The Penn State report on the coverup of sexual abuse allegations against former football coach Jerry Sandusky had the talking heads at ESPN all agog Thursday. Because you need to be over-the-top outrageous to get a talk show gig nowadays, the topic of the "death penalty" for the football program was being bantered about. But I think there are far more fitting punishments for these egregious transgressions.
First off, don't kill the football program. As I have mentioned before, big-time college football has become a necessary evil in today's athletic universe. If you do away with the 85 scholarships provided to football players, 85 scholarships for female athletes will go away as well. And the millions of dollars of revenue generated by football will be lost, meaning more sports--both women's and men's--would be dropped as well. And what did those athlete's do to deserve the loss of their opportunity to get a higher education?
Instead of killing Penn State Football--allow it to pay for its own sins. Thursday's report all but guarantees that every child ever touched by Jerry Sandusky after the first allegation made against him to PSU officials wil have grounds for a lawsuit. That will be tens or hundreds of millions of dollars of payments and legal bills for the University. Rather than have that money come out of educational funding or tuition increases or from the school's endowments--add a ten dollar surcharge to all tickets sold for Nittany Lions home games.
Beaver Stadium holds more than 100-thousand people--and it is sold out for all home games. That means every home game will generate over a million dollars for sexual abuse lawsuit settlements. And each ticket sold should have printed in bold on the face "PRICE INCLUDES A $10 SURCHARGE FOR SEXUAL ABUSE COVERUP LEGAL SETTLEMENTS"--just to remind Penn State fans what their blind allegiance and belief that somehow their program was above reproach had wrought.
There were also calls by the talking heads to tear down the Joe Paterno statue on the Penn State campus and to remove his name from the Library. Again, very misguided suggestions. Joe Paterno existed and he did plenty of very good things for his college. This isn't the Soviet Union where historical figures can literally be written out of existance. Instead, another statue should be erected right next to the JoePa one where it would be impossible not to notice. The statue should feature the head of a child with an adult hand covering its mouth--because that is what the coaches, the athletic department officials and the school leaders did--silenced those who already struggled to speak. The base of the new statue should be ringed--again in bold letters--with the phrase "JUSTICE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN IMAGE".