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Penn State scandal likely to rock basketball program, too

Presswire

Monday, the Penn State football program was heavily punished for their handling of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal.

As a result, the football program may never return to the glory that it once had. Heck, it may never return to a level where it can at the very least compete on the gridiron in the Big Ten.

But whatever the fate of the football program, this is a story that will cause white-capped ripple effects across the school's entire athletic department.

Take CBSSports.com's Gary Parrish's anecdote during his time spent this past weekend at the Nike Peach Jam tournament. Bumping shoulders with a number of recognizable head coaches, Parrish couldn't help but jot down his thoughts when he sat next to Nittany Lions assistant basketball coach Eugene Burroughs and saw the Penn State logo embroidered on Burroughs' polo shirt.

I looked to my right and realized I was beside Burroughs. The first thing I saw was the Nittany Lions logo on his shirt and I immediately thought of Jerry Sandusky, child rape and the subsequent conspiracy to cover-up that led us to this historic day in college athletics.

...

NCAA and Big Ten didn't penalize Penn State basketball in any way this morning, and it should be noted that hoops had nothing to do with the criminal activity that took place on campus. But I couldn't help but think while standing there that night that if the first thing I think of when I see a Penn State basketball coach is this Penn State scandal, that's got to be what most basketball recruits think of, too.

While Parrish is a grown man, understand that even kids just old enough to turn on a television or call up an Internet browser are ready to cast the school in a negative light.

Starting now, everything you thought about Penn State, and what their logo represents, has likely shifted to sex abuse, and it will likely be a sentiment that proliferates until further notice. As our youth grows up, the thoughts of how previous generations perceived Penn State will be replaced with something far less pleasant.

"Football has carried this university for years," Nittany Lions men's basketball coach Pat Chambers told Jeff Goodman. "Maybe we can help football for once."

That's positive thinking, but Chambers went on to say that while on the recruiting trail this summer he's approaching the mess head-on.

"We talk about it with recruits and if it becomes a problem, then maybe that's not the right kid for our program," Chambers added.

I hate to be negative, but expect the latter from many players Chambers recruits if they have absolutely no existing connection - whether it be a family legacy or proximity to Happy Valley, Pennsylvania - to the school.

Don't call it a penalty, call it a horrible stigma. An unfair negative connotation that will indefinitely play in the minds of high school basketball recruits that Chambers and his staff pursue, recruits will likely be reluctant to accept a scholarship to play a sport at a school that was home to arguably the greatest scandal in the history of sports.

It's going to be a tough task for Chambers. Let's see how it gets handled.