JAY DAVIS: NCAA atoning for overreaction with Penn State

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Every once in a while, the NCAA does something that makes people stop and say, “Yay.” It does not happen too often, but it does occur occasionally. It happened yesterday when the NCAA announced that it was going to start easing its sanctions against the Penn State football program.

Beginning next year the Nittany Lions will start getting their scholarships. First they will get five recouped. That number will be restored to 25 initial scholarships and a full 85 team scholarships by the end of the 2017-18 school year.

Nothing about the $60 million fine, the four-year postseason ban and five years of probation have been mentioned yet, but hopefully some of that will be addressed soon also.

The NCAA is saying it is taking steps to help Penn State as a reward because the school is demonstrating a commitment to restoring the integrity of the athletic program.

On the surface this may sound like it is a first step in the healing process after the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

It isn’t. This is the beginning of the NCAA righting a wrong. You see the penalties that were handed out. You see that a group of young football players are living with these penalties. You see that these young men are having to live with sanctions placed on THEM because a child predator named Jerry Sandusky was on the campus, living his disgusting life a few years ago.

The truth is, the NCAA stepped in where it didn’t belong with the whole sexual abuse scandal broke. This was not a school cheating at football. This was a criminal trial about a monster who took advantage of young men who were supposed to be able to trust him.

He got his. Sandusky was sentenced to 30 to 60 years. He will never be a free man again.

But why has the Penn State football program been paying dearly for another’s misgivings?

Back in 2012, the NCAA made a stern judgment and did so with an iron glove. With Tuesday’s announcement, they are acknowledging (tacitly anyway) their original sanctions were rash and an overreaction.

This could have and should have been handled much better originally, but there is a turning point now and the light at the end of the tunnel has flickered on. The young men and women who walk the campus of Penn State should be able to feel as strong and proud as the students who attend every college and university in our great land.

 

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