The NCAA will impose a ban on post-season football games for Penn State because of the failure of the athletics department to fully investigate, report, and act on the child abuse allegations against former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. This part of the NCAA penalty is well within the power of NCAA and is a legitimate use of the association's disciplinary functions.
But NCAA also seems to think it is now a court of law in that it will impose a fine of $60 million on the taxpayers of Pennsylvania via Penn State's budget to pay for external programs to help child abuse victims in general but not the specific victims of Sandusky. Note NCAA is a little vague about what it will be specifically used for except that it must be for programs outside the university. It is doubtful this part of the NCAA penalty plan is a proper use of the association powers.
Finally, NCAA will also set it self up like the Ministry of Truth in George Orwell's novel 1984 in that they will try re-write history by erasing Penn State and Joe Paterno wins from their record books back to 1998. Well they can alter their own NCAA records for their own record book purposes but they cannot re-write history and change scores of games played years ago and that part of the sanction is NCAA being frivoluous even if in a good cause of making an example of Penn State failures.
NCAA too often in the past has played the role of busy-body-in-chief for college athletic programs and ventures into silly areas far outside of its original purpose as it did with the University of Illinois mascot. But in this case, NCAA is probably more in the right than it is in the wrong because Penn State should be made an example for its failures to deal seriously and severely with Sandusky in a timely manner when the first reports of child abuse came to the attention of officials.
However, NCAA is not a court of law subject to rules of evidence, a jury of peers, and cross examination, and there are now matters regarding Penn State that are likely about to be litigated in real courts and that is the right place to resolve the issue of a fine, how it would be administered, and for exactly what purpose. The NCAA confusion on its own purpose and powers reminds me of a similar confusion on the part of the NFL when it tried to insert itself as if it were a law enforcement agency into the matter of contracts to injure NFL players paid to players of the New Orleans Saints. Sport associations should understand what their charter allows them to do and should be careful not to exceed their authority even if in a good cause as in the case of NCAA vs child abuse at Penn State.