Another weekend yielded another horrific potential development in the Penn State/Jerry Sandusky scandal.
CNN reported that former Penn State President Graham Spanier e-mailed colleagues that he was afraid the school could be “vulnerable” for not reporting an allegation of child abuse involving Sandusky, but ignored the needs of the most vulnerable, and failed to go to authorities.
Spanier’s decision to keep quiet was reached after receiving the input of athletics director Tim Curley, who indicated he’d been “talking it over with Joe” as well.
As disturbing as the possibility that late head coach Joe Paterno was more involved than he led investigators to believe was the fact that in the series of e-mails, Penn State officials referred to alleged victims as Sandusky’s “guests” and to Sandusky himself as “the subject.”
This has renewed the debate as to how the NCAA should handle the Nitanny Lions football program in the wake of what appears to be a clear case of lack of institutional control. Would scholarship losses be an appropriate punishment? A bowl ban? The death penalty? Should the NCAA be involved at all?
Remember that what happened at Penn State happened because certain individuals acquired too much power, and the culture there was too insulated. So the ideal punishment would strip the athletics department of some power and make the community less insulated and more open to outside forces.
So why not, for the next 50 years, give the NCAA the final say every time the school hires a new AD or football coach?
It is unlikely the NCAA would use this veto power frequently, if at all. But it would make the university think twice before handing the reigns to someone whose job qualifications include being born and raised in State College and who played quarterback for Joe Pa.
Rather than (or even in addition to) a bowl ban that would last maybe two years, or scholarship reductions that would play out over three or four years, this punishment would be a repeated reminder over the course of the next five decades that this can never be allowed to happen again.
It would serve as a subtle check on the “football über alles” ethos that pervaded at Penn State.
And if Penn State administrators feel like they are being treated like children, well, there’s an element of justice to that.
QUICK UPDATE: I’ve been getting this question a lot on Twitter, so to answer: No, in my opinion this idea of having the NCAA approve Penn State’s hires should not be the extent of their punishment. Just an element of the discipline handed down.