College Football: Damage Not Limited To The Penn State Football Program


November 20, 2010; Landover, MD, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions head coach Joe Paterno stands on the field in 2010 at Fedex Field. Mandatory Credit: Maxwell Kruger-US PRESSWIRE

I know that my view may be in the minority but I do not agree with the penalties handed out by the NCAA to Penn State relating to the Jerry Sandusky scandal.  What Sandusky did was truly vile and accordingly he should spend the rest of his life behind bars.  Likewise, what Joe Paterno and other senior administrators did by looking the other way was absolutely egregious and something should be done about it.  However, I do not believe that the NCAA is the right governing body to address this issue.  This is something that should be handled through criminal and civil litigation.

The purpose of the NCAA is to oversee collegiate athletics to ensure compliance to rules established by its members for fair play.  The truth of the matter is that Penn State broke none of those rules and as a result is not accountable to the NCAA for any violation.  The cover-up of the vile actions of Sandusky had nothing to do with protecting the football program but it had everything to do with protecting the university from a lawsuit.

This is only seen as a football issue because the perpetrator was a football coach and one of the individuals who looked the other way was the head football coach.  Let’s take football out of the equation for a moment:  If Sandusky was a science professor and Paterno was head of the science department, would the science department be shuttered?  The answer to that question is no.

Football has unfairly been turned into the enemy in this situation and because of that, more than just the football program will suffer.  According to U.S. Department of Education figures for the 2010-2011 reporting period, Penn State had total revenues of $116,118,026 against expenses of $84,498,339 for net revenue of $31,619,687.  The football program had total revenues of $72,747,734 against expenses of $19,519,288 for net revenue of $53,228,446.

If football was removed completely from the equation the athletic department would have total revenues $43,370,292 against expenses of $64,979,051.  This means that without the football program, the athletic department is looking at a deficit of $21,608,759.  With the shortage of money, how are the other athletic programs going to continue to operate?  Penn State will certainly have to look at cutting other athletic programs or drastically cutting funding to try to break even.

Then there is the scholarship reduction.  Penn State will be limited to no more than 65 scholarships instead of the standard 85 for the next 4 years.  In total this adds up to 80 scholarships that won’t be given out.  You can say that the recruits can just go to other schools, but the reality is that the NCAA is not going to increase the national pool of available scholarships by 20 to replace this loss.  In the end this means that there are going to be 80 individuals that could not otherwise afford the cost of college that will not get scholarship.

Lastly the impact on the community is going to be severe.  The local economy in College Station is very much dependent on the athletic program for business.  A 2009 report done by Tripp Umbach for the university, estimated that the football program brought the county more than $90 million annually.  This lost money means individuals in the hospitality and service industry will lose their jobs and will be unable to support themselves or their families.  Some businesses could potentially fold.

This slow death penalty implemented by the NCAA has far reaching implications beyond just the football program.  It will drastically change the landscape of the athletic program and the community.  It unfairly impacts individuals that had nothing to do with this scandal.  Sandusky and those individuals, who did not act, have left countless victims in their wake.