Were the sanctions against Penn State appropriate?

While they are understandable on an emotional level, the sanctions do not make sense.  Every decent person abhors what Sandusky did and the cover-up that followed.  Sandusky had been a coach in the football program and the head football coach and his superiors engaged in the cover-up.   Some of the molestation took place at the football facility.

Nevertheless, the acts themselves had nothing to do with what happened on the football field.  Penn State did not violate any recruiting rules.  It did not play kids who were ineligible to play.  It took academics seriously and graduated a high percentage of its football players.  Nothing that has anything to do with this tragic affair contributed one whit to Penn State’s success on the field.  If Penn State officials had acted absolutely properly and turned Sandusky in the moment they heard about him the results on the field would not have changed one iota.

For the life of me, therefore, I cannot understand the logic behind taking away the wins from years that Sandusky was not coaching, and did not contribute to the success of the program.  Doing so penalizes all of the players who fought hard and honestly to achieve those wins and who had nothing whatsoever to do with Sandusky or his crimes.  These players have done nothing wrong.  Why are they being punished?  The punishment going forward, banning from bowl games and championship games and such, make somewhat more sense so long as the NCAA allows the current players and recruits to go elsewhere without penalty (as it has done).  Of course, Sandusky richly deserves his criminal punishment.  Those who helped him cover up his crimes may deserve criminal punishment as well.  Paterno deserves to have his statute taken down (though at some point I do think we will come again to acknowledge that the good he did for Penn State at least partially offsets the evil he had done here).  Penn State deserves to pay a large fine.

But why take away the wins?  It’s like saying that because a former teacher committed a crime, and the principal and superintendent covered it, up we are going to take away all the A’s earned by all the students during the years of the cover-up.  What do you think?  Can you explain this logic?