January 11, 2013

The Jan. 8 editorial “The problem at Penn State” took the governor of Pennsylvania to task for initiating litigation against the NCAA over its overly punitive sanctions in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

The Post editorial countered that the NCAA’s punishment (including a $60 million fine, a four-year ban on bowl appearances and a significant reduction in future football scholarships) was justified, given the finding of the Louis Freeh investigation that “the prominence of the football program” has resulted in a tail-wagging-the-dog mentality at Penn State. In other words, the entire culture of venerating college football set the stage and, thus, the imprisonment of Sandusky, the humiliating firing of coaching legend Joe Paterno (now deceased) and the summary dismissals of the athletic director and university president (who now faces criminal charges) are somehow insufficient deterrents to coverups.

This line of reasoning maintains that the legions of Penn State alumni, fans, students and their families were, by their very adoration, complicit in the egregious misconduct of the principals and deserved an extended stay in the NCAA’s woodshed to send the right message. This reproof seems strange, coming from a newspaper that regularly places Redskins developments on its front page and, on the morning after the Redskins’ recent playoff defeat, chronicled the event with no less than 10 articles and columns. That outpouring was followed, on the very day of the Penn State editorial, with eight Redskin articles or columns on the aftermath of that defeat and the controversial handling of the quarterback’s injury (not counting Eugene Robinson’s op-ed on the topic or the three Redskins-related letters adorned by a glistening photo of the iconic RGIII).

Ken Barry, Vienna