WASHINGTON, D.C., July 23 (DPI) — The NCAA meted out its punishment today on the Penn State football program, including a $60 million fine, a four-year suspension of bowl appearances, and the vacating of 111 wins dating to 1998. The avalanche of online reader comments reflected outrage for what the NCAA did — and didn’t do.
In fact, reader comment boards blistered with emotion. Comment volume today was two and three times the average for news stories on NYTimes.com (1100 comments by 5pm) and WSJ.com (500 comments).
The comments reflected nothing close to consensus.
According to readers, either the NCAA did too much to punish the football program, or it didn’t do enough. Or, readers said, the NCAA lacked the authority to punish an institution that employed former football assistant Jerry Sandusky, the convicted sex offender, and administrators, who according to a recent report took no action against him. Many readers said the NCAA shouldn’t be its own criminal justice system when one individual committed heinous crimes and a handful of others covered them up.
But the most highly recommended comments on nytimes.com tilted toward criticism of the NCAA for not shutting down Penn State’s football program altogether.
(gbayol, San Francisco, 68 Recommendations) “Most of those hurt by these sanctions will be innocent athletes, students and employees of Penn State. Keep the punishment to the guilty. The NCAA itself could take some blame.”
And many comments reflected a deep suspicion of the NCAA itself, even as the collegiate sports authority claims it will use the huge fine money for charitable purposes.
(TB, Philadelphia, 77 Recommendations) “I’m sure the NCAA has a good use for $60 million — maybe they can build themselves a new headquarters or something. But this punishment seems more about sending a political message than it is about punishing the guilty.”
(PQuincy, California, 77 Recommendations) “It pains me, but in these cynical times I have to ask: an ‘endowment will be established to help victims of child abuse.’ Sounds very virtuous…but will it in fact be a series of new cushy jobs for NCAA to hand out for patronage? Director of the Endowment, Associate Director, etc. etc.. Anything having to do with NCAA requires close and constant auditing, since it is a fundamentally corrupt and dishonest organization whose primary function is to exploit the so-called student-athletes for the benefit of TV, university administrations, sports marketing and all the rest, without letting a penny go to the athletes themselves.”
Another 20-30 percent of all reader comments reflected a feeling that the NCAA had no business disciplining a football program when the criminal justice system had already convicted the principal perpetrator.
(WSJ.com reader) “Screw the NCAA. Who are they to fine Penn State for a non-sports transgression. Government and quasi-government agency intrusion is over the top.” To which another replied: “Penn State voluntarily belongs to the NCAA — if they don’t like it, they can vamoose.”