The Freeh report places blame for the Penn State child sex abuse scandal squarely on the four most powerful men at the university, and observers are baying for blood from the football program? Is this how the university should be punished?
Last week’s report by former FBI Director Louis Freeh points the finger of culpability squarely at the four most powerful people at Penn State for actively covering up child sex abuse allegations against former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.
The scandal Sandusky and his enablers, Joe Paterno, ex-president Graham Spanier, athletic director Tim Curley and former senior vice president Gary Schultz, brought on the school is the biggest and most damaging in college sports history. And observers are baying for blood.
But how shall it be shed?
In an op-ed for the Daily Beast, sports columnist Buzz Bissinger calls for a five-year ban on Penn State football — and the removal of Joe Paterno’s statue at Beaver Stadium.
If Southern Methodist University got the so-called death penalty from the NCAA for a widespread scheme of paying off recruits, banned from football for a year and only allowed to return in a severely reduced capacity, then Penn State should get a minimum five-year ban. Draconian? Yes. Brutal? Yes. But punishment is brutal and supposed to act as a deterrent to other schools who have not been involved in something as heinous as what Penn State officials did.
One of Bissinger’s main arguments is that, while college football serves no academic purpose, it can still destroy a school’s reputation. Can Penn State football be separated from Penn State? What about the students and the multitudes who had nothing to do with the scandal?
What is the best way to punish those responsible for the sexual abuse of Sandusky’s victims and, to the extent possible, the school and the culture that supported them, without hurting enrolled and prospective students?