By Christine Brennan
Early in his damning report on the reprehensible behavior of Joe Paterno and other Penn State officials, Louis Freeh writes: "It is up to the entire University community - students, faculty, staff, alumni, the Board and the administration - to undertake a thorough and honest review of its culture."
That starts with shutting down the football program, at least for a year, perhaps longer - right now.
Harsh words, certainly, and heartbreaking for the young men who are at Penn State now to play the game, but if the school is truly serious about addressing the atrocities that occurred in its football complex by its so-called leaders in the name of big-time football, it must stop playing football and contemplate college life in Happy Valley without it. Everyone in the Penn State community needs to stop thinking about the game and start thinking about the awful things that happened at the school because of it.
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If Penn State doesn't do the right thing and immediately shut down the program itself, the NCAA should step in and do it, perhaps in concert with the Big Ten Conference, of which Penn State is a member. This is an extraordinarily awful incident requiring strong and willful leadership and decision-making. What happened at Penn State is the worst scandal to ever occur in an athletic department at a U.S. university. It must be treated as such. SMU's football program received the so-called death penalty decades ago for sports-related improprieties. This is worse. Far worse.
Penn State and the NCAA should allow players to immediately transfer to other schools and play this fall. If they wish to stay, they would retain their current eligibility when the football program resumes.
As for the once-squeaky-clean image of the late Joe Paterno: If there were any doubts about this prior to today, there should be none as of this morning. Paterno should be seen first and foremost as the willing enabler of a convicted child molester, and never be held in high esteem at Penn State or around the country again. The statue of him on Penn State's campus should come down today. He won a lot of football games. He graduated a lot of football players. But his reputation is ruined, and there is no one to blame for that but Joe Paterno himself.