The NCAA "death penalty," as it is know, is when the NCAA finds a school to have lost "institutional control" of a sports program. Basically, the NCAA comes in and shuts down the sports program for a year, the coaches are fired, no games are played, no players recruited, and all scholarships are revoked.
The last time it happens was when Southern Methodist University (SMU) got the football death penalty back in the late 1980's. SMU was something of a non-major conference powerhouse back in the late 70's into the early 80's, not unlike some school like Boise State is today. And the fact of the matter is that SMU never really recovered. They finally got their football program going again, but it has never again really been competitive to this day. As such, the NCAA has been loathe to hand out the death penalty again because it is so severe.
At least with the Death Penalty, it is just one year. You still pick up the pieces for years, but once it is over, it's over. Penn State has been racked for almost a year now in sexual misconduct and molestation actions involving a former assistant coach, who was convicted and will no doubt spend the rest of his life in prison. The scandal escalated because people in the hierarchy, including heretofore beloved Penn State head coach Joe Paterno, were involved in a cover up of an event primarily occurring on the Penn State premises back in 2001, though Sandusky, the perpetrator, was retired at the time and had no official role at Penn State.
The subsequent cover up cost Joe Paterno his job. He died in disgrace a few months later. Most everyone else in the cover up has lost their jobs and are facing criminal and/or civic indictments. So, the NCAA this morning in its infinite wisdom found a way to give Penn State something even worse than the football death penalty.
I am not making light of nor excusing the behavior of the administration, Sandusky, or Paterno in this whole sad affair, but I don't see how punishing the program for something the program itself is not guilty of is justice. Sandusky was no on staff. Paterno knew about it and a few of the other minor coaching assistants did, but the actual program itself is not the guilty party. The administration itself is the guilty party in the cover up. The program itself had no knowledge or nor did it condone what was going on back in 2001.
Taking away scholarships, all from kids who in no way were involved and were in grade school or younger when this event happened is not justice. This is vengeance, plain and simple. Sadly, the vengeance is going to mostly affect players and coaches that had no involvement. Football players, fans, assistant coaches, trainers, and everyone else not involved should not be punished for years to come over something they neither did nor condoned. None of this happened on the field. None of this happened in any official football related meeting or training session. The administration did not lose institutional control of the football team. Penn State did not lose institutional control of its sports program. Penn State lost institutional control of its own administration.
This is not right, and I will neither watch nor patronize another NCAA football game until the NCAA finds a way to remedy this situation in a way that does not affect innocent people, almost all of whom the current punishment does.