It wasn't too long ago that fans and media alike were criticizing the NCAA as a toothless bear, incapable of exacting justice on programs such as USC and Auburn for perceived transgressions within their programs. The belief held by many was that the brand name programs who had achieved cash cow status were being allowed to operate outside the lines without retribution. The sanctions handed down Monday by the NCAA changed all of that, and ironically, many now view the NCAA as a power mad entity who are abusing their authority. You don't have to read the Freeh Report to understand why the NCAA handed down the harshest most debilitating penalties in the history of the association. The powers at Penn State inexplicably had refused to acknowledge what happened and once it was exposed, refused to take responsibility. The NCAA was left with no choice but to effect change in the culture at Penn State, because the university was still, even after all that had happened, more interested in protecting their brand than doing what was right.
Ironically, many are discussing the effects these sanctions will have on Penn State as if they have been victimized by the NCAA. Let's not forget, there are 123 other D-1 football schools whose marketable product has been seriously damaged by the actions and inactions of the powers that be at Penn State. This is the biggest scandal in the history of sports at any level, and to pretend it doesn't have at least serious negative financial consequences for every school/team across the country is pretty naive. Truth is, the NCAA owed it to every last member institution to make an example of Penn State, to ensure this type of culture would not be allowed to exist within the structure of any college or university. They had to deliver a message not just to Happy Valley, but to every member that you are an academic institution first, and if you allow your sports programs to operate outside of and above the structure of the university, you will suffer dire consequences that will take decades to overcome. Consequences that will not just destroy you financially, but rip the very heart and soul out of your program.
There is no doubt this message was received loud and clear by every university in the land. For the sake of the sport, the message had to be clear, concise and exact. It was all of that and more. Like it or not, the NCAA got it right this time.