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Friday, July 27, 2012

Will Penn State Scandal Change College Sports?

A banner celebrating the 44 bowl games that the Penn State football team has played in hangs outside of Beaver Stadium on the Penn State University main campus in State College, Pa. (AP)

State Farm will pull its advertising from Penn State football broadcasts, and General Motors may follow. The news is significant because corporate advertising is the life blood of big college football. And it means the final cost of the Penn State’s cover-up of child sex abuse by convicted assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky could go well beyond the $60 million dollar fine and other penalties imposed this week by the NCAA.

But will all this lead to any real change in the governance and oversight of college sports? The scandal at Penn State is the latest and perhaps the most shocking indication of a college sports system in need of reform, but it is by no means the first.

Historian and author Taylor Branch, who wrote a much-talked-about cover story for The Atlantic last year titled “The Shame of College Sports,” doesn’t think the NCAA penalties will restore a proper balance between college academics and big time college sports.

“Penn State is losing big time, yes. But $60 million dollars is revenue from one year,” Branch told Here & Now‘s Anthony Brooks. “They are not even considering telling Penn State they can’t be on TV, which they used to do, because now that revenue has skyrocketed to such a degree that it would cripple Penn State. They’re going to be able to get over this…in time. The bigger problem here is that the remedies here pretend to get at the structure of college sports while really telling everybody that this is an isolated problem, extreme human failure at Penn State not likely to be repeated.”

Guest:

  • Taylor Branch, historian and author of “The Cartel: Inside the Rise and Imminent Fall of the NCAA”

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Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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