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Penn State and Paterno Truthers: "It's All About the Student-Athletes" Edition

Following up on my column today at PhillyMag, I'd like to address one issue that keeps coming up from critics of the NCAA sanctions against Penn State:

I'll quote a Penn State friend: "None of the student athletes who are currently at Penn State were involved with the Sandusky mess, very few of the coaches who are currently there were around during that time, heck- some of the students weren't even BORN yet. So why are they the ones being punished by the NCAA's overreaching?"

That is, to my mind a bit of a canard. There's not a single person on the team, at this point, who didn't choose to be there knowing the sanctions in place. Penn State is on its second coach since then; every player who was on the team at the time was allowed to transfer without penalty; every player who remains on the team or who has joined since knew what they were getting into . They are not victims.

(This argument, incidentally, means that there should never be NCAA sanctions, because every punishment ends up affecting student athletes who weren't present at the time of an offense. That effectively means institutions can't be held accountable for breaking the rules by their employees.)

It's also why I'm skeptical about the "it's for the student athletes" stance that so many Penn Staters present. The student athletes made their choices, eyes open. The institution, however, is still paying a price. I think, all told, that's appropriate.

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Why isn't there a "dislike" button?

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