here’s the thing – the punishments listed above miss their target in two ways:  1) they punish the wrong people, and 2) little is done to aid and benefit victims, bring awareness, and prevent future Sanduskys from leaving such a wide wake of destruction.  Look – I know that since actions of Paterno and PSU senior leadership were done – in full or in part – to protect the prestige and reputation of Penn State Football, the football program should pay a price.  But I think there is a better way to punish PSU than to deny scholarships to student-athletes, hurt the revenue of the schools PSU would play in televised games, or kill all intercollegiate athletics at PSU (which is essentially what a death penalty would do).  No Penn State student has been implicated in the cover up, so punishing the student-athletes is unfair.  There is a better way.

Here is my plan:

1.  Penn State can have all of their football games broadcast on which ever network (ABC/ESPN, BTN, etc) chooses to air the game.  However, for a set period of time (I’m proposing four years) 100% of Penn State’s television and bowl revenue is donated to charities and funds that work to protect children, heal victims, and prevent sexual predators like Sandusky from harming a child*.  This way Penn State’s opponent still receives their full share of TV revenue, it gives the announcers a platform to discuss Penn State’s punishment, and provides a wealth of funds (Big Ten schools get around $20 million a year in TV revenue from all sports).

*I am proposing this as a separate revenue source from the one PSU will use to pay settlements to those victimized by Sandusky.  The Freeh Report all but guarantees very big paydays for Sandusky’s victims, and Penn State should find that money in-house, and not on the backs of their student-athletes.

Yes, this is a significant loss of revenue, and since football feeds the rest of the athletic department, it will very likely have a negative impact on the Olympic and non-revenue producing sports that Penn State offers.  But there is no way around it.

2.  Penn State has an iconic football look:  the dark blue jerseys, the plain white helmet with the single blue stripe down the middle.  That helmet is timeless, classic, and the ideal spot for one of these:

Prevent Child Abuse ribbon

Penn State’s new helmet logo

I propose placing a blue Prevent Child Abuse awareness ribbon each side of Penn State’s football helmet.  Permanently.

I can understand that some would find it hypocritical that Penn State would use the blue child abuse awareness ribbon on their helmets after doing nothing to prevent child abuse for well over a decade.  But the days of Paterno and senior leadership covering for the football program and the university are over.

Like it or not, Penn State football will forever be associated with child abuse.  PSU can either hide from their stained legacy, sweep it under the rug, and pretend it never happened (much like Paterno and company did)…or…Penn State can be a leader, on the field and in the classroom, and make child abuse prevention their mission.  Embracing that mission is one of the precious few ways that Penn State can begin to atone for what was allowed to occur, and have any chance of turning an extremely negative time into a positive outcome.  And having a graphical icon of that mission – in the form of the awareness ribbon – on Penn State’s football helmets will remind students, alumni, staff, fans, and the nation of responsibility we all bear to report any suspected abuse to authorities until action is taken.

PSU Helmet w Ribbon

Don’t Let Penn State Forget

The faith of the students, alumni, and general public in all things Penn State (the university, its senior leadership, and its athletic teams and coaches) has been rightfully erased.  It will take years and years for Penn State to regain it.  The best way to regain that trust is to acknowledge and own past failures and make giant steps to provide retribution for those who are impacted – directly and indirectly.  I feel my plan does this.

Penn State, the ball is in your court.


Every football payer should have the opportu ity to transfer without penalty. Football should go away for ten years at least.

Maybe we should sit down amd discuss what sports and an academic university stands for and behaves like. How an we lie cowardly to serve our selfish reasons and carry on like this. Wait till that football team enters another stadium and that statue what a disgrace.

I here no concern of help for the young innocent at risk children. That does not win any games though. Maybe that was the problem.

I runa support blog for childhood PTSD. Do you have any idea what this pedophile and these people gave him immunity to rape twelve year old boys and you want to play football.

The press that is coming and the punishment by the country. What star athlete wants the worst scandal by a million over any other athletic scandal ever. Ever.

    No, I cannot begin to imagine the horrors faced by the victims, and I commend you for your support work.

