The Penn State Scandal and the Outsize Influence of College Sports (Opinion)

Tim Goral's picture

At Northwestern University, there's an almost alarmingly clear distinction between athletics and academics. While the school continues to rise in the ranks of higher education, including being named as one of the nation's "New Ivies" by the Wall Street Journal last decade, the athletic program has plodded along at a slower pace.

The football team and men's basketball teams have made the postseason four years in a row, a school record for each squad. However, the football team remains without a bowl win since the Polk administration, and the basketball team has never reached higher than the NIT.

What's remarkable about all of this is that Northwestern is part of the Big Ten, one of America's power conferences in many collegiate sports. NU pales in comparison to dominant programs such as Ohio State and Michigan football or Indiana basketball.

But what's struck me the most about this situation is that while Northwestern maintains that distinction between athletics and academics, Penn State University, another Big Ten school, completely blurred those lines, leading to one of the greatest scandals in sports.

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