NCAA’s credibility takes a hit yet again

first_imgWhen the NCAA announced that it would be reinstating Penn State University’s postseason eligibility on Monday, the first thing to pop in to my mind as a Trojan was, “Oh, great.” Because, you know, USC didn’t just come out of four years of scholarship sanctions and a two-year postseason ban for not keeping close enough tabs on the housing situation of a certain current Detroit Lions running back.So USC — admittedly, in the interest of football — allegedly looked the other way as a once-in-a-generation talent received improper benefits and got punished for four years. Penn State — admittedly, in the interest of football — protected and covered up the actions of a man who was convicted on 45 counts of sexual abuse. And yet USC served out its sanctions, coaches lost their jobs and the NCAA went to inordinate lengths to keep the documents that would reveal potentially damning internal communications in the Todd McNair case. Penn State, on the other hand, just had its postseason ban and scholarship reduction cut two years short.I’ll be the first to admit that when Penn State was initially sanctioned in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, I recoiled at how harsh and swift the punishment was. I really believed Penn State’s players and fans should not have been crippled by such draconian sanctions so deeply into the future for something that had happened in the past. I came to realize that the sanctions would be justified insofar as they brought a sense of closure to Sandusky’s victims, and with the gradual understanding that the football program was partially responsible for fostering Sandusky’s terrifying, almost systematic sexual abuse of minors.Today, the NCAA announced that it disagreed with the rationale I so carefully adopted. Instead of trying to recover whatever shred of credibility they had left, the NCAA just threw its considerable weight and did what was in the best interest of revenues and Penn State’s sizable fan base.The NCAA didn’t establish a sound policy of punishment when doling out sanctions. There’s no need to deter sexual abuse in college football coaching ranks: it’s (hopefully) universally recognized that sexually abusing minors is terribly wrong. There’s no need to rehabilitate any of the existing coaching staff beyond what has already been done. Actually, the NCAA’s theory of punishment is quite simple: it’s whatever the hell the NCAA wants it to be. According to the NCAA, the whole point of sanctioning the football program was because Penn State put football before basic human decency — so it’s only fitting that the NCAA then subsequently un-punish the football team, right?The only thing this latest move from the NCAA proves is that President Mark Emmert cares only about flouting his power at a time when the NCAA is scraping for relevance. It’s one of the governing body’s worst PR moves in recent memory — and believe me, for the NCAA, that’s really saying something.It was hard to justify putting Penn State in the doghouse, but it’s even harder to justify the reversal. Did Emmert just pat Penn State’s football program on the head, say “good dog” and call it a day? If so, it just shows us that the NCAA has its own agenda, one that no person with strategic communications acumen (or, you know, common sense) could possibly endorse.My friend’s brother-in-law is a die-hard Penn State fan who was absolutely crushed when he heard about the Jerry Sandusky scandal and the sanctions that followed. When I’d see him at family gatherings, I’d commiserate with him about the NCAA sanctions, saying that as a USC fan I knew how he felt. I’d tell him that everything was going to be OK, that USC had found a way to fight through sanctions and come out on top and that Penn State would eventually recover. I was right; Penn State has one of the best recruiting classes in the nation according to Rivals.com, and the rescinding of the postseason ban and scholarship reduction comes as a boost to a program that really didn’t need one.This leaves only the literal dozens of sexual abuse victims in Sandusky’s wake, slapped in the face by a governing body’s sickening greed and thirst for power. What will happen now? An asterisk will be forever appended to former Penn State head coach Joe Paterno’s record. A perennially powerful football program will, once again, rise to prominence. And the theory of punishment held by the NCAA will remain as amorphous and questionable as ever.As for what this means for the NCAA, it’s another chink in the armor of the organization’s shaky logic of college athletics governance. Asinine decisions such as the rescinding of the Penn State sanctions will eventually give way to the NCAA’s collapse as a legitimate governing body. Slowly but surely, this is the way the NCAA ends: not with a bang, but with little whimpers. Euno Lee is a senior majoring in English literature. He is also the editor-in-chief of the Daily Trojan. His column, “Euno What Time It Is,” runs Tuesdays. UPDATE, Sep. 12, 2014, 5:20 p.m.: A previous version of this column stated that Reggie Bush allegedly received improper benefits from the university. Though such allegations were made and the statement written is technically true, the article was amended to reflect the more precise allegation which led to the sanctions themselves. The Daily Trojan regrets any confusion.last_img

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