When It Came to Penn State’s Punishment, the NCAA Got it Just Right

When It Came to Penn State’s Punishment, the NCAA Got it Just Right

David Gebler & Donna Boehme – August 2, 2012 – The Huffington Post

In the wake of the Penn State child abuse scandal, many in the media were outraged by the NCAA’s decision to instantly vacate the university’s win record from 1998 through 2011. As two ethicists with a combined 40+ years working in the trenches with organizations and their cultures, we’d like to offer the opposite view: the NCAA got it exactly right.

Former FBI agent and assistant U.S. attorney Louis Freeh was unflinchingly stern toward Penn State’s “culture of reverence” for legendary coach Joe Paterno, his coaching staff, and the entire football program in his detailed 270-page independent report. Culture is a dramatic influencer of behaviour for better or for worse. While each individual is personally responsible for his or her actions, the culture we’re immersed in determines how hard it will be to maintain our integrity, and whether our human vulnerabilities will drive us to do things we’re not proud of.

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