Penn State University was hit hard by the NCAA this week for its institutional failure to prevent former assistant football Jerry Sandusky from molesting young boys on campus.
It was a just penalty, in our view. It was harsh, though some feel it should have been harsher. It was justified, though there are others who feel the NCAA is stepping outside its jurisdiction, which is to assure fair competition in college athletics.
There are some who called for the "death penalty," or a full suspension of Penn State's football program for a year. This would have punished too many who had nothing to do with the Sandusky situation, especially the players who will be taking the field this year. The program will suffer enough with a four year ban on bowl games, a $60 million fine, and a severe cutback in scholarships. Joe Paterno's legacy has been hurt by stripping 111 of his victories, from the past 14 years when he reportedly knew about Sandusky's problem and did nothing except protect the university.
Penn State will undoubtedly suffer in enrollment and fundraising as well.
It may take years to rebuild the school's reputation. It can do so by accepting its penalty, and by focusing on its academic programs, instead of football win-loss records. It must emphasize ethics and integrity in all its dealings.
There is a great lesson in the Penn State scandal for all to learn. Protecting one's reputation by hiding one's faults never really works.