CNN's recent discovery that former Penn State University President Graham Spanier, former Athletic Director Tim Curley, and former PSU vice president Gary Schultz (Joe Paterno is indicted by inference) may have been involved in covering up Jerry Sandusky's crimes is a sign that the nightmare for Penn State is far from over. Sadly, it hasn't even progressed past the investigation phase.
OWH columnist Lee Barfknecht responded with an article suggesting that the Big Ten Conference should consider whether Penn State continues to be a member, stating:
The institution that needs to consider real action against Penn State is the Big Ten Conference.
I don't mean Commissioner Jim Delany, either. This is about the presidents of this esteemed, we-do-it-right-or-we-don't-do-it-at-all league gathering to address what now is the biggest question of all:
Does Penn State belong in the Big Ten?
My first reaction; Nebraska has been in the Big Ten all of a whole year now. Who the hell are we to be suggesting that another university doesn't belong? That's a pretty haughty position, isn't it? (I'm not great at first reactions - anyone who follows me on twitter knows this already.)
My second reaction was slower, but more reasoned.
Penn State may survive this scandal, but then again, it may not. Between civil lawsuits and loss of reputation, it's sure that the university will suffer long term affects.
Would being expelled by the Big Ten Conference help the situation?
Even if your initial reaction is to buy into the "you're judged by the company you keep" line that Barfknecht is trying to sell, it is not in the best interest of the Big Ten Conference, nor of its members, to assist in the destruction of a university.
Dennis Dodd at CBS Sports suggests that the NCAA needs to "make Penn state pay", a constantly used media theme based on "sending a message", this time the message being that "football isn't that important. Ever."
Spanier's, Curley's, and Schultz' careers are destroyed. The same will happen to anyone else found culpable in a cover up. They will be exposed to lawsuits that will strip them of any assets, and if they are found guilty of having broken laws they will face criminal penalties that will likely include jail time (imagine the judge or prosecutor that lets them get probation - that isn't happening). Their names (as will Paterno's, fair or not) will be forever linked to the horrific acts of Sandusky, acts recognized universally as amongst the most heinous one human being can do to another.
Does anyone believe that those consequences aren't sufficient enough to "send a message" to anyone else that this kind of behavior isn't tolerated?
I don't understand the need to call on the NCAA to penalize the football team, nor do I understand why the Big Ten Conference should be worrying about dismissing Penn State from the conference. While these themes may make great internet fodder, they only serve to provoke overly emotional responses to an already terrible situation.
The focus of these investigations and subsequent criminal and civil proceedings should be on those that have done wrong, not on students, professors, PSU employees and alums who had nothing to do with what has happened.
A great evil has been perpetrated. Fanning the flames to punish the innocent serves only to make it worse.