Earlier today, the NCAA announced that it would be reducing some of the sanctions levied against Penn State University for the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Predictably, there were very mixed reactions to the news. Also predictably, one fan base in particular was not happy at all with the news — the supporters of the University of Southern California.
Of course, USC was hit hard by NCAA sanctions in 2010 — the school received a two-year bowl ban and lost 30 scholarships from 2011-13, among other punishments. The sanctions stemmed “a lack of institutional control” that “struck at the principles of amateurism” from 2004-2009, when the school committed a number of violations across multiple sports. But USC fans felt that the sanctions were too harsh, particularly considering they were levied very much after the fact — so why didn’t the NCAA reduce the Trojans’ sanctions in the same way that it did Penn State’s?
USC athletics director Pat Haden chimed in today:
I asked USC AD Pat Haden about the Penn State decision. He forced a smile and said, “I’d love to have some scholarships back.”
— Pete Thamel (@SIPeteThamel) September 24, 2013
I can see where Haden and USC fans are coming from on this, but quite frankly, it’s apples to oranges. USC’s violations benefited its athletic programs and were essentially cheating. Penn State’s “violations”, on the other hand, were absolutely despicable, but they weren’t an attempt to gain an edge on teams across the country. So it made sense that USC’s athletic programs got punished, while in Penn State’s case, a university punishment, such as the $60 million fine that goes to support child abuse programs, makes much more sense.
I think the NCAA got this one right, at least the second time around.