    If this plan were enacted – meaning Penn State keeps on playing, but ALL television revenue is given to charities and funds that work to protect children, heal victims, and prevent sexual predators – that would generate huge sums of money – conservatively, I’d say $10 million a year for however long the punishment is in place.

    Obviously money cannot replace what was taken from these children, but I’m guessing that the fine work that you and others do could be greatly enhanced with the addition of more funds.

      The football frenzy and the need to make these innocent players to face what Paterno has wrought is not fair.

      What is they lose early and this will implode everything. You can say all you want but who would want to send their child where pedophiles rule Tje athletic department with immunity.

      Football is a small golf ball to the rape of one boy not 13 years of cover up by how many.

      Please tell me Paterno’s kid did not know. The flicking janitors knew. He was raping young boys in public. What crime do you think is worse against help kids. Please.

      Your program will feel the punishment if you are crazy enough to do rah rah. We are yeh the pedophilia Capitol of sports forever.

      Paterno and tanattlefield statue stand for something that is the most shameful vile thing doen using the coaching profession.

      So you collect all the money you want but you can. Ot shovel this away.

      This is worse than than any athletic what kids get free cars seems like stealing candy. Recruiting violation is what being caught with a joint.

      Why don’t you go amd follow one of these kids. The one who had to change schools because he came forward. He got death threat and had to move again. He was at risk before being raped by a powerful coach

      Are you,kidding me man. You fool yourself this is trivial. Paterno will be reviled and things will never happen like this again. Like Chernobyl and 9/11 or buddy or John Wayne Gary.

      You trivialize this monster and the cowards who protected him..

      Watch your karma football is not worth this trip to hell.

      Marty – I apparently was not clear before – but I am not a Penn State alumnus or fan. My motivation for this was to see if something positive could be generated from something negative.

        Sorry man I see the turmoil they face.

        Tje good is for someone to take down any statue and explore what happened. See how the power of a football program could infiltrate the whole community and now want to move on.

        That caused this mess. No one has done anything and money is not doing something.

        These young boys have names and stories and terror they endured. We can defend but we avoid to protect.

        Now let us ask this?

        The current football players should be able to transfer without punishment because they are innocent. This is terrible beyond belief what misery and how much follows this monster.

        Oh my. Mi can not remember an athletic story even close for the period of time and what coch has ever been a serial pedophile is the history of football.

        This is something different so much bigger than football. Sports fans do not realize the significance and damge done here. Research into complex childhood PTSD and see the physical diseases that kill you decades earlier. It is a fact

        Research and see the harm done then come back and tell me how you feel.

        That is fair

        Experience their life for a day and maybe you will see some real good.

        The football program is an ant now

Oh – and to your final point: Penn State currently has verbal commitments from a number of top prospects (their 2013 recruiting class is currently ranked #15).

I have no idea how that is happening.

Your a fool dude watch your karma

I,played pro sports for seven years. Your a fucking fool

I want to apologize, I was out of line and so into the damage that I judged you and lost it.

My apologies and it is a situation that I have never seen in sports. The men I played with would never let this happen.

So I hope we can start over.


I don’t know if signing away all their TV money is the answer, although Penn State does need to pay something for the victims of child abuse. Likely, starting such a fund will be a part of their settlement with Sandusky’s victims. Generally, I agree that suspending PSU football doesn’t change anything and would hurt more than it helped.

What’s up dude. I finally made it over here to read your post. i think this is too delicate an issue for me to even comment on. I definitely commend you for having the courage to address it. Pretty interesting comment thread exhange!

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

[…] State in the wake of sexual abuse scandal and cover-up.  While the penalties were more severe than what I called for originally, I think the NCAA did a surprisingly good and thorough job in making sure the penalties […]

Remember to Never Forget « Feit Can WriteNovember 12, 2012 at 10:36 pm

[…] but I think they could have (and should have) done more.  My suggestion back in July was to put a big version of that blue ribbon the side of the Penn State helmet.  Frankly, I think they should do this at least once a […]

[…] spin on things.  For examples of what I mean, I’ll refer you to my posts on Google Goggles, the Penn State scandal, and the alternate uniforms worn by the Nebraska football […]

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