Dear NCAA: You forgot about the victims in Penn State decision

Dear NCAA,

Did you forget something Tuesday?

When you originally decided your unprecedented punishment for Penn State’s football program, you seemed to grasp the atrocities that happened in State College. You seemed to understand that a university president and a football coach prioritized a game over the health and safety of young boys.

You told Penn State it wasn’t acceptable. By throwing down sanctions that would completely demolish the football program, you told everyone else it wasn’t acceptable.

But you seemed to forget that Tuesday when you said you were too harsh and decided to start giving back scholarships early.

You decided it was more important to let the Nittany Lions be good at football than to show administrators that football shouldn’t be prioritized over the health and safety of young fans.

This wasn’t like Penn State was paying athletes or giving them illegal benefits. It wasn’t like Penn State had willing girls lined up to make sure recruits had a good time on campus. It wasn’t like the administrators were covering up a few football players smoking pot. It wasn’t like they let a basketball player have someone else take his SAT, so he could stay on campus for a year before heading off to the NBA.

Penn State was willingly ignoring the sexual assault of young, underprivileged, at-risk boys to win football games. The school decided not to report a pedophile to keep playing a game without any penalties.

The saddest part of it is that people are flocking to support you for going back on your word — a word you handed down with a higher purpose in mind than merely causing a football program to struggle. The Big Ten announced its support for your decision to lessen the penalties just hours after the announcement. University presidents, chancellors, athletic directors and other officials have come out in support of your decision.

You succumbed to their peer pressure.

NCAA, I realize you’re scared because it seems like your stranglehold on college athletics is headed toward an end.

You have been called out for taking advantage of athletes. You have been charged with exploiting a monopoly on college sports. You have taken a lot of flak for your handling of various disciplinary situations — people saying you’re too harsh, people saying you’re not harsh enough.

NCAA president Mark Emmert said Monday that “a lot of change” is coming to the NCAA.

If this is the change, count me out.

I understand where you’re coming from. But I don’t understand how you can forget the little boys who just wanted to look up to the football program, until they were destroyed by it. How can you forget the reason you sent such an emphatic message?

These punishments for the football team may not have been popular. But they were justified.

And your actions Tuesday undid all of that.

Sincerely,

Johnathan Hettinger

Johnathan is a junior in Media. He can be reached at hetting2@dailyillini.com. Follow him on Twitter @jhett93.