The Joe Paterno statue is gone, and the healing process is just beginning at Penn State. What's next for the Happy Valley community? (AP)

The Joe Paterno statue and the players once depicted behind him are gone, but the fallout from the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal continues. (AP)

 

On Monday, the NCAA announced its punishments for Penn State’s role in the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal. They include a $60-million fine, a four-year bowl ban, significant scholarship cuts and the removal of all Nittany Lion victories from 1998 to 2011 from the record books.

The scope of the NCAA’s sanctions have been discussed and debated all week. Pete Thamel of the New York Times was in Indianapolis for the NCAA’s announcement, Los Angeles and Las Vegas this week and got a wide spectrum of opinions on the NCAA’s decision.

“The most uniform reaction was a lot of empathy for [head coach] Bill O’Brien, who clearly did not see this happening when he took over Penn State,” Thamel said. “My take was: it’s so hard to get caught up in NCAA minutiae when what happened at Penn State happened.”

One option that was widely discussed before Monday’s announcement was the “death penalty,” but Thamel says he thinks suspending the PSU football program would have too much impact on other schools.

“The problem with the death penalty and why I really don’t think we’ll ever see it again …  is the unintended consequences that reverberate all through college sports,” Thamel said.

Penn State opens its 2012 football season against Ohio University. In a common college football practice, Penn State is paying Ohio to face them in a non-conference game. Thamel cites that as one example of a school that could be hurt if the Nittany Lions’ season was canceled.

“That’s going to fund a good chunk of Ohio’s [athletic] budget this year,” Thamel said. “So if you give them the death penalty and wipe that game off the books, all of a sudden you’re hurting Ohio women’s soccer.”

A man who says he was the boy Jerry Sandusky abused in a Penn State shower in 2001 announced Thursday that he plans to sue the university. Thamel said that suits like these could cost Penn State hundreds of millions of dollars.

“That university’s large endowment is going to take a giant dent because of their responsibility for what happened.”