Should the NCAA suspend the football program at Penn State?

The NCAA must decide how or whether to respond to the scandal involving sexual abuse of children by a former assistant coach in Penn State’s football program. An independent investigation found wide-ranging failures reaching to the top levels of the school’s administration. One possible response would be the so-called death penalty, or the temporary shutdown of football at the school. Today’s Question: Should the NCAA suspend the football program at Penn State?

  • John O.

    In 1987, the NCAA imposed the “death penalty” on Southern Methodist University (SMU) for maintaining a long-standing slush fund for illegally paying its football players. SMU did not play in the 1987 or 1988 season.

    If the NCAA imposed the “death penalty” for payola at SMU 25 years ago, I would think the NCAA would have difficulties explaining how a prominent Division I program that harbored a convicted pedophile for years–and knew it–does not merit the same penalty.

    The football program and the revenues from it are the only reason PSU is in the Big Ten Conference. In addition to the “death penalty,” the Big Ten should also give them the boot.

  • Keith

    As terrible as this crime was, it really had nothing to do with the football program in general and had more to due with poor decision-making on the part of university employees in an effort to deflect bad publicity on the school. It didn’t involve the players, it didn’t involve the football program in particular, other than the locale and the persons involved. It was not a ‘football’ issue. It could have just as well happened in the university day care center (assuming there is such a thing). The main part of the issue is the coverup by university officials of criminal activity by staff that would have reflected poorly on the university’s image. Part of my problem with this is the NCAA sticking it’s nose in many facets of colleges and universities which it has no business doing so.

  • Jim G

    It appears that Penn State’s leaders made a Faustian bargain with Mephistopheles. The devil would serve Penn State’s football program, until the the death of Paterno. They have sold their souls, and now it’s time to pay for their gluttony. I say they deserve a year’s suspension for each victim. I believe that number is nine: sexually abused children that should have been protected rather than the reputation of Penn State. They have no honor.

  • Joanna

    Yes, absolutely.

  • Steve the Cynic

    I couldn’t care less. College football should be abolished, and the NFL forced to develop its own farm system. The whole HS and college football system is about abusing the bodies of boys and young men for fun and profit. A small fraction of a percent get to play in the pros, while college and NCAA officials make money hand over fist on their unpaid labor.

  • Mark in Freeborn

    What happened at Penn State is a tragedy, but I don’t believe it warrants suspension of the entire football program. I don’t see any reason to punish fans of Nittany Lion football, not to mention thousands of alumni, for the actions of a few.

  • GregX

    nO – it should suspend NCAA football across the entire nation. football needs a 2.0 reboot. under the current program – outsize and excessive coaching staffs, over-blown stadiums and training facilities, low-graduation rates, beligerent-ill-mannered and over-muscled behemoths are let loose in society with no skills and no degree. Stop college footbal, Stop NCAA football, Stop it ALL. The morons are ruining athletics for the bulk of athletes that go to school, study, play a sport, graduate and get a regular job.

  • GregX

    “I don’t see any reason to punish fans of Nittany Lion football, not to mention thousands of alumni, for the actions of a few. ” ………………….. WRONG … If I owned a dog that attacked kids more than once – I’d put it down.

  • GregX

    SteveTheCynic- College football should be abolished, and the NFL forced to develop its own farm system. —————– BINGO – ON THE NOSIE!!!

  • Jim G

    Yes. One year’s suspension for each soul sounds like justice. This abuse went on for 15 years and was covered up. I’m correcting the number of sexually abused boys. The correct number of victims is not nine, but ten: guilty on forty-five counts. It should have been stopped.

  • Elijah the Tishbite

    This is what happens when you worship idols: human sacrifice. No more human sacrifice! Stop sacrificing our young men to Footbaal! Quit believing Footbaal’s false promises!

  • John

    No, the primary person that did the crime is doing time so the system works. Leave them alone.

  • Ann

    I recall talking to a relative that lives there. I got the feeling that football was so important that no one would dare report anything that might bring down the football program.I think this could happen at many schools.If the embarrassment of this scandal isn’t a wake up call, then the “death penalty” probably wouldn’t have an effect either.I don’t watch sports and am not usually impressed by athletes. I didn’t have the ability to even do basic things in gym class. I was hated and bullied because of it.So the whole obsession with sports seems to cause a lot of negative behavior.

  • Gary F

    It will be very interesting to see what happens of this.

    The NCAA spent a lot of time penalizing colleges for having Native American names.

    Will they expend that much capital in punishing child molesters and the organization that covered it up?

  • georges

    Yes, of course the NCAA should give the Death Penalty to Penn State.

    Not just the football program, but all athletic programs at PSU.

    And not just for a year or two, but forever. A true Death.

    We should see a great many civil suits for damages. And, hopefully, those suits will name the NCAA as well as Penn State, et al. The NCAA gave Penn State the money to build and maintain the showers, dressing rooms, clubhouses, etc., that were used by that evil person to ply his trade preying on the unprotected. The NCAA is responsible, just as the University is.

