I’ve been thinking about the PSU scandal for a while now, and talking to quite a few people: some who work in higher ed, some who are Penn State fans (and fans of other teams) and some who are simply outraged at the amount of covering up and passing the buck that went on (and to some extent continues).
As I’ve been thinking, I’ve begun to make a connection with the current presidential campaign, and specifically the Bain saga.
We’ve been castigating Mitt Romney for exemplifying the modern notion of institutional/individual responsibility, whereby Romney claims to have no responsibility for decisions made by an institution in which he played a substantial role, while benefiting directly from those decisions.
If that’s a “bad” thing, then wouldn’t the opposite, “good” thing be for people who are members of an institution to accept responsibility for the failings of that institution even if they as individuals are not responsible for those failings?
I’m not going to disagree with the idea that, under a program suspension scenario, players should be allowed to transfer away. But if we’re going to make value judgements, voluntary self-punishment is exactly what I think Penn State should have done: self-suspend for two years (say) and then re-evaluate. Accept responsibility for the failings of your institution and work to overcome them.
If they had done this (i.e., suspended the program), and a core of players, coaches and administrators had said “this wasn’t our fault, but we’re going to make something good come out of a bad situation”, and had then stuck together and waited the suspension out, I think that it could have been the groundwork for a true healing process.
Anyway, these are half-formed thoughts. My overriding sense is that the NCAA punishment is just further “business as usual”, and as such, it doesn’t do much to restore the image of college football.