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Joe Paterno Statue and the Death Penalty for Penn State University

The latest million dollar questions surrounding Penn State are “Should the Joe Paterno statue be taken down?” and “Should the Penn State football program receive the death penalty?”  The “death penalty” is the popular term for the NCAA’s power to ban a school from competing in a sport for at least one year. It is the harshest penalty a school can receive.

Should Joe Pa's Statue come down?
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The only time the death penalty was given out was in 1987 when the NCAA determined  Southern Methodist University paid players from a slush fund provided by a booster and the athletic department and university officials were aware of it. The penalties included the cancellation of the 1987 season and all home games in 1988. (The school decided to cancel the entire season) along with scholarship limits, the banning of certain boosters, and bans on TV and Bowl appearances. This was so severe that SMU did not retrun to a Bowl game until 2009.


The difference between what happened at SMU and Penn State was that SMU violated NCAA regulations. Penn State may have broken the law.  The Freeh report points the finger at Hall of Fame head coach Joe Paterno, President Graham Spanier,Athletic Director Tim Curley and Vice President Gary Shultz. For “failing to protect against a child sex predator harming children for over a decade.


Although we now have more insight as to what Joe Paterno knew and when did he know it. The report is not conclusive. Paterno’s family is not only contesting it but wants to do their own investigation. Spanier’s attorneys say the report doesn’t tell the whole story.

Curley and Shultz are awaiting trial on charges accusing them of lying to a grand jury and failing to report abuse. They have pleaded not guilty. If these men are convicted in a court of law of failing to report abuse, you have conclusive proof. Then you have no other choice to but impose the death penalty. I mean, what more could a university do to earn it?

According to the U.S. Dept of Education College Affordability Center, Penn State at $15,250,  holds the number one spot for tuition at a 4 year public institution. There are people at Penn State who wouldn’t mind seeing the football program go. More than you may think.

As for the statue,  Trenton Times columnists Jeff Edlestein, filling in with me for Deminski and Doyle, read a tweet on the air from Albert Brooks  which said”They will leave the Joe Paterno statue up, but they’re going to have him look the other way”

No matter the outcome, you have to take the statue down because no one will ever portray Penn State in a good light whenever they look at it.

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