Commentary

PSU sanctions severe but justified

Updated: July 24, 2012, 8:23 AM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

NCAA president Mark Emmert Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesMark Emmert and the NCAA acted swiftly in handing down sanctions for Penn State.

NCAA president Mark Emmert didn't waste any time. He acted swiftly and firmly with the decision of the NCAA, and he certainly should be praised for that.

In the past, NCAA rulings and decisions on punishing institutions usually took a lot of time. The amount of time that lapsed before a ruling was made was frustrating. That was not the case here, with the penalties coming out shortly after the comprehensive Freeh report.

The punishment is obviously severe. The school was hit hard with a $60 million fine, a loss of scholarships and a four-year bowl ban. Penn State cannot play in the Big Ten championship game for four years. The wins accumulated from 1998 to 2011 were wiped out from the record books. Current players will be eligible to transfer right away.

I felt that the penalties were justified considering what happened at Penn State over the years. Covering up the abuse of young people was inexcusable, when so many could have been saved from that monster Jerry Sandusky. It would have taken one brave person to speak up instead of ignoring the criminal action of Sandusky.

Think of what he has done to the victims and to the university. It is a tragedy to the youngsters whose lives have been affected. There should be accountability for the former leaders, men who showed no guts whatever. Names like Spanier, Schultz and Curley failed miserably in their handling of the situation.

Then there was Joe Paterno. I thought he was a stand-up guy, a person who represented all. He was supposed to be all about integrity, but that was not the case. He had a chance to be a real hero, a real winner in the game of life and not just on the football field. He blew it big time. If he stood up loud and clear, he would have had an even bigger statue. Now, his legacy has been ruined, and rightfully so.

Innocent kids were hurt because of the inaction of many in charge.

The NCAA has sent a message that it will not be tolerated. Some consider this worse than the death penalty. I do not agree with that because the program will go on. It will survive somehow, some way, because of the university itself.

Sure, recruiting will be tough over the next few years, but Bill O'Brien is being paid well to handle adversity. He knew there would be penalties when he accepted the job. O'Brien will do the best he can with what he has.

You can count on the vultures coming out. That is the world of recruiting, my friends. Players who transfer out will be eligible immediately, and you cannot blame a kid who wants to play for a conference championship, compete in a bowl or play for the national title. None of those will happen at Penn State.

Many will say bye-bye to the blue and white and move on in their careers. Other schools will be receptive to adding those players who want out of State College.

Those who remain will play with passion and pride. They will represent the university in a strong way. Now you will find out about the strength of the fans, alumni and supporters, how they handle this tough, tough time.

This will be a challenge, and this university is special. Don't judge it by the actions of a few that brought down so many good people.

The verdict is in. It is time for Penn State to move forward for the future.

Dick Vitale

College Basketball analyst
Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.