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An object lesson for big college sports

July 23, 2012
The Journal

The conclusions reached by investigators looking into the sex scandal at Penn State University should prompt soul searching among those involved in college and university sports throughout the nation. A 267-page report on the tragedy found that former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky's predation against boys could have been stopped years ago, had Penn State officials, including the late Coach Joe Paterno, acted against him instead of worrying about tarnishing the Nittany Lions' reputation.

Now, it is tarnished beyond repair, in a way.

Misdeeds and outright crimes by players and coaches at some colleges and universities may not be as despicable as what Sandusky did, but all too often they are covered up for the same reasons as those that motivated Penn State officials.

Perpetuating a culture that tolerates misbehavior in order to avoid casting an unflattering light on a sports program is wrong, of course. It can result in great, lasting harm.

That is something coaches and higher education administrators should remember in dealing with everything from recruiting violations to assault.

The NCAA will be announcing punitive actions against Penn State today, penalties that are expected to be almost as severe as the "death penalty," or suspension of the program for a year. It is fitting. Even though Sandusky's actions and Penn State officials' misplaced priorities didn't create any competitive advantages for the school, it has shamed itself and brought discredit to the concept of college athletics.



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