July 25, 2012

I HAVE TO AGREE: What Is A Vacated Win?

I don’t understand why the NCAA did not cancel the Penn State football program for the foreseeable future (i.e. give it the “death penalty”), perhaps for several decades. That seems like a logical way to move forward after the heinous and disgusting events. Penn State football games should be out of the public eye for a long time.

Instead, the punishment is spiteful, confusing, and Orwellian. Fines, lost scholarships — fine. Forcing the school to vacate wins? What exactly does that entail? The AP ran a Q&A on this issue that does not clarify much. If the school cannot claim the wins in the record books, what about Larry Johnson’s rushing yards or LaVar Arrington’s tackles? Did they still happen?

It is creepy, Orwellian and — I strongly suspect — a means of not punishing the individuals most deserving of punishment. But then, it’s the NCAA.

UPDATE: Reader David Mosier writes:

Q: What Is A Vacated Win?
A: The only way to keep Joe Paterno from being the winningest football coach in NCAA history. That’s why they did it. No other way to deprive him of the title.

I don’t think this really changes things. But reader John Bragg agrees:

It’s a way to poke the eyes of Joe Paterno’s cultists, an act of sacrilege. The statue comes down, the Great Man’s achievement is erased from the record books, all that is sacred to the Church of JoePa is profaned.

The courts will punish those directly worthy of punishment. The NCAA is concerned with those who made it possible for the guilty parties to operate unchecked–those who made the football team bigger than the university.

Paterno did the profaning. And he did it knowingly. But I’m not sure rewriting history is the answer.