Should Penn State Get the 'Death Penalty'?

After the investigation into the cover-up of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal at Penn State, some analysts believe that the university's football program should be temporarily shut down.

"If they play football come September, at Penn State, something's wrong," sports newscaster Bob Costas said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press."

The investigative report, conducted by former FBI Director Louis Freeh, showed that top officials at Penn State, including Head Coach Joe Paterno, were aware of assistant coach Sandusky's crimes, but chose to keep them a secret to protect the football program from an embarrassing scandal.

Sandusky was protected, Costas said, because of the power of Paterno.

"Eventually, over time, he built up such power, that there was no oversight."

If Sandusky were a sociology professor and Paterno were his department chair, Costas analogized, the incident never would have happened, because a sociology department chair does not have enough influence to keep university leaders from contacting Child Protective Services.

Costas believes that the current Penn State leaders should suspend the football program for at least a year. But if they do not, he believes the NCAA will suspend the program, an action sometimes called the "death penalty."

In a panel discussion on ABC's "This Week," conservative columnist George Will argued that division I college football has an inherently corrupting influence on college campuses and stands in opposition to the mission of a university.

"We have grafted a multi-billion dollar entertainment industry onto higher education," Will said, "it is inherently discordant with the mission of the university, it is inherently corrupting. You're going to get this, and elsewhere, different forms of corruption, but always forms of corruption, because big time football has no business on college campuses."

Democratic strategist James Carville, though, strongly objected to giving Penn State the "death penalty," calling it a "really dumb idea."

"Lives have been ruined, so the answer to it – let's go out and ruin more lives," Carville complained.

Current players, vendors and hotel owners would also be impacted by a football suspension, Carville explained.

Costas responded to this criticism by saying, "there's always collateral damage when justice is meted out," but there are ways to limit that damage. Current players, for instance, could be allowed to transfer without having to wait a year to play or their scholarships could be extended a year.

ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd, a Catholic, compared the situation to the sex abuse scandals in the Catholic Church.

"If you took Jerry Sandusky and ... put the word 'priest' and ... Joe Paterno and substituted the word 'bishop' – it's the exact same thing. What you have is an institutional, corrupt, problem. Basically, the end of the institution becomes more important than the people involved."