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Wednesday July 30 2014
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Unnecessary

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As a society, we fear doing too little when we should do more. NCAA President Mark Emmert has just become the walking, talking example of that statement.

In wake of the horrific findings of one of the most heinous crimes in the history of college athletics, not to mention our country, the third-year president of the NCAA decided Monday to lay down one vicious punishment on the Penn State football program, ground zero of the Jerry Sandusky molestation acts; and the lying, covering up and cleansing that those involved with the program, including Joe Paterno, did to keep football alive and breathing for years later.


The university was hit with a $60 million dollar fine, and all victories under the football program have been stripped, dating back to 1998.


The $60 million dollar fine and the vacated wins under Paterno’s belt should have been more than enough.


But then the unnecessary, silly and absurd punishments followed.


A four-year postseason bowl ban, a conference championship ban and a significant loss of scholarshiped joins the list.


Emmert, a man who should be the No. 1 advocator for the student-athlete, laid down a hammer on student-athletes who did nothing other than take the field in blue and white to represent their university.


Not only are the next four years ruined, tarnished and tainted for the football players who decide to stay with the program, but even worse is the decision these young men are faced with: “Do I stay with Penn State athletics and get my education there, or do I leave?”


Joe Paterno was a coward and a traitor to the safety of youth. Gary Schultz, Graham Spainer and Tim Curley should all be tainted names that live in infamy. They should be forever known to any community as liars, thugs and pure criminals that did everything they could to keep child molestation under wraps to save a football program.


We all know this. They all know this. The contractors that tore down Joe Paterno’s statue know this. And most importantly, Mark Emmert knows this.


So, with the punishment on everybody involved either processed or in action, including the epicenter of the entire black cloud—Jerry Sandusky—behind bars for the rest of his pathetic, miserable life, why is there still an urge to punish even more?


Why is first year coach Bill O’ Brien not allowed to experience the postseason until the next, next presidential election? Why does the upcoming class of freshmen have to face the fact that if they stay with the school that they committed to, they will never get to play for anything meaningful for their entire college career?


For most student football players, college is not a stepping-stone to the professional level. For most, it’s the experience of playing every Saturday, fighting for every win, knowing that just one loss could result in losing a chance to play for the conference championship. Now, for the kids left at the Penn State football program, a perfect 12-0 record still locks them away from playing for a conference title, a bowl game title, or even a national title. 


Instead, they get nothing. Because they chose a program, where lies and deceit—which they knew nothing about—were buried deep underneath the grounds of State College while most of them were too young to even comprehend. They will never get to play a meaningful game again at Beaver Stadium.


The entire outcome of this tragedy was supposed to teach our society to protect the kids, do what is best for the kids and always, no matter what, look after the kids, even if that means breaking up something as big as Penn State football. 


Yet Mark Emmert failed to think about the kids that are currently involved, and instead shelled out even more unnecessary punishment to the innocent.


Was it because of money? Maybe the critics that want to see even more punishment to the university are the same critics that will pump all the money necessary to help keep a playoff system afloat. Was it because of bad publicity alone?


All-in-all, the judicial system did its job in punishing the monsters responsible for the heinous acts that took place at Penn State. Emmert did the job of over-reacting and making the matter even worse.  


What a silly way to make a statement. But it’s not the first, and certainly not the last, mistake the NCAA, one of the more inconsistent, unfair and unbalanced associations in all of sport, will make.

I was in a minor league press box in Charlotte, NC, last month, taking in one of Gregory Polanco’s final triple-A games. A colleague, upon learning I was from Pittsburgh, approached me with a question.
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