After further review, the ruling still stands … sort of

This is not an apology.
From time to time, we all need to take stock and review ourselves. No one is reminded of this more than journalists, especially those who write opinions.
Many readers wrote in after I wrote a column advocating the death penalty for the Minnesota basketball program. Those in agreement were in the minority.
Despite what many of you implied, I read all those letters, and took most of your criticism to heart. Many of you made valid points, some I hope to address in this space.
I won’t, however, revise my opinion. I stand behind what I wrote. That said, many of you misinterpreted what I wrote.
First, the death penalty, when referencing collegiate athletics, does not mean anyone actually dies. It means the program is shut down for a year. It is the final punishment, the harshest the NCAA can give.
No team not on probation has ever been given the death penalty, and I honestly didn’t believe it would happen in this case. But that has nothing to do with whether or not it should have. Here, the real world is conquered by philosophy.
I don’t think the current players should have to suffer any more for things they had no control over. Unfortunately, that’s the way things work with the NCAA. If none of the innocent suffered, no one would ever be punished. Here, philosophy loses out to the real world.
I wrote in my original column, “..they haven’t done anything to make things better.” Do not take this literally. Obviously, the players are working hard to put this scandal behind them, and, I believe, to make things better.
It’s the team’s image that hasn’t gotten a lot better. In the interest of clarity, that’s what should have been written. The combined effect of Joel Przybilla’s departure and Mitch Ohnstad’s dismissal from the team still leaves the program with a public relations problem.
The current basketball team was understandably upset after the column appeared in print. They have been unfairly left to deal with a situation they didn’t create.
So let’s be clear: If the right people knew what was going on, this program would have been shut down a long time before anyone who now plays got here.
The NCAA didn’t take my advice on everything, but they did take some drastic, yet necessary steps. The banners came down. Most of the ill-gotten money will be repayed. Best of all, no one named Clem Haskins will be coaching anywhere any time soon without begging the infractions committee first.
Evidently, the NCAA didn’t agree with my assessment of the internal sanctions. They sided with President Yudof, who repeatedly called the penalties “meaningful and appropriate.” Maybe they are. Maybe we’ll have to agree to disagree.
There will be a basketball season in 2000-01. The team will be allowed to compete for a spot in the post-season. The chance to compete, all an athlete can ask, has not been compromised.
Fans will be back in The Barn for a brand new season of Big Ten basketball. Folks in maroon and gold will cheer the players. The team will win some games and lose some games. Of all this, I am certain.
What I’m not sure about is the ultimate legacy the scandal will leave for Minnesota as a whole to deal with. Will the “Do your homework!” chant reappear this season? Probably. Will it fade out over time? Probably.
Will it ever hurt any less for Minnesota players, coaches and fans? Yes.
But the tendency to “put this all behind us” should be watched. The current players understandably want to forget. But we all need to remember. If for no other reason, than so no future teams must pay the price for a former coach and/or players’ transgressions.

Josh Linehan is the sports editor and welcomes comments at [email protected]