It's not the "death penalty," as some people were expecting, but the NCAA came down hard on the Penn State University football program.
The Nittany Lions were punished by NCAA president Mark Emmert with a $60 million fine, a four-year ban from bowl games, and had all of its wins since 1998 vacated. The latter ruling negated Joe Paterno's all-time coaching wins record.
The so-called "death penalty" would have prevented the university from any football activity. Although that was not the ruling, Penn State's football program will certainly be compromised for the next several years.
These sanctions stemmed from the recent Freeh Report, which determined that Paterno and other "higher-ups" at the university knew about Jerry Sandusky's sexual abuse of children and did not report it. This all comes a day after Paterno's statue was removed from the Penn State campus.
There have many different opinions about the ruling. Many people believe the ruling was too harsh and that innocent players are being punished. Other people thought that anything less than the "death penalty" would not do justice to Sandusky's victims.
Nate Smith, head football coach at Morgan High, is sort of in the middle.
"It's such a tragedy that happened to all those victims," Smith said. "I think something had to happen. There was such a lack of control with those in charge. My concern is with the incoming athletes that are being punished because of the reckless attitudes of those in charge. They really have to pay for what the president, V.P., and coaches did."
When asked if the "death penalty" would have been unfair, Smith said "Yes, the death penalty would have been too much."
Chris Miller, a lifelong Penn State fan and recent Marietta College graduate, believes the NCAA did what it had to.
"I think what they did was pretty fair," Miller said. "I know people are upset about taking the wins away and that the players had nothing to do with it, but (the NCAA) had to lay down the law. I think what they did was right."
While agreeing with the decision, Miller was disappointed that some of the team's recent success is now tainted.
"For Penn State, 2005 was one of the best football seasons I watched," Miller said. "They lost to Michigan towards the end of the year, but were Big Ten and Orange Bowl champs. It was a great season and they had so many great players. It's hard to believe that all those wins are now vacated, but I think they did what was necessary."
It will be a long road back to glory for Bill O'Brien, the 15th head coach in Penn State history, and his Nittany Lions. Given the bowl bans and the limited scholarships, it will be hard to attract high school players to the school, as we've already seen a number of recruits back out of commitments.
Hopefully, though, no matter the win total, the team will be able to put everything behind it and rebuild the character and honorable tradition that it held for so long.
After all, as we have learned with the Sandusky scandal, some things are bigger than football.