Dylan Ratigan Show   |  November 14, 2011

Punishing Penn State: What should the NCAA do?

In light of recent events, should Penn State’s football program receive the death penalty? The Nation’s Dave Zirin joins The Dylan Ratigan Show to discuss.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> to the ncaa itself, however, those are the people who rule college sports , where are they on all of this? the powerhouse organization is still deferring to the cops for any statement. but think of it this way. a football program that violates recruiting rules is punished. the whole football program. but what about a program that does nothing to stop the alleged rape of young boys ? we bring in dave zirin , sports editor at "the nation." dave , some have called for the death penalty for penn state 's football team . we have certainly watched innocent teaming were or seemingly innocent teams throughout the history of the ncaa and college football or basketball hav annihilated because one player or a few players took some money. so there's certainly precedent for collateral damage if the ethics have been breached when it comes to taking money. where's the ncaa on the ethics for child rape ?

>> well, the ncaa is nowhere on the ethics of anything. it is not an ethical organization. it's an organization where the president, mark elmert, makes $2 million a year and has 14 vice presidents , each of whom make $400,000 a year, and it's all built on the basis of revenue-producing sports, particularly basketball and football. it's a violation to serve bagels to recruits and have cream cheese . if you don't have cream cheese , it's not a violation, if you do have cream cheese , it is. yet there's silence on this. and it speaks to an issue, dylan, you've been discussing on your show for several years with regards to wall street and the banks. penn state and joe paterno became too big to fail. too many people had a vested interest in his legend. and that meant cover-up. that meant, at all costs, the fiction of joe paterno 's penn state had to survive and allegations of horrible, horrible child abuse had to be hidden. at the same time, in this instance, the ncaa is the custodial body in which all players play. if you want to play football, not just at penn state , but at any of these schools, you have to comply with ncaa rules. at the same time, those rule makers appear to have no voice, at least at this point, on an issue that is one of the most disturbing, i think, that any of us have witnessed in recent history.

>> that's because they have no more authority. and you see this when mark emmeret, when he gets interviewed, he tends to wither in the face of the questions, like, how is it the players are in violation if they trade their own jackets to be able to get some money so they can go home to see a parent? shouldn't there be some sort of ethics about players get some kind of money if nike or reebok is paying the school hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars, and players don't see a cent? and you see emmeret's face redden and wither in the face of this, because it's essentially not a moral argument. if you -- this is what i imagine a true rule enforcement body would look like for college sports . imagine a room of like 40 lawyers, each of them make $40,000 a year, they're trying to ferret out violations, they're trying to enforce a moral code . that's one vision. but instead you have the vision i described for, people who make six and seven-digit salaries and making it on the basis of unpaid labor. all of it goes to the very structure that underpins the very scandal that you saw at penn state . and i think that's what scares us at penn state . we see things like money under the table, maybe players traded their championship rings for tatt tatt tattoos. then you ask the question, how far would a school really go? where is the moral line? and at penn state , you see what we thought was the moral basement actually does not exist. and it's much even further below than we think. and that's going to happen when you have a school like penn state that produces over 60% of the revenue, the football program does, for the entire institution.

>> yeah. and that is the sad and very harsh reality. the beautiful thing, and i'll wrap this up, dave , that we are encouraged, i think, but the fact that we can begin to have this conversation and start a path towards resolution, not only of the banks that are too big to fail, but also of the ncaa , which maybe in our metaphor will be the federal reserve , perpetuating the large institutions. dave , we'll talk