I agree with you that the vacated wins penalty is mostly meaningless — except perhaps in one aspect. Wiping all those wins from the record books means that Joe Paterno will no longer officially be the winningest coach in NCAA football history.
I don’t mind seeing Paterno lose that honor. But it seems a bit silly to pretend that all those wins didn’t happen. I don’t think Paterno’s moral failings on the Sandusky case had much affect on his win/loss record. (Maybe avoiding a big scandal back then helped him recruit a few more star players — who knows — but that’s a stretch.) Since Paterno’s wrongdoing didn’t have anything to do with directly trying to cheat or gain an unfair advantage on the field, I think the “vacated wins” penalty is a mostly empty gesture.
I would have liked to have seen Penn State’s football program shut down for at least four years. It seems wrong that they will continue to rake in as much as $20 million in ticket sales TV money each year. That fact alone makes the $60 million penalty laid down by the NCAA seem woefully insufficient.
How can anyone watch those games and cheer for that team when the knowledge of what happened to all those children in that school’s locker room is so fresh in our minds?
Penn State should have shut down the program voluntarily. Or the NCAA should have forced them to do it. The current players, who had nothing to do with the scandal, could have transferred to other schools. The NCAA could have extended those players an extra year of eligibility. Let the program go dark for a few years and then you we would have had a penalty that was truly punitive — that no university would ever forget.
I’ve read opinions from plenty of sports writers who actually think the NCAA’s penalties went too far. I don’t think they went far enough.