Should is an interesting word. It derives it’s meaning from shall, and yet it seems to have left shall behind in our common vernacular. We use should far more often, it seems, that we use shall. It reflects almost entirely the value system of the speaker and must be tempered with that in mind. Therefore the perspective of the speaker (or writer) must considered. Often the speaker will preface his comments with, “I don’t mean to tell you how to (insert action), but I think you should (other action).”
This story is all about the should. Penn State should do this. The NCAA should do that. The shoulds are flying out of everywhere. So let me weigh in on what I think the parties should do.
You know from where I come. I think the NCAA has historically done things backwards by punishing the innocent far more harshly than punishing the guilty who often times go unpunished at all. When was the last time the NCAA sanctioned a sitting president of a member school? I can’t be sure, but I suggest the next time it happens will be the first. You also know that I have been of the opinion that Joe Paterno was so embedded into that school that there was nothing that went on that he didn’t know and active act upon, or choose not to. Turns out that a great deal of the rest of the administration, including trustees and Paterno himself, actively decided to allow Jerry Sandusky to go unpunished and unimpeded in his quest of abusing boys. I won’t go so far as to say the school even facilitated it, but I am not sure that argument couldn’t or won’t be made.
Here’s what I think Penn State should do. Remove all references to Joe Paterno and any other high level administrator from the school’s history. Names off buildings. Remove statues. Strike the record book. Remove all trophies and banners. Make it as if the Penn State football program never existed from the day he was hired until Joe Paterno resigned. Penn State needs to pay some pecuniary retribution, although how much is unknown. It should be a devastating amount, at least equal to the football revenues for a set period of time. You pick the amount of time. It should just about wipe out the coffers.
Here’s what I think the NCAA should do. Nothing. This is about sports only because the people involved were involved with sports. I certainly think that the NCAA should be a recipient of a large chunk of that retribution, but I also certainly think the NCAA should avoid its usual habit of punishing the innocent. Kids who grew up wanting to play sports or merely attend a football game at State College, ought to be able to do so, if they still want to after this mess.
The question then becomes, what if Penn State refuses? Then I think the Department of Education (if there still is one) or the Department of Justice and any state authority in Pennsylvania must act. Revoke a charter if need be. The school needs to come clean, and if it refuses, then it should be shut down completely.