07/23/2012 07:07 pm ET | Updated Sep 22, 2012

The Penn State Penalties Are Justified


The penalties imposed by the NCAA on Penn State effectively end the university's tenure as a major football power (as well as removing Joe Paterno from the top of the list of collegiate coaching victories). The pundits' opinions I have seen are running against the punishment at a rate of two or three to one.

Then, of course, there is the Paterno family's "we are the Paterno's" outrage at the decision, as though they were a major player in the aftermath of the discrediting of their father.

More to the point are the pictures circulating of the surprise, anger, and chagrin among the Penn State student body when they heard the extent of the penalties.

These pictures in themselves justify the decision. They indicate that there has been some impact in informing these kids about what is important in life -- and that is not Penn State's continued dominance in college football. Ahead of that consideration are moral justice and the removal of football from the pantheon in which it has become enshrined on campuses, to be replaced with an appropriate humanity and horror at what has knowingly been wrought on the Penn State campus by the university's most powerful figures -- and perhaps even state higher-ups, like Governor Tom Corbett.

It may be too much to hope that any due consideration will be given to imposing effective gun controls that might prevent disturbed people from acquiring assault weapons and endless rounds of ammunition following the shootings in Aurora, Colorado. But perhaps the punishment will be a real step towards making University leaders and students aware that they are responsible for acting in the legal, moral, and academic interests of their schools and of society, rather than catering to their most rabid (perhaps "deranged" is a better word) football fans. Only then will major universities become academically and socially conscious places, rather than appendages of their football programs and servants of their coaches.