The sanctions slapped on Penn State football in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal charter a new territory in punishment by the NCAA, a sports author said today.
"I think it is unprecedented in terms of taking away wins. That's a huge blow," says Ted Kluck, author of several books on sports, including Game Time: Inside College Football.
Kluck noted that Penn State avoided the NCAA "death penalty," which would have prevented the football team from competing at all for one season.
"There were a lot of people who speculated that it might happen at Penn State," says Kluck. "But then there was a lot of discussion as to whether they really wanted to punish the kids who are under scholarship and the people who didn't have anything to do with what happened."
As we noted earlier today, the NCAA hit Penn State with a $60 million fine, the forfeiture of all of the football team's wins since 1998, ban on participation in post-season football bowl games for four years and a reduction in the number of football scholarships from 25 to 15 for four years.
For some fans, such as Chuck Pudliner, simply escaping without the harshest of harsh penalties was not enough to assuage bruised egos.
"Just to think this all came about because of one twisted person is unbelievable," Pudliner wrote on PSU's Facebook page referring to Sandusky, a former assistant coach who was convicted of sexually assaulting 10 boys.
"It's more than just football," he said. "Kids' possible future careers are affected by this also."
Kluck says NCAA President Mark Emmert is taking his association — an umbrella for most of the country's university athletic programs — into new territory.
Emmert, who took over the post of president less than two years ago, is "essentially trying to punish a criminal, non-football violation within the framework of an athletic association," says Kluck.
"He's also responding to something that happened in the past with a sanction that hurts the program in the present," Kluck said. "That said, his tenure will be defined by this incident, and he had to do something."
Laying out the penalties on Monday, Emmert alluded to the support that had grown up at PSU around Paterno and his legendary football program, chastising the university for athletic "hero worship."
"Anytime idealism dies, cynicism follows. People are cynical now in the wake of this because their idol fell. There will be no satisfying resolution to this," he said.