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Brad Bumsted: Changing the record book

HARRISBURG

You'll find no sympathy here for Penn State.

There's the $60 million fine. There's the loss of scholarships. There's a ban on bowl games. The football program essentially is crippled for the next decade.

All because of the cover- up for serial child predator Jerry Sandusky.

It is not only one of the worst incidents in the history of college sports, it's the worst scandal in my three decades of covering Pennsylvania politics. Nothing — positively nothing — compares to the Sandusky case. Not the Kids for Cash judicial scandal. Not the scores of political scandals since the Shapp administration.

So no, these penalties are not out of line although I am not sure where the NCAA gets the authority to do this on so-called “governance issues.” It always seemed to me the NCAA was supposed to investigate ambitious boosters showering gifts on players.

It seems like a power grab by the NCAA.

Even the so-called “death penalty,” a ban on playing games, would not have been out of line.

That said, one issue that seems just flat-out wrong is taking 112 victories away from Penn State, ensuring Joe Paterno is not the winningest coach of all time.

How can the NCAA just change reality?

Where does it get off doing it? Why would the Penn State administration agree? Just to avoid the death penalty, a ban on football for one year?

Taking the 112 games out of the win column?

The kids, parents, fans invested in those games, saw them win.

They made it happen.

They had nothing to do with Jerry Sandusky or the cover-up.

That part seems unjust and unfair.

And all to stick it to Joe Paterno because he allegedly was part of the “conspiracy of silence.”

It's a way to punish a guy who's deceased.

Because Paterno cannot any longer be punished in civil or criminal court — assuming he was really guilty of something — you take away his wins?

Again, I have no sympathy for Joe Paterno. But is this fair?

What happens if on-leave Athletic Director Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, the former vice president of finance, are acquitted in the criminal case against them for allegedly conspiring to deep-six Sandusky allegations?

They were allegedly the conspirators with JoePa to keep incidents over a decade all hush-hush to avoid embarrassment to the university, according to the report by former FBI Director Louis Freeh, commissioned by Penn State.

How will the NCAA look if Curley and Schultz walk? Just something to consider.

It does seem reasonable for Penn State to use the report by Freeh as the basis for sanctions. After all, it was the university's report.

Imagine if it had not acted before September and the football season were under way.

So yes, the NCAA had to act quickly.

But there is some risk that the story — the facts — could change.

In summary, the penalties were not too harsh. The death penalty might have been warranted.

And taking away the hard-earned wins was outrageous.

Brad Bumsted is the state Capitol reporter for Trib Total Media. (717-787-1405 or [email protected].)


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