UnitedHealthcare Health insurance that includes all Western PA hospitals
Wednesday November 25 2015
Leave this field empty.

No Time for Fairness

PSR Logo
It’s interesting that NOW there is outrage in State College about actions that are “unfair to the kids.” The harsh NCAA sanctions against the Penn State football program are indeed unfair to the student-athletes.

They had absolutely nothing to do with Jerry Sandusky’s crimes or the massive, 14-year-long cover-up perpetrated by those in charge of the university. The sanctions are extremely unfair.

But that’s the nature of punishment – it is often unfair; the innocent often get swept up in its’ negative impact.

A father of two commits a crime and is sent to prison – not fair to those left behind, is it? The president of a company fails to pay taxes on hidden income and loses his business – not fair to those who worked an honest job for an honest wage, and are left with no wage and no job. And when the leaders of a public institution commit crimes in order to maintain their competitive football advantage—and those who had nothing to do with it are among the punished—it is not fair at all.

The NCAA—though a flawed institution—is not to blame for the resulting punishment. Louis Freeh is not to blame. The media is not to blame. Penn State’s long-time leadership bears the responsibility.

It is that leadership that failed the student-athletes, the university, the community and most of all, of course, the children they so callously decided not to protect. History is littered with similar examples of individuals whose failures have toppled entire organizations.

In addition, perspective is needed when judging the fairness of these penalties as they relate to the student-athletes. No current athlete will lose a scholarship, nor is NCAA taking away the ability of high school athletes to earn athletic scholarships. Simply, over the next four years, not as many high school football players will be able to use their skills to benefit Penn State's program.

No Penn State football player will lose the privilege—it’s not a right, by the way—to play the game of football. If they choose to remain in Happy Valley, they will still play 12 football games every fall, and they will presumably continue to play in front of 110,000 people. They will continue to get a free education in exchange for their ability to play a sport.

True, many of the games won’t mean as much… but isn’t that the point? College football games are not supposed to mean this much.

Penn State is clearly not the only university where football has meant more than it should—the NCAA shares blame for creating that atmosphere—but they are certainly the most egregious example of putting football above all else.

Moreover, the unnamed university trustee who complained to the media that Penn State’s current leadership “rolled over and played dead” to the NCAA in this case is a bright neon sign blinking a dangerous message from within the university:


Misplaced blame, absence of personal responsibility, complete and utter lack of intestinal fortitude – these are the very reasons the tragedy occurred. “Rolled over and played dead” is precisely what Penn State’s old leadership did for 14 years.

Thankfully, Penn State president Rodney Erickson, athletic director Dave Joyner, head coach Bill O’Brien and the football players themselves have acted like adults. They have accepted the punishment as just, and embraced their collective responsibility. Their words and actions have been promising thus far, and while their work is only beginning and will no doubt get more difficult as the months and years go by, it seems as if the right people are finally in place to steer Penn State through what promises to be a difficult time.

Does that make this a fair ending for Penn State?

Maybe. Maybe not.

But since when has fairness had anything to do with this?

Neil Walker’s contract expires after the 2016 season. The Pirates second baseman is due for a big raise in arbitration this offseason—likely to $10 million—and signing him to a long-term extension will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $12-$15 million annually.
Editor's DeskFeature OneNorth Shore Notes
Belle Vernon junior wrestler Jarod Verkleeren has quietly become one of the most decorated athletes in the state.
Feature TwoHigh School
And then there was one. Fall 2015 marked the first chapter for Armstrong High School. The new school is the merger of Ford City and Kittanning high schools, which were only five miles away from each other.
Feature ThreeHSCOGOS2014
While the recruiting season is usually a time for top schools to scratch and claw for high school seniors, the 2015-16 Pitt Panthers have taken an alternate route.
Feature FourPitt Basketball
Full size video and summary... Misc YouTube Player 1 Steelers TV Channel
Full size video and summary... Misc YouTube Player 2Xfinity HS FootballHigh School TV Channel
Full size video and summary... Misc YouTube Player 3PSR Video PiratesPirates TV Channel
Trust the process. Say it with me. Breathe. It’s all part of the transition. Pitt basketball fans have repeated this mantra a lot over the past year.
Custom 1Pitt Basketball
Twenty-two years. That is the amount of time that elapsed between wins in the NCAA Tournament for Robert Morris University.
Custom 2Robert Morris
It’s the Duquesne Dukes 100th season for basketball this year and the pressure to do well is on the line.
Custom 3Duquesne
The McConnell family name casts a lofty shadow in Pittsburgh basketball circles.
Custom 4Robert MorrisTop Story