I posted this as a response to someone in another forum, but I wanted to repost it on its own as I am very curious to hear what others think:
I'm not a fan of sanctions and penalties after the fact because the offenders are already gone. Besides, like everything in life, it is all about the money. Hit the money if you want to change things.
I'd like to see sanctions focused more like this:
1) The University is responsible for paying back any money earned during the time ineligible players or other violations occurred. In Penn State's case, this would arguably be the earnings from every game, tv contract, and bowl since 2002 when McQuery saw what he did and PSU took no action (NOTE that I said "arguably". To initiate this sanction, the NCAA would need to adopt the position or prove that covering up the scandal provided PSU with a recruiting advantage- i.e. not being known as "child molester U". This is debatable.
In cases where the money is an inordinately large amount, the NCAA could instead levy a fine on future earnings for the same amount of time (ten or so years in PSU's case). This allows for future budget planning since the school knows in advance the funds are not going to be coming in.
Where the fine money would go would be a question to be resolved.
2) Any coach involved is fined a percentage of salary (this percentage should be an established, documented percentage and not a fine determined at the time of the investigation), and is suspended from coaching for the same time period as in which the offense occurred. Reggie Bush receives a house and then plays for two years? Any coach involved is suspended for two years.
The University should also have the right to terminate the contract of the coach(s) involved without any termination payment or buyout. Obviously, this would require that the NCAA mandate universities include a clause so stating in any new contracts, and would not apply to contracts already in existence.
3) Any player involved can be suspended from play, based upon a predetermined, documented list of infractions and penalties.
To me, this is how to stop cheating. Hit the money hard. Number 1 would be a crushing penalty to a University athletic program. Number 2 would be crushing to a coach's career and wallet. If you want to stop cheating, this is how.
BUT the question that would then need to be pursued is to determine what constitutes cheating. The NCAA rules require a definite overhaul, and some hard questions about revenue and players need to be addressed.
Just my two cents.