The NCAA sanctions against Penn State are unprecedented and perhaps deserved. However, the gesture from the NCAA still fails to address how the NCAA itself played a part in the Penn State Hall of Shame scandal. The NCAA has done nothing to change its own internal culture which encourages wins at all cost, looks the other way when administrators or coaches fail to do the right thing, discourages parents and students from speaking up and explains bad decisions as simply “following the rules”. If following the rules discourages one person from speaking up, punishes one student athlete improperly, or allows bad behavior, then those rules are flawed.
Does stripping wins from a dead coach or fining a school $60 million dollars do anything to change sports culture? Coach Paterno died having felt those victories, having been revered for over 20 years and with his winning record intact. Penn State officials who looked the other way or failed to act still enjoy large pensions and salaries and the NCAA sanctions appear to do nothing more than punish current and future Penn State students and athletes for something they had no ability to control. The sanctions imposed by the NCAA do little to change sports culture and fail to accept responsibility for how the NCAA contributed to that culture.
NCAA President Mark Emmert said Penn State had put “hero worship and winning at all costs” ahead of integrity, honesty and responsibility, yet Mr. Emmert fails to acknowledge that the NCAA did, and continues to do the same.
NCAA, CIF and CCS are the gatekeepers of high school through college sports culture. For over 20 years we have seen CCS Commissioner , Ms. Blaser, construct a culture here on the Central Coast that mirrors that of the NCAA . The culture has become one where student athletes are denied opportunities, stripped of victories and forced to pay a price for adult behavior that is beyond any student’s control. CIF has allowed Ms. Blaser supreme authority over thousands of student athletes, but has failed offer transparency to ensure that Ms. Blaser herself has acted properly. If Ms. Blaser cannot demonstrate she follows the rules herself, then how can she demonstrate she is qualified to shape sports culture for high school athletes?
We anxiously await a time when the NCAA officials will stop imposing rules that serve only to harm the very athletes they are charged to protect. We look forward to a day when student athletes will find integrity and character in those charged to protect them. We look forward to the day when someone at the top will stand up, speak up and make a difference to change sports culture for the better.