  • suestuben

    To look at this issue legally, what was the ‘intent’ of the parties who covered up this horrific crime? Apparently, Paterno told the Board that it would affect income from alumni if the scandal got out and his word was allowed to rule the day. So the intent was to continue the flow of money into Penn State at the expense of the abused children. Because of that intent, the school should be punished by stopping the money flow generated by the football program. I think a 4 year stoppage of play would serve to alert all colleges and universities that there are worse things than losing cash flow. Hopefully it would also be a great lesson in morality for the students.

    (I agree with Steve that the Pros should develop their own farm systems and allow high schools and colleges to concentrate on education.)

  • Duane

    It would have been well if the posters had read the Tim Rohan article attached to this question. It more properly explains the details of the case. The most compelling point in the article is “The Sandusky case does not appear to involve any specific NCAA rule violation, criminal violations are not necessarily NCAA violations.” Joe Paterno was asked to resign and did so before his death. The University President, Athletic Director as well a several other administration officials also lost their jobs. There is also evidence that the police had been informed and failed in their responsibility to carry out their charge to properly execute the law. I would like to see the NCAA let the criminal acts be resolved in a proper court of law.

  • Mary

    Absolutely! Their system and culture put money first and the welfare of children last. This wasn’t the action of a couple of people that allowed the abuses to go on. Even the janitors knew about it and did nothing to help the kids for fear of losing their jobs. That definitely deserves punishment for their whole program.

  • Steve the Cynic

    I disagree that “the primary person that did the crime is doing time so the system works.” If the rest of the system is left as it is, then there is no consequence for the unnumbered folks who turned a blind eye to the problem and failed to report and investigate. People loved football at Penn State more than they cared for the victims. A harsh penalty for the program would give football lovers nation-wide an incentive to be more vigilant about abuses. But since the whole NCAA football system is inherently abusive of young men, it’s a bit like asking the Mob to adhere to proper accounting standards.

  • Mitchel

    “Give Socrates his school back”

    Should the NCAA suspend the football program at Penn State?

    Yes, and yes College football should be abolished and the NFL forced to develop its own farm system.

    Succeed in education not in exploitation.

    Let colleges grow minds and hemp/Cannabis.

  • James


    No need.

    They have ruined their own program for years, maybe forever.

    Acting now is a feel-good act of no particular consequence.

    Justice has already been served.

  • Rich H

    5 year suspension for Penn State; a 1-year time out for collegiate football nation-wide. That timeout could be used to determine how to put college football in it’s proper place within college education, which ostensibly was character development – a purpose that has gone terribly over the cliff. Any debates on suspensions or statue removals, ect for Penn State all have to ask whether forgoing any such punitive actions can be put next to what happened to nine children. There is no rationalizing on this matter that has any merit. Penn State’s hard fought reputation does not get to ignore defiling of nine children. A terrible act was committed. It’s high time for the sport to regain perspective and of course there need to be heavy repercussions – repercussions of a magnitude that tell the college system that such abuse will never be tolerated.

  • Mark in Freeborn

    So GregX, if you “owned a dog that attacked kids more than once,” would you put the ENTIRE kennel down?

  • Jefferson

    Mark in Freeborn – [So GregX, if you “owned a dog that attacked kids more than once,” would you put the ENTIRE kennel down?] *** That’s how it always works when the NCAA punishes a team for violations, it’s the students who did nothing wrong who pay the price in order to punish the institution and sports program. This is the model case for that punishment because it was the people at the top who protected the “program” because of it’s prestige; it’s time to take that “program” down a notch or two to make sure this will never happen again to this or any other football program. It will be a lesson those in charge that you should always do what’s right even if it’s initially embarrassing, if you attempt to hide something as horrible as this then you risk hurting the very thing you were trying to protect.

  • jockamo

    “They have ruined their own program for years, maybe forever.”


    Kind of like the Catholic Church. Sex scandals (much worse than Penn State), going back hundreds of years.

    And, oddly enough, I don’t see where it “ruined their own program for years, maybe forever.”

    Fact is, people love to get “outraged”……for awhile.

    Then they get over it, lose interest, on to the next juicy item in the news.

    The NCAA doesn’t have the backbone to do what needs to be done: Kill all sports programs at Penn State…..forever.

  • David Poretti

    $60,000,000? Big deal – that’s one year’s worth of ticket sales – or one afternoon on the golf course with key alumni. Having past wins taken out of the record books? Oh my! Here’s my idea of an NCAA punishment – 1) PSU to forfeit all future games for the next 10 years; 2) no sports camps for PSU coaches for 10 years; 3) throughout the NCAA, no coach getting paid more than the average professor with the same number of years in service for that particular school. That would address the issue of coaches becoming more powerful than the school – and still provide a really good salary.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Like Bush/Cheney when the Abu Ghraib scandal blew up, the NCAA scapegoats misbehavior by the few directly involved at PSU while ignoring the culture of violence and abuse in the system that gave rise to it. This was not a problem just with PSU, but with football itself.