Penn State Notes: Joe Paterno Diagnosed With Treatable Cancer And NCAA Hits Low Point In Nittany Lions Investigation
Over the last few weeks, it’s become clearer by the day that the ongoing situation at Penn State is not only the biggest sports story of the last few years, but the biggest news story during the same time frame as well. New layers to the onion get peeled back by the day, and Friday was no exception.
Two new twists came to light this afternoon, one directly relating to the football program, and the other having to do with the school’s former figure-head football coach.
Let’s start with the coach, and start with the most shocking news of all. On Friday, a statement was released by Joe Paterno’s son Scott, which revealed that his father- Division I football’s all-time winningest coach- with lung cancer. It is treatable, and the elder Paterno is expected to make a full recovery.
The AP was the first to break this story, and here are some details from the Sporting News:
Paterno visited a campus infirmary and then a local hospital on Wednesday night for treatment, citizensvoice.com reported, citing an unnamed source.
Paterno, 84, was treated at the hospital but was not admitted, according the source.
Paterno has faced myriad health issues over the years, most recently hip and shoulder injuries sustained during a Penn State football practice. He did not require surgery and Paterno coached much of the season from the coaches’ box.
While the news is surprising in its timing, it isn’t all that shocking in its nature. As the Sporting News mentioned, Paterno has battled a myriad of health and illness problems in the last few years, and at 84-years-old, these things do unfortunately happen.
However, as my colleague Kevin McGuire pointed out, there was an interesting little nugget that came out at Penn State this week, that may or may not relate to this.
As first reported by the New York Times on Tuesday, over the summer, Paterno transferred full ownership of his State College house to his wife, for the total of $1. While many assumed that the move might have been a proactive one with the possibility of the Sandusky charges coming to light, it does make you wonder if it had more to do with health issues than potential legal ones.
Only the Paterno’s know the true reasoning behind the decision, but it is an interesting caveat none the less.
Changing gears, let’s talk about the shattered program Paterno left behind, as news broke on that front Friday too.
That’s because beyond any legal ramifications that certain school administrators may face in the wake of an investigation into former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, there could very well be problems with the NCAA too. Although nothing that has happened at the school seems to fall under the statute of an NCAA violation, it hasn’t stopped NCAA President Mark Emmert from sending out a memo earlier today, which stated that he plans on looking into the school for possible NCAA violations.
From a statement released this afternoon:
Like everyone who has read the grand jury report, we are all deeply disturbed by the alleged sexual abuse of children as well as the alleged response by Penn State officials. After careful analysis of the Association’s institutional control and ethics policies, Dr. Emmert has sent a letter to Penn State President Erickson stating this unprecedented situation demands the NCAA evaluate the university’s accountability with regard to those policies and directing specific questions to the university about its application of NCAA bylaws. While the criminal justice process clearly takes precedence over any NCAA actions, the Association is closely monitoring the situation. Dr. Emmert has also spoken by phone with President Erickson, who has pledged Penn State’s full cooperation with the NCAA review.
Now, let me give you a bit of a warning: If you’re a family member, friend or confidant of Emmert’s (or Emmert himself), you might not want to close out this window, and stop reading right now. I’m going to say some mean things, and this could get a bit ugly. Understand it’s nothing personal, as much as something that I just need to get off my chest.
And that something is this: If this BS statement from Emmert doesn’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the NCAA is most twisted, self-serving, self-aggrandizing fraud of an enforcement organization on the planet, well to be frank, I don’t know what would.
Look, as a general rule, I don’t like to take shots at the NCAA. I’ve worked in this business long enough, have met enough people who understand how this system really works, and educated myself enough to fill in the gaps, to come to an understanding that the NCAA isn’t quite as bad as people make them out to be. The truth is, there are good people working at the organization, and while I don’t agree with all the decisions that those people make, we need to remember that those decisions are made within the narrow jurisdiction the NCAA operates under. In other words, blame the system, not the people who operate the system.
But as the NCAA relates to this particular case, there is absolutely, positively no reason that we know of that the NCAA should be sticking their nose in this mess. None. Zero. Zip.
Based on what we now know, the situation at Penn State is much bigger than football and athletics; it was a systematic failure from the highest levels of the university all the way to the bottom. This wasn’t a problem to do with athletics as much as a problem that loosely involved athletics. Unless the NCAA knows something the public doesn’t, then I can’t see one logical reason that they should even book plane tickets to State College, let alone investigate anything there.
I also find it a bit ironic that the NCAA has chosen now to come ride in on their white horse and save the day. You know, since in the past four months, college athletics has rotted from the inside out, all as Emmert and his buddies have stood along idly twitting their thumbs down in Indianapolis. Meanwhile realignment has ripped Division I athletics apart, with long-standing relationships between schools swept away, while little regard for the student-athletes and coaches has been taken into little consideration, at least not in favor of cold hard cash. And oh by the way, while all this was happening, where was Emmert exactly?
No seriously, I want to know: Where was Emmert? Where was he when Texas tore apart the Big XII? Where was he when Pitt and Syracuse snuck out the back-door in the Big East? Where was he when West Virginia whored itself out to any and every conference that was willing to take them? Where was he? Ultimately, Emmert was nowhere to be found, as school Presidents, conference commissioners and athletic directors ran amok and the enterprise that he was supposed to be overseeing crumbled from within. None of these schools was accountable to anyone but themselves, and the man who was supposed to be leading them wasn’t accountable at all. Forget accountable, even a half-hearted apologetic statement from Emmert at some point might’ve been nice too.
And after all that, after all the negligence and disinterest in things that he was supposed to be overseeing, now Emmert wants to come in and play the role of moral police at Penn State? Why? To prove what? What exactly is he going to do? What does this have to do with his jurisdiction? To be blunt (and excuse my language) we are talking about the sexual assault of small children here, not some football player getting free sneakers or free tattoos. What are Emmert and his minions going to do in State College exactly? Take down some banners? Vacate some wins? Take away a scholarship or two? Because that’s what’s this is about here right? Just as long as we protect the sanctity of amateurism, we can forget about all the alleged victims in this case, huh?
Yup, I went there, and let me add this: If Emmert really wants to help, maybe he can get off his ivory throne and done something for the victims. Because this isn’t about football, this isn’t about NCAA violations, this isn’t about amateurism. It’s about helping out those who truly need it.
Emmert’s trip to Penn State shouldn’t be about “cleaning up” a football program, but trying to heal a community. Instead of coming in and trying to play the role of “good guy” how about the NCAA actually earn that title, take the tiniest percentage of that multi-billion dollar TV contract they signed for the NCAA Tournament two summers ago, and donate a little coin toward victims of sexual assault?
They won’t of course, because that’s not how the NCAA operates. Instead they’ll come in, do an “investigation,” strip some scholarships and maybe put Penn State on probation, then pat themselves on the back, heading down to the local watering hole and order a round of chocolate milks. That’s what the NCAA does; they’re nothing more than a paper tiger.
For anyone who thought that the NCAA’s low-point had something to do with Ohio State, Miami or Oregon this summer, well you’re wrong.
This is it right here.
For all articles, opinions and insights, please follow Aaron on Twitter @Aaron_Torres.
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