NCAA returning some scholarships to Penn State football is mostly a powerplay

The NCAA just reduced scholarship sanctions against Penn State Football. Starting with the next recruiting class, the Nittany Lions will be able to add five scholarships a year, meaning they’ll be back up to a full class of 25 by 2015-2016. Here’s the breakdown from SB Nation: Penn State’s reduced sanctions a major boost for recruiting: Explaining the math. In short, this is huge for Penn State football moving forward. However, let’s not think for a minute that this is the NCAA being magnanimous — this is a big power play.

By the way, there are approximately three schools of thought on the NCAA’s role in Penn State’s mishandling of Jerry Sandusky. They are:

1.) NCAA has no standing and the sanctions are an gross overreach
2.) NCAA simply had to do something and probably should have enacted the death penalty
3.) It’s BS, but trivial to the mishandling of Sandusky be Penn State employees and really trivial compared to the suffering of children that may have been prevented

I’m in the third camp by the way.

The NCAA, as it did in 2012, is throwing its weight around — this is about POWER and not anything else. In my view the NCAA reduced the scholarship sanctions in order to:

  • Change the conversation about the NCAA — there is a lot of questioning of its role in promoting amateur status while raking in millions if not billions of dollars while the student athletes are getting nothing more than scholarship, room and board, etc. for risking their physical well-being. Johnny Manziel might be pretty excited there is another NCAA issue getting people’s attention too.
  • Remind colleges and universities in the crosshairs that if you just roll over and do what the NCAA tells you, you may get a break if you go along with whatever they propose. Sure, I took all your food away, but if you do what I tell you, I’ll give you some scraps!
  • Takes away the growing sentiment that scholarship reductions put players in the targeted program at greater risk for injury.
  • In a sense, puts the existing Penn State administration and board of trustees in a better position since their compliance to the NCAA yielded something of a return to normalcy. “Hey, playing ball is working, let’s stop fighting.”
  • Undercuts pending litigation against the NCAA by several parties by “giving back” some of what they sought — current students, players, coaches etc. aren’t paying for the price for their predecessors as much.
  • By only giving back scholarships, gives the “move on” crowd some satisfaction, while giving a big middle finger to the “we won’t move on…” crowd who wants wins restored and so on. I dont’ see that happening, but then again, I didn’t see this happening.

In short, the NCAA is better at politics than I thought.

Bowl games may be back on the table, but we’ll have to see about that — Penn State football earns a lot of money for the NCAA and its hard to do that when the program is in shambles. I assign absolutely zero credit for the NCAA’s actions being based on the “right thing to do” when it comes to sanctions, the reduction of etc. I keep coming back to one thing — this is about POWER.

Having seen this happen, I foresee a couple of more half-reversals on previous sanctions:

  • Penn State football wins from 1998-2000 (a total of 23, I believe) could be restored as the program was not yet involved with Sandusky’s really creepy and ultimately illegal behavior. This would probably be more seen vindictive than anything to some parties as it was only a fraction of the vacated wins.
  • A large portion of the $60 million fine that Penn State has to pay to help fight child abuse could be directed to be specifically spent in the commonwealth Pennsylvania. There is a lawsuit insisting that all of it be in the commonwealth, but who know maybe $30 million or more gets that lawsuit out of the way. The NCAA has as much interest in going to court as Penn State does — they expression “they want to make money and not get sued” applies to both institutions.

If there is a lesson here, it is POWER and not rules, is what makes things happen in some many situations. If you have power, use it wisely or you will lose it and somebody or something else is going to use their power recklessly. Specifically, if there is an old man taking kids on campus late on Friday nights and taking showers with them, treat that behavior as extremely suspicious and make sure it gets investigated by police. Use your POWER.. You won’t have to deal with lots of hypocrisy, contradictions, grandstanding, and so on and more importantly HELP SOMEBODY WHO IS BEING HURT.

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