Jonathan Zimmerman: NCAA Lawsuit has Dark Logic

Roundup: Historians' Take

Jonathan Zimmerman teaches history at New York University and lives in Narberth. He is the author of "Small Wonder: The Little Red Schoolhouse in History and Memory" (Yale University Press). He can be reached at

OK, Pennsylvanians, let's see a show of hands: How many of you were harmed by the NCAA's sanctions against Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal?

Gov. Corbett says you were, so he's suing the NCAA, which slapped a $60 million fine and a four-year bowl ban on Penn State last summer. Corbett initially accepted the sanctions, but he changed his tune last week, arguing that the penalties "irreparably harm the citizens and the general economy of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania." But Corbett's suit doesn't provide a single piece of evidence to support that claim.

What the complaint does suggest is something much darker: that a Sandusky-style atrocity could have occurred at any number of football-worshipping universities that make coaches into idols. In an attempt to exculpate Penn State, Corbett has actually indicted us all....

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