"The NCAA has surrendered." Those words were spoken last week by Pennsylvania State Senate Majority leader Jake Corman, after college sports' governing body announced it was reinstating the 112 Penn State football wins that were vacated in 2012, as a reaction to the Jerry Sandusky scandal. The result from this action allows the late coach Joe Paterno to move back on top of the all-time coaching wins list with 409 victories. I have mixed emotions about reinstating those wins, because even though Coach Paterno didn't commit those heinous sexual acts against children himself, I do believe he was aware of them; at least to some extent. And in my humble opinion, that is almost as heinous.
We have all spent a lot of time debating the rights and wrongs of the Sandusky scandal; who knew what and when did they know it.
There is no question the actions by Coach Sandusky were the all-time worst and most disgusting actions ever committed in college football, but those actions had nothing at all to do with football. Therefore, the NCAA had no business whatsoever in jumping in and handing down sanctions. The NCAA should have let the state of Pennsylvania and Penn State University handle things themselves. Sandusky broke the law and was punished. He will never again see the outside of a prison and rightly so. The school president was fired as was the athletic director and others, including Joe Paterno, and all those firings were justified.
Usually the NCAA hands down sanctions to punish schools for breaking rules to gain an unfair advantage. There was no unfair advantage in this situation. Penn State gained nothing from the sordid actions of Jerry Sandusky, so the NCAA should have stayed out of this whole situation; at least until the state of Pennsylvania had a chance to sort things out and hand down their own punishments.
Years ago, heads looked the other way when actions like Sandusky's were suspected. The "good ole boys" looked after each other and if looking the other way was what one had to do to avoid any knowledge of such atrocious actions, one looked the other way; especially for the good of the team. Things thankfully aren't like that anymore. The well-being of an innocent young person is more important than any team, in any league, anywhere.
In their usual pompous way, the NCAA will settle a lawsuit with the Paterno family, yet never admitting they did any thing wrong. NCAA President mark Emmert said this week, "We are not at all admitting that we didn't have the authority to impose the penalties." Well, admit or not, the NCAA did not have that right. It was not an issue that should have involved the NCAA at all.
A few days after Coach Paterno was let go by Penn State, the school decided to remove the huge bronze statue of him from the stadium grounds. It has been in storage for the last two and a half years while all scenarios played out. There is now a movement among former players and long-time Penn State supporters to put Paterno's statue back in it's place. I'm not sure that is a good idea. Most every person who will pass by the statue will think of the "scandal" before they think of a single one of Paterno's 409 victories.
Here's a thought; maybe the NCAA should jump back in where it doesn't belong and help Penn State decide what to do with the statue.
Randy Smith has been covering sports on radio, television and print for the past 45 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has written two books, and has continued to free-lance as a play-by-play announcer. He is currently teaching Broadcasting at Coahulla Creek High School near Dalton, Ga.
His career has included a 17-year stretch as host of the Kickoff Call In Show on the University of Tennessee’s prestigious Vol Network. He has been a member of the Vol Network staff for thirty years.
He has done play-by-play on ESPN, ESPN II, CSS, and Fox SportSouth, totaling more than 500 games, and served as a well-known sports anchor on Chattanooga Television for more than a quarter-century.
In 2003, he became the first television broadcaster to be inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame. Randy and his wife Shelia reside in Hixson. They have two married children, (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith.) They have four grandchildren, Coleman, Boone, DellaMae and CoraLee.
To contact Randy: firstname.lastname@example.org