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Patrick Hruby

The End of Penn State Football?

The Atlantic sports roundtable on the Freeh Report and the nuclear option

According to the Freeh report, Penn State didn't just allow Jerry Sandusky to molest and rape young boys -- school officials including former football coach Joe Paterno actively covered up Sandusky's sexual abuse.

In this week's Atlantic Sports Roundtable, we debate a simple question: is it time for Penn State to drop football?

Patrick Hruby: ... Some observers think the NCAA should punish the university's football program for a lack of institutional control, perhaps levying the seldom-used "death penalty." Right idea. Wrong executioner. I say leave NCAA sanctions—lost scholarships, television bans, blah blah blah—out of it, and just shut down the team altogether. Permanently. The lesson of the Freeh report isn't just that Paterno and others didn't do enough; it's that everyone else loved Penn State football too much. Loved it so much it became a totem, an identity, an entire culture. Not just a game. Not just a silly diversion. Something people were far too afraid to cross. Something people remain far too afraid to lose ...

Jake Simpson: ... despite the morally bankrupt conduct of the university's most powerful officials for nearly 13 years— conduct that caused me to belt out some very angry writing for this site yesterday—Penn State should not shutter its football program, nor should they be forced to. Doing so would only punish a huge swath of people that had nothing to do with letting Sandusky be a predator for so many years. The men directly responsible for Sandusky's reign of terror—JoePa, former president Graham Spanier, former vice president Gary Schultz, and former AD Tim Curley—are all going down. Paterno's dead, Curley and Schultz are facing criminal charges for their actions, and charges against Spanier are likely to follow. Shutting down Penn State football will not hurt these men in any way—jail and the inevitable passage of time should take care of that ...

Hampton Stevens: ... The statue of Paterno should be torn to scrap and melted. Every football field on campus ripped up and the earth salted. The kids who are there now can finish school or transfer. As for the students who'll miss those great college football afternoons, tough. Otherwise, it'll happen again. Maybe not at that school. And maybe next time it won't be child molesters. Maybe at the next school it will be a coach selling HGH, or addicted to cocaine, or running a prostitution ring out of his office. Whatever. It'll be something bad, because we're sending the wrong message. Basically, we're sending no message at all. Society doesn't punish wrongdoing merely to exact justice. Punishment, whether jail time, fines or dismantling a poisonous institution is meant to be a deterrence against future sins ...

Read the full article at the Atlantic online