Penn State, Football Culture and the NCAA

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The NCAA crackdown on Penn State is so harsh that a return to competitive football could take a decade if it ever happens at all. But will it “restore the balance between athletics and academics” by changing “the culture of football?” Don’t bet on it.


The nationwide issue is impunity—driven by money—with TV revenues rising and coaches paid more than college presidents. What about athletes who don’t share the proceeds of bowl games and March Madness? Is “amateurism” a hoax? What would real reform look like?


Joe Paterno’s former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky has been convicted of multiple counts of child sex abuse. Former FBI Director Louis Freeh found a culture of excessive reverence for football and fear of bad publicity. With unusual suddenness, the NCAA has imposed a $60-million dollar fine, reduced numbers of scholarships, and a four-year ban on bowl games. And it stripped the late coach Joe Paterno of 111 wins. The penalties on Penn State are unprecedented for the NCAA—and the intent is to go well beyond football.




Warren Olney