Let me begin by saying something as clearly as I possibly can.
I know that just the premise proposed by the title of this piece will put a target on my head for comments to tear me apart. And I expect that.
I'm a father of two little boys, age 5 and 19 months. I cannot fathom someone doing to them what Jerry Sandusky did to his victims, and believe there's a special place in both jail and hell for people that prey on innocent children. What that monster did makes me sick to my stomach.
What also makes me sick is what we've learned in the last 24 hours through the Freeh Report about the institutional trainwreck that took place in (Not-So) Happy Valley to cover-up his crimes. It's pathetic, disgusting and a disgrace to anyone that calls themselves a leader, teacher, or even a man. For all the great things that Joe Paterno did to make that university what it has become today academically, it will all forever serve as a footnote on the greatest failure of his life.
But I have some concerns when I hear the phrase "death penalty" being used in reference to the football program (no comment on Sandusky's punishment).
Reality for Penn State is pretty simple: the (filthy dirty, corrupt, disgusting) football program is paying for the entire athletic department at the university. If the NCAA slams the door on the football team, they would effectively bankrupt the (lying, deceiving, manipulating) athletic department.
While the numbers aren't yet available for the most recent school year, we can access the financial records of the university from the 2010-11 year (through the US Dept. of Education's Equity in Athletics site). Here's what we learn:
- Penn State's football program made $72,747,734
- Penn State's football expenses were $19,519,288
- Penn State's football profit for 2010-11 was $53,228,446
Those are some big numbers. To wrap them in some context, when Forbes published their rankings of the most valuable college football programs, Penn St. ranked third behind only the University of Texas and Notre Dame.
Now consider these numbers:
- Penn State's total athletic revenue was $116,118,026
- Penn State's total athletic profit was $31,619,687
I'm not going to be confused for a math teacher any time soon, but the last time I checked 53 was significantly bigger than 31, especially when six zeroes followed each number. But to be a little more specific, roughly 62 percent of the total revenue generated by the athletic department at Penn State came from the (awful, putrid, pathetic) football program.
What we're learning from these statistics is that the football team paid for the baseball, wrestling, softball, women's field hockey and both men's and women's track and field, basketball, volleyball, swimming and diving, gymnastics, lacrosse, soccer and fencing teams to operate at a loss of over $20,000,000.
There were 884 student-athletes during the 2010-11 academic year at Penn State. Only 121 of those were football players.
If we take the numbers one step further, the total revenue for all sports at Penn State other than football and basketball (men's and women's) was $9,029,777. The total expenses for all sports at Penn State other that football and basketball (men's and women's) was $20,053,422. Once again, the numbers aren't working out well.
Penn State is going to pay for what they've done from a financial perspective. Again citing Forbes:
Patrick Rishe, a Forbes contributor and Professor of Economics at Webster University, estimates that Penn State athletics stands to lose $20 million to $30 million in the long term as a result of the Sandusky scandal. Rishe also suggests that the loss of alumni contributions and game-day income may cost the football program $5 million to $10 million each year... It seems almost certain that Penn State’s reign as a top-earning program is coming to an end.
This is going to be a painful time for the Nittany
Liars Lions. What was once a nationally recognized beacon for athletic excellence done the right way has now been stained by the lack of character, judgement and souls from the most powerful and prominent men in the school.
I listened to a lot of sports talk radio on Thursday. Every caller and most of the hosts made a very valid point: this scandal is absolutely a football issue that cannot (and should not) be separated from the football program or the institution.
But the one part of the issue that everyone is ignoring is the trickle-down impact of taking the football program away from the school. Even for one or two years, as the NCAA did to SMU in 1987.
The NCAA has been forced to come down hard on some other high-profile school recently. USC was hit with major sanctions that they are just getting past this fall. Ohio State felt the burn of the NCAA after the Jim Tressel scandal. And the hammer hasn't yet dropped on the University of Miami for perceived institutional failure.
Again, let me be clear: what took place at USC, Ohio State and Miami are raindrops when compared to the ocean of failure that took place at Penn State.
A booster giving money to players isn't OK. And not being honest with the NCAA about players getting free tattoos or a federal investigation surrounding one of their acquaintances isn't a good ideal.
Covering up a pedophile to save face is a different level of wrong.
But my thoughts are for the 763 student-athletes that were participating in a sport they loved at the highest collegiate level because the football program that everyone is now spitting on and cursing at paid for them to do so.
The NCAA must address the issue and the university; saying this matter isn't specifically breaking any rules in the so-called Manual is a joke (in poor taste I might add).
Take away scholarships. Take away postseason eligibility. Hell, take away the statue of Paterno.
But don't take away (what's left of) the money that's paying for hundreds of kids to get an education they might not otherwise be able to afford.