5 Lessons From The Penn State Sanctions, Jerry Sandusky, and Joe Paterno


I just read the news that Penn State got one of the harshest penalties the NCAA has ever given out. This is all due to the fallout and revelations from the molestation conviction of former coach Jerry Sandusky, and the universities attempt to conceal or ignore it.

While watching ESPN, I heard one analyst say these penalties hits Penn State’s past, present, and their future.  And it hits them hard!

The punishment

If you are unfamiliar with this story, go to ESPN and watch until you can take no more.  Here are some of the penalties Penn State football program received: vacate of all wins from 1998-2011, 4 year ban from postseason competition,  $60 million fine, probation and the loss of scholarships.  I believe there are lessons in this for all of us.

5 Lessons of How Bad Choices Can Affect Our Past, Present, and Future.

  1. Out of order priorities are costly.  Penn State appeared to put winning football games above all else.  Keeping in tact a program and culture that produced wins was at the forefront, even to the point that lives were hurt and crimes were committed.  The bible teaches us to “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”  The things Penn State was looking for (wins) would have been added to them anyway.  Now 13 years worth, 111 wins, have been stripped.  Joe Paterno went from the #1 winning coach in college football to #8.  Jerry Sandusky, who molested those boys, retired in 1998 so he had zero wins removed.
  2. The good done is overshadowed.  Joe Paterno was one of the most iconic football coaches, if not the most iconic.  When you think of Penn State, you think of Joe Paterno.  When you think of NCAA college football, you think of Joe Paterno.  Penn State gave him one of the highest honors by building a statue of him on the campus.  This statue has now been removed. In a matter of 72 hours or so, Joe Paterno lost almost all of his good legacy.  The process started earlier, but in a very short period of time it has all been removed and will forever be overshadowed by his “new legacy.”
  3. Those connected to you are hurt.  For the next 4 years Penn State’s football team cannot play in any postseason bowl games.  That means any player on their roster cannot win a championship.  That is the highest level, the pinnacle, and it is not possible for players on their current and future roster.  They had nothing to do with it.  Our choices can be devastating for even those that had nothing to do with it.  In addition the legacy of Joe Paterno is damaged and his family is left to deal with it.
  4. Quality of life is affected.  Penn State was fined $60m, which is the equivalent of about one year of revenue for football program.  Wow!  This is like someone taking every single dollar that you earn for the next year.  You work, and your money goes to someone else without question. This will mean the quality of the program may suffer due to the lack of revenue.  The very livelihood of this football program is affected and impacted forever.
  5. Unlikely that you will reach that level again.  Penn State will lose numerous scholarships over the next four years, which means they will lose the opportunity to get the top level players that they have been accustomed to.  This is huge, and will severely limit the possibility to build their program back to the level of success that it had been before.  It may never happen.  This affects the student body, the alumni, and everybody connected.  When these sanctions are finished Penn State’s football program may be a shell of it’s former self.

Like the analyst said, these sanctions affect Penn State’s past, present, and future.  The reach and the amount of people impacted by these are disproportionate to the individual that committed the crime and the small group of people that had the chance to report or even stop it.  Yet, I am certain the victims feel it can never be enough.

We have choices in everything we do.  Every single one of our choices will have consequences. When you make choices today, think to yourself, what type of consequences can result from this.  Then choose wisely.

Question: Do you think the sanctions Penn State received were too harsh, or not harsh enough? Please share in the comment section below.



Jul 23, 2012