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Commentary: Penn State sanctions won't change big-time football culture

So the unprecedented penalties against Penn State are going to change the culture of big-time football throughout the entire NCAA, huh?

Forgive me if I'm not buying it. Even a little bit.

Smart people can disagree about whether the NCAA overstepped its bounds by getting involved with a criminal matter like this, disgusting and harmful as the Sandusky cover-up was, but I'd like to find anyone who believes the "walking death penalty" handed over to Penn State is going to bring about meaningful change anywhere other than (un)Happy Valley.

I mean, other than the hypocrites at the NCAA. The ones who just negotiated a huge-money deal for a "plus-one" playoff system. The ones who allow schools to change conferences on a whim in an effort to make more money. The ones who let schools make profit off athletes' jersey sales, but declare dirt-poor kids ineligible for trying to make a few bucks off their own gear. The ones who allow coaches to change jobs with impunity but penalize kids for leaving after the coach who lured them to a school flies the coop for a better gig.

Monsters like Sandusky could turn up everywhere. And most schools (and most businesses in general) are fiercely protective of their image/brand/reputation. If you think a cover-up of this magnitude couldn't have happened in any other BCS conference, you haven't been paying attention.

Even though concealing a crime is illegal.

Does anybody really think if the threat of prosecution won't deter the act, that a loss of bowl games will?

A win-at-all costs attitude persists. I've seen surveys asking fans if they would trade sanctions (and embarrassment) for an NCAA football or men's basketball title. The majority would. Gladly.

If the NCAA had really wanted to change the culture of big-time sports throughout the nation, it could have. It could have taken much of the financial incentive away. It could have have gotten serious about academic reform. And it could have imposed "term limits" of sorts on coaches, the better to be sure no demigod, above-the-law coach ever again takes over a university.

As it is, "head football coach" will remain the highest paid and most powerful position at most BCS schools, with salaries only escalating when the new TV deal kicks in.

No, there will be no widespread culture change. Except, of course, at Penn State, where the most noticeable (and lamentable, to many fans) will be the Nittany Lions' drop to the bottom of the Big Ten for the foreseeable future. Maybe they will one day dig out and return to prominence, but given how difficult it is to recruit big-time, fast, athletic players from the south and west to remote Pennsylvania anyway, and given how ancient the school's proud history will seem to 2017 high school graduates it may take a generation.

And, a generation from now, you better believe big-time college football will still be out of control and beholden to the almighty dollar. Meanwhile, NCAA honchos will still be talking about changing the culture, even as they cash the checks.

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