Since the report on the Penn State/Jerry Sandusky scandal was released, I, like many folks, have asked myself a question: What, if anything, should be done to the football program?
Many are calling for the NCAA to impose its "death penalty," to suspend the football program, that anything less than that would be a hollow gesture. After all, if Southern Methodist University was given the death penalty in the 1980s for a recruiting scandal, how can Penn State not face the firing squad for the cover-up of child molestation?
On the other hand, some say, why should an entire program, an institution, its fans, coaches, players, alumni, students, faculty, et. al, be forced to pay for the mistakes of a handful of callous, black-hearted leaders? How can this be in the realm of the NCAA? After all, it's not like these guys cheated at football.
No, but they cheated. They cheated those boys out of the chance at a normal childhood. They cheated them out of their adulthood as well, by dooming them to life as victims of child molestation and rape. The Penn State officials and Joe Paterno, by systematically covering up the heinous crime of child rape -- in their own facilities, for God's sake -- cheated a number of young men by giving them a lifetime of emotional and psychological trauma, all for the sake of a football team and a university.
These institutions are supposed to build young men, not tear them down, mold their minds, not mutilate them.
Paterno and his ilk, by making the conscious decision to look the other way and to put the university and football above the well-being of children, made a sickening statement: That Penn State and its football program are more important than any individual, more important than the safety of children, more important than the rule of law or any code of ethics.
If these actions don't deserve the ultimate punishment, I don't know what does. And if the NCAA doesn't lower the boom on Penn State, then it, too, is a guilty conspirator after the fact.
Strip Paterno of his victories, at least back to 2001. At least remove them from his record if not the school's. Remove his name from buildings, positions and awards, and tear down his statue. And make Penn State stop playing football. Let Paterno's legacy no longer be that of winningest coach, but that of a coach who killed his own team and forever tainted his university by placing its welfare above that of children.
Now that we know his attitude in building it, what Paterno made at Penn State can only be considered an abomination. Tear it down, and let it stay torn down for awhile. Then make them start over.
Anything less only adds to the travesty.
Email Nate McCullough at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears on Fridays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/natemccullough.