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Penn State football needs a time out

The NCAA will 'examine' Penn State's loss of control over its sports program following the sex and coverup scandal. But the NCAA needs a robust solution to break the culture of sports dominance in colleges.

A father and son play with Penn State apparel on display in Rapid Transit Sports in downtown State College, Pa. The unfolding Penn State child molestation scandal has slammed the university's reputation, and part of the immediate fallout is economic. Purchases of hats, shirts, and other items emblazoned with the Penn State name have plummeted 40 percent overall compared with the same period last year.

(AP Photo/Andy Colwell)

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The NCAA has finally sent an official letter to Penn State – two weeks after news reports of the school’s sex scandal and alleged coverup broke.

The letter only begins to hint at how much college sports in general needs a timeout from its dominance in many schools as a money machine and recruiting tool that distorts the moral purpose of higher education.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association says it will “examine” whether Pennsylvania State University lost “institutional control” over its total athletics program – and not just the Nittany Lions football team of dismissed coach Joe Paterno.

But what might the NCAA end up doing to deflate what its president, Mark Emmert, calls the “power of enthusiasm” toward college sports?

Should Penn State, for example, be banned from major-college football for a year to help the school gain needed perspective on the role of sports in academia?

Should it be barred from this season’s bowl games?

And what would send a message to the school without hurting current athletics?

The NCAA has been on a reform kick in recent years following a surge of scandals in college sports. But nothing compares to the alleged cover-up by Penn State officials after they learned of allegations against former defense coach Jerry Sandusky for molesting eight boys.

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