By Ben Sullivan
It is hard to be completely objective about the scandal that was uncovered at Penn State in November 2011 — the awful crimes perpetrated by former coach Jerry Sandusky against young boys.
And, similarly, it is hard to be objective about the hideous NCAA and its monumental overreach as it punished a great university.
Only stupid Will Bunch, who blogs for a living at the Daily News, was worse when he called for the break-up of the Penn State System.
Followed by his chum Keith Olbermann, who is still beating the drum that Penn State and the late, great Joe Paterno (photo above) are the “worst people in the world!”
But one of the silver linings in the whole mess is that it is unmistakable that we are watching and living through the last days of the NCAA as a serious governing body.
Since it can’t even govern itself.
It was said in some quarters that Penn State scored a “great” and “complete” victory after the NCAA, an organizing body in full retreat, announced it was restoring 112 victories to the football program under Paterno.
The NCAA had, in 2012, forced the school to vacate those wins as part of sanctions handed down in the Jerry Sandusky child-abuse case.
Sandusky, a former Penn State assistant coach, was convicted in 2012 of 45 counts of sexual abuse and is serving a 30-to-60-year prison sentence.
NCAA president Mark Emmert, in a power overreach so extreme it should have resulted in shoulder surgery, bypassed due process and unilaterally condemned Penn State to a series of draconian sanctions.
Emmert forced the school, faced with the worst scandal in sports history, to capitulate on all fronts as it faced national shame, scorn and horror.
That power play continued its recoil on Friday as the NCAA returned the victories that allowed Paterno to become major college football’s most winningest coach again, with 409.
The NCAA caved in advance of a trial, on the legality of the sanctions, that was set to begin in weeks.
It marked the latest in a series of NCAA give backs in a continuing show of its weakened state, as the governing body faces mounting lawsuits and coroding credibility.
Emmert so botched the Penn State case by acting, not as a president, but as a czar, he ultimately undermined his own intentions.
Emmert’s penalties included a four-year bowl ban, a $60-million fine, the loss of 80 scholarships and the vacating of victories since 1998.
The action was so over-the-top it prompted lawsuits from the Joe Paterno family and the state of Pennsylvania.
This put the NCAA in the position of having its process examined under oath, which maybe wasn’t going to be pretty. It might have revealed how the NCAA coerced a Penn State confession, or exposed factual errors in the investigation conducted by former FBI Director Louis Freeh.
The severity of sanctions also inspired the family of Joe Paterno to fight like Nittany Lions for the legendary coach’s reputation.