NCAA sanctions against Penn State are misguided

I’m not going to pretend to be an expert in punishing monsters.

My only background on the matter came as a child. Close your eyes, count to 100 and Poof! The one living under my bed vanquished to a distant world.

But in the wake of the unprecedented penalties against Penn State’s football program, it’s apparent the NCAA isn’t an expert on the subject either. These are uncharted waters.

We are dealing with punishing real monsters.

We’re talking anybody who hid Jerry Sandusky’s atrocities that took place in Penn State locker rooms, elementary schools or in a questionably soundproofed basement.

But those are criminal allegations. The NCAA, by namesake, is an athletic association. The monster it sought to punish earlier this week was the Penn State football program, and the overbearing culture that led to a “lack of institutional control” by the University.

I imagine Penn State football isn’t alone. Capitalism has created a larger-than-life aura surrounding many college football programs, especially in the SEC. But Penn State got caught with the lights on, and public outcry made the NCAA react.

The 96 men on the Penn State roster are now essentially NFL free agents, minus a paycheck. In so many words, the NCAA’s mission is to turn the football program into a ghost town, its players best suited by transferring and leaving the program in the dust.

While Sandusky and his team of conspirers may beg to differ, it’s not so easy to uproot a life. Most of the players don’t want to leave their homes, and who could blame them?

The NCAA’s punishment ultimately misfired at the wrong perpetrator.

It’s not the players. It’s the culture.

Some things are just bigger than football. That’s the NCAA’s message, and it’s an important one. However, the punishment that was imposed is lazy. It’s uncreative in a matter that deserves the utmost creativity. The PSU penalty mirrors similar punishments designed to destroy schools for recruiting violations, not criminal behavior heightened by football frenzy.

Former Daily Illini assistant editor Spencer Turkin and I were talking the night before the “unprecedented sanctions” were released. He came up with, what I believe, is a proper solution that delivers the correct message.

Let nobody in.

Allow Penn State football to continue as usual, bowl-game eligibility and all, but don’t let fans into the stadium for the next few years. Outlaw tailgating. Blackout the television feed in Pennsylvania. Mandate the formation of a victim charity fund. Don’t allow the University to take in football revenue, but make it dish out stipends to local businesses and workers that would lose money from the eliminated crowds on Saturdays. Send the culture surrounding the program back to the Stone Age.

Punish the real monster.

When Joe Paterno first took over, his football program put State College, Pa., on the map. The NCAA should entrust academics to keep it there. No more flipping television trucks in the middle of the night when students should be flipping pages.

Make the University shift its focus from football and prove that “We are Penn State” means more than what happens from end line to end line.

_Ethan is a senior in Media._