The End of Penn State Football

Patrick,

No. Despite the morally bankrupt conduct of the university's most powerful officials for nearly 13 years—conduct that caused me to belt out some very angry writing for this site yesterday—Penn State should not shutter its football program, nor should they be forced to. Doing so would only punish a huge swath of people that had nothing to do with letting Sandusky be a predator for so many years.

The men directly responsible for Sandusky's reign of terror—JoePa, former president Graham Spanier, former vice president Gary Schultz, and former AD Tim Curley—are all going down. Paterno's dead, Curley and Schultz are facing criminal charges for their actions, and charges against Spanier are likely to follow. Shutting down Penn State football will not hurt these men in any way—jail and the inevitable passage of time should take care of that.

But what about the larger-than-life Penn State football culture that allowed this to happen? Well, we could argue all day about the implicit culpability of Nittany Lion diehards who have defended Paterno ad nauseum and continued to buy football program merchandise even as the scandal was publicized. But it is unfair to say that even the most diehard booster would have done what Paterno & Co. did—we just don't know, because we can't know. And it's certainly unfair to say that current Penn State players, equipment managers, or recruits—young people who depend on the program in innumerable ways—are at all to blame. But they are the ones a PSU football death penalty would hurt, not Paterno in the cold, cold ground of his grave or Sandusky in prison.

The "big-time college sports-industrial complex" that you mentioned must indeed be changed, Patrick. But scapegoating a program that's already removed its rotten center is not going to fix anything. All it will do is punish young people who had as much to do with the rotten Sandusky business as you or I.

Am I wrong, Hampton?

–Jake

Presented by

Sports Roundtable

Patrick Hruby, Jake Simpson, and Hampton Stevens 

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