My Father-in-Law, who is an encyclopedia of football knowledge, correctly pointed out that Penn State Football should have gotten the Death Penalty in college sports. He asked: "What is worse than institutional protection of known pedophiles?" I could't think of anything.
Guess what? There's over 100 Division I programs to chose from in college football and if Penn State Football was gone for a year or two, so be it. Athletics is a privilege, not a right. But in America privileges and rights are irrelevant, College Sports are Big Business.
Why am I bringing this up today? Last week #9 Penn State beat #11 Washington 35-28 to finish the season 11-2. Despite the Jerry Sandusky scandal, Penn State football never missed a snap. They never even suffered a losing season. They paid a fine (which we will elaborate on in a minute) and nameless administrators had short jail terms.
The Death Penalty should be exclusive to serious law-breakers, not programs that sent too many texts, had players who behaved poorly, or had players who sold their own property in exchange for tattoos. Those are mostly rules violations.
The Death Penalty should be exclusive to issues, institutional in nature, that broke laws.
These are the Top 5 programs that should have received the Death Penalty
5. Louisville Basketball - In 2013, Louisville Basketball was put on probation for using prostitutes to recruit players. Some people thought that the Death Penalty should have been on the table, but I think they were just dancing close to that line. Not unlike SMU, Louisville, instead of checking itself, went out and wrecked itself. Just months ago, the FBI arrested 10 people and during their investigation, they found Louisville was attempting to pay players' parents (allegedly up to $100,000) Already on probation, and with both the NCAA and the FBI breathing down their necks, Louisville fired Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino. Pitino, in his defense, is pleading ignorance, instead of being a cheater. Use whatever cliches you want, lack of institutional control, the inmates running the asylum, out of control boosters, whatever, Louisville is now the most prominent example of a "repeat offender" in today's game.
Louisville is practically begging the NCAA to give their Basketball Program the Death Penalty, with their only defense being they are Too Big to Fail.
4. Michigan Basketball - Which line of the 1040 EZ did Chris Weber claim his $200,000 or so under the table earnings from Michigan?
Yeah, that's what I thought....
(I didn't even mention the rest of the Fab Five.)
3. SMU Football - Deserved, and received, the Death Penalty in 1987.
You Can Watch the Movie about the SMU Football scandal on ESPN
You Can Read about the scandal at Fortune
You Can Read about the scandal at Time
You Can Read about the scandal at The Washington Post
For goodness sakes, there's a Wiki Page for the Scandal.
2. Baylor Basketball -
“In the nine years I was on the committee, we only brushed up against [the death penalty] once, and that was in the Baylor basketball case" -Gene Marsh
There was the academic fraud, the secret positive drug tests, and the unethical conduct of the coaching staff. But what should have had the NCAA storm the campus and slam locks on the doors of Baylor Basketball was the murder of Patrick Dennehy by teammate Carlton Dotson. Dotson is currently serving 35 years in prison and is eligible for parole in 2021.
1. Penn State Football
Everything that everyone did at Penn State during the Jerry Sandusky Child Sex Abuse Case did so to protect the Football Program. Not unlike the Catholic Church Sex Abuse Scandal, where were the voices protecting the kids? No one said "holy cow, we can't have this guy on campus, he's a monster."
Unlike the other cases, there were no red flags to the NCAA. The Sandusky Scandal was a closely held secret across the Penn State Administration for years. Joe Paterno himself was an old school coach who preached old school values and work ethic. Oh, but then posthumously you find out that Paterno hid child abuse allegations by his assistant coach Jerry Sandusky as far back as 1976, meaning that by the time Sandusky was indicted in 2011, that's 25 FULL YEARS OF SUSPICIONS! Sandusky was convicted of 45 counts of sexual abuse in 2012.
Without getting into the sordid nitty-gritty of the case, let's stick to the law and the results.
With the Death Penalty used as a threat, in 2012 Penn State accepted these sanctions.
$60 million fine
4-Year Postseason Ban
Vacated victories from 1998-2011
Now in 2014, the NCAA cut the Postseason Ban to time-served. Restored the scholarship reductions, and restored the victories. Meaning that Penn State basically bought their way out of trouble. Penn States' punishment after the NCAA caved?
$60 million fine
2-Year Postseason Ban
Scholarship Reductions 2012-2013.
Now let's pick a Big 10 doormat since 2012. Okay, I choose Purdue, losing record from 2012-2016 and was 7-6 in 2017. For that period Purdue made $2 million in 2017's Foster Farms Bowl. For the same period, Penn State made...
2012-2013 Postseason Ban
2014 $2 million Pinstripe Bowl
2015 $2.75 million TaxSlayer Bowl
2016 $18 million Rose Bowl
2017 $4 million Fiesta Bowl
Now during those 6 years, all Big Ten Schools shared in the pot when a team from the conference played in the Rose Bowl or one of the major Bowl games. Meaning Purdue probably made $5-10 million after their cut during this time period (again, not regular season, just the Bowl season) despite only appearing in one Bowl game. Penn State, on the other hand, made $30-40 million. So in 6 years, the NCAA had enabled Penn State to earn back a large chunk of their fine on the football field.
