What Jerry Sandusky did to those kids defies any kind of words that I can deliver. And nothing Penn State can do will ever serve as a make-good. You can't retroactively change what happened, or magically heal the human beings affected by Sandusky's inhumane behavior.
However, it's equally unreasonable to expect that nothing be done. Life should not be allowed to go on as normal at that university.
And it won't.
Monday morning, the NCAA announced historic sanctions against the university. Here are the details:
The NCAA has hit Penn State with a $60 million sanction, a four-year football postseason ban and a vacation of all wins dating to 1998, the organization announced Monday morning in a news release.
"These funds must be paid into an endowment for external programs preventing child sexual abuse or assisting victims and may not be used to fund such programs at the university," the statement said.
The career record of former head football coach Joe Paterno will reflect these vacated records," the statement continued.
Penn State must also reduce 10 initial and 20 total scholarships each year for a four-year period, the release said.
Like I said, it's not enough. It's also not enough that legendary coach Joe Paterno's statue outside Beaver Stadium was taken down on Sunday.
"I now believe that, contrary to is original intention, Coach Paterno's statue has become a source of division and an obstacle to healing in our university and beyond," (school president Rodney) Erickson said in his 592-word statement. "For that reason, I have decided that it is in the best interest of our university and public safety to remove the statue and store it in a secure location."
It's not the right decision. It's the only decision.
There is a healing process that the university needs to go through here. It was rocked to its core by this scandal, which didn't even last the length of a pregnancy. The Sandusky investigation results were released on a lazy Saturday last November. From that point, everything seems to have been practically in fast-forward. Paterno was removed as football coach, the university decided to hire an outside guy -- New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien -- to lead the program, Paterno died, Sandusky was convicted of 45 counts related to abusing children, and former FBI director Louis Freeh destroyed any remnants of Paterno's legacy in his report on the scandal, released not even two weeks ago.
Paterno was aware of at least some of Sandusky's behavior; certainly, the former coach knew enough that he had to think someone should stop Sandusky. Instead, he seemed more interested in protecting the minions that "ran" the university, and protecting reputations that didn't need or deserve protecting. He was an active participant in the attempted cover-up, and frankly, based on Freeh's report, Paterno should have been facing federal charges along with former school officials Tim Curley and Graham Spanier, who are facing charges.
These punishments by the NCAA don't solve any of this. Nothing will. The organization felt it had no choice. But more than that, NCAA president Mark Emmert felt a need to protect his phony-baloney job with this action. It's an action he should have taken with rogue schools years ago, but chose to follow the NCAA's horrific processes.
Matt Hayes of The Sporting News believes the NCAA has shown its hypocritical side in all of this.
Excuse me if I can't get excited about an organization that saw Ohio State players accept cash in envelopes after coach Jim Tressel's lies and illegal benefits for players were exposed, but said lack of institutional control wasn't an issue.
If I can't get excited about an organization that knew Cecil Newton was shopping his son, Cam, to Mississippi State — yet let him continue to play at Auburn (and eventually win a national championship) — because it had no rule prohibiting parents from shopping their offspring to the highest bidder.
If I can't get excited about an organization that knows street agent Willie Lyles was paid $25,000 by Oregon for useless recruiting information; that knows Lyles was the "mentor" for five-star recruit Lache Seastrunk; that knows Oregon coach Chip Kelly lied when asked by a newspaper if he knew Lyles (Kelly later said, we call him 'Will'); that knows Kelly told Lyles he needed more recruiting information from Lyles after the fact, yet we're more than a year into the Oregon investigation with no end in sight.
If I can't get excited about an organization that looked at quite possibly the worst case of NCAA infractions in the history of the sport at North Carolina — in its depth and breadth of clear, indisputable illegal benefits and academic fraud issues — and decided it wasn't as destructive as a Southern Cal assistant coach who the NCAA claimed "knew or should have known" Reggie Bush was getting illegal benefits.
What happened at Penn State is the single greatest tragedy in sports history. Whatever penalties the university receives from the NCAA — whether or not the sport's governing body and Penn State agreed on them — isn't the point. If it were up to me, I'd shut down the program for the exact number of years the university hid the child abuse.
This isn't a bad take at all.
We have to step away from the raw emotions of a horrific moment in college football, and look at the bigger picture. You can't make a quick decision on one case because it's unthinkable in its impact and destruction on so many lives, and then drag your feet on others (Southern Cal, North Carolina, Oregon, Ohio State, Miami of Florida) that cut to the very core of amateur athletics.
You can't claim lack of subpoena power in exposing issues at rogue schools, and then use the Freeh Report as the framework of your sanctions against Penn State — the same Freeh Commission that also had no subpoena power.
Hayes is right in what he is saying. The NCAA is an athletics institution, yet it has miserably failed to properly govern athletics.
Maybe this will spur some action in that regard. But virtually everything with the NCAA is a process, so don't bet on it.