Biddle's Beat: Wed. July 25, 2012 - WKRN News 2

Biddle's Beat: Wed. July 25, 2012

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There has been a lot of money passing hands this week.

Locally, we saw the Predators pony up $110 million to be paid to defenseman Shea Weber over the next 14 years, even though if Weber plays out the length of the contract, he will do so using a walker.

Nationally, the NCAA made Penn State cough up $60 million as part of one of the heaviest punishments ever doled out by the ruling body of college athletics.

The Predators were backed into a corner. The Philadelphia Flyers got Weber to sign an offer sheet. The Predators had to match dollar for dollar to keep him in $mashville.

Meanwhile in Happy Valley, the NCAA ravaged the Nittany Lions football program. Their myriad of penalties will negatively impact that program for a decade, perhaps longer.

Legendary Coach Joe Paterno went from memorialized as Mr. Penn State to having his statue outside Beaver Stadium taken away and put in storage. Fortunately, Paterno has passed away before he had to endure more humiliation and damage to his image as one of college football's all-time legends.

The penalties were about what was expected. They had to send a strong message that the child sexual molestation cases involving longtime football assistant Jerry Sandusky should not have been covered up by Paterno, then athletics director Tim Curley, vice-president Gary Schultz, in charge of campus police. Curley and Schultz are facing criminal and civil trials. Former President Graham Spanier denies knowledge of a cover-up but he, too, could face future charges.

But I have a problem with punishment that affects current football players, some of whom were children themselves when Sandusky's demonic assaults on young boys first came to light.

Yes, any current player can choose to leave Penn State, transfer to a school of his choice and gain immediate eligibility.

But that's not why they selected to play at Penn State. If they leave, they leave behind the school they gave blood, sweat and now, tears, for. If they stay, they will be playing with two hands tied behind their back.

They lose 10 scholarships a year for the next four years. They have to have a cap of 65 scholarships, while their opponents will be allowed 85. That is a huge difference. It means the coaches can not afford to make a mistake on a recruit, which is impossible.

The players have to suffer being linked to a program that allowed a pedophile on its staff to destroy the lives of innocent boys, boys from broken homes who were helpless to cry out for help.

Paterno and those above him on the chain of command could have put a stop to this madman. Instead they retired him from coaching and handed him the keys to an on-campus office, gave him access to the locker room where Sandusky assaulted his victims in the shower.

They even gave him a reserved parking spot on campus. They might as well have sent him an invitation to commit those most heinous of crimes.

Paterno is dead. Sandusky will never see the light of day outside prison.

But the current players and coaches must pay for the sins of others and nothing about that is right.

It's a major flaw that the NCAA is guilty of committing over and over. By the time they investigate and punish the guilty party, the coaches flee the scene and innocent students are left behind, having to compete against heavy odds.

Let's assume the $60 million will go to organizations the NCAA intends it for, to help stop others like Sandusky. They are out there. Everywhere. Their demented deeds don't need to be covered up. They need to be exposed to bright daylight where everyone can see what monsters they are.

So while Happy Valley weeps for the victims, for what is left of the football program and for the great university whose reputation is sullied, Predators fans are basking in the news that the NHL franchise is no longer one of the league's little brothers.

It made an undeniable statement by retaining Weber. They mean business.

Contact Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at joebiddle11@gmail.com.

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