Ultimate Penalty for Penn State? Money and Bad Press.
Former PSU Athletic Director Tim Curry: Jail Term.
Former PSU President Graham Sanier: Jail Term (on appeal). He is countersuing PSU for breech of contract in relation to his 2011 resignation.
Former PSU Senior Vice President Gary Schultz: Jail Term.
Winningest Division I Coach of All-Time, Joe Paterno? Deceased, but all his wins counted. All 409. Just this year, the family dismissed their case against the NCAA. No, you didn't read that wrong.
Jerry Sandusky became Joe Paterno's defensive line coach in 1969, 3 years after Paterno became PSU's head coach. Even after his retirement in 1999, Sandusky had a presence on the Penn State campus through his charity The Second Mile. Sandusky was banned from campus...in 2011. For 42 years Sandusky had access to Penn State facilities. All thanks to Joe Paterno. I want his family to think about that for a while. Either your Father was unfathomably ignorant or he was an enabler. The court case allows for nothing else in between.
The Freeh Report stated that the most senior leaders at Penn State showed a "total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky's child victims." for 14 years. Penn State 100% bought their way out of the Death Penalty.
Don't give me this B.S. about harming the student-athletes. You release the students and allow them to go to other colleges immediately and allow the other programs to pick up the scholarships. Believe it or not, programs are killed all the time for various reasons. Let me tell you about a few programs that DIDN'T DESERVE THE DEATH PENALTY FROM THEIR OWN ADMINISTRATIONS:
5. Kent State Hockey
In 1994, I was sitting in the stands as Kent State finished their season 11-26-2. Rumors were swirling that the hockey program was going to be ending at the Division I level so I wanted to be at that last game, if that was truly the case. Sure enough, Kent President Carol Cartwright used the excuse of a hazing incident a few years prior to implement a budget cut.
The author and his sad selfie with his 1993 Kent State Hockey Jersey
And, as simple as that, Kent State Hockey was no more. The hockey team had a cult following (at best), and all Cartwright saw was easily erased financial liability. Kent hockey exists on the club level today playing teams like Adrian College and Indiana Tech.
4. Grand Canyon University Wrestling
Phoenix's young Antelopes are Division I's only for-profit university. Bought in 2004, enrollment has spiked and the infusion of cash has upgraded the athletic department. But again, as a for-profit, the university deemed wrestling as unsustainable. As the school transitions the rest of their other athletic programs to Division I, Dan Majerle, formerly of the Phoenix Suns leads the basketball team, I can't really complain that they treated their wrestlers poorly. GCU said they would honor the athlete's scholarships and have made it easy for them to transfer if that was their choice.
I found the official release form online.
Just business, despite Grand Canyon Wrestlers winning National Honors as late as 2014.
3. Southern Illinois Men's Gymnastics
Not familiar with Southern Illinois? They won the Division I championship in Men's Gymnastics 4 times between 1964 and 1972 and were runners up in the Team competition on 5 more occasions. Despite being the sport on campus with the most national championships, men's gymnastics was unceremoniously discontinued in 1989.
For nearly a generation both wrestling and men's gymnastics programs have been disappearing from Division I. Most attribute it to business, but others blame Title IX: ''The advocates of Title IX say it's just a choice how athletic directors spent the money,'' Ron Galimore (US Gymnastics) said. ''I don't think the intention of Title IX was to eliminate sports for some and provide sports for others, but there has been a knee-jerk reaction.''
Nearly 100 Men's Wrestling and Gymnastic Programs have disappeared from Division I since 1972.
2. Northeastern Football
In 2009, perennial doormats Northeastern voted to discontinue their football program. In an almost unheard of stance, Northeastern wanted to focus on their other sports. "Ultimately it was determined that elevating and sustaining a competitive Division I football program would require additional multimillion dollar investments on an ongoing basis," the statement said. "A broad consensus developed behind discontinuing football and focusing future resources on programs -- both academic and non-academic -- where the university can achieve and sustain leadership."-ESPN
Northeastern Football cancelled their program about a decade after their traditional rival Boston University cancelled their program, but you can still find BU football on the club level.
1. University of Baltimore Basketball
Today there are just over 100 Division I football teams, yet over 300 Division I basketball teams. Disbanding a Division I basketball team is almost unprecedented, with basketball being one of the top 2 or 3 moneymakers on most campuses. In 1983, the University of Baltimore disbanded their basketball team. As a matter of fact, they had discontinued all varsity level sports by 1983.
What the Death Penalty does is it essential punishes successful programs that can't be controlled by their own administrations. If programs didn't make money, Universities have had no problems instituting their own death penalties throughout history.
Again, follow the money...