Penn State Football deserves whatever punishment comes their way. Whether that's the death penalty or not, they deserve the worst that could be thrown at them.
However, that doesn't mean the NCAA has the authority, competency or legal right to impose such a penalty. The NCAA bylaws mostly involve specific rules which can't be broken. Rape isn't in there. There are governmental bodies responsible for managing that area.
There's a more squishy / grey area of "ethical integrity" violations and "culture of compliance" related issues. But really those clauses were designed to address the rule book around cheating. Not crimes against persons. PSU clearly had ethical issues and chain of command/governance/compliance processes, but is this really an area where the NCAA should insert itself?
The NCAA is a governing body with no clear outline for consequences related to any violation. One school's violations to punishment ratio has absolutely no bearing on another school's actions or punishment. That's the governing body we want inventing punishments for rules that don't exist in their bylaws? I say no.
I say no because if they insert themselves here, then their span of control and power is forever expanded into areas we can't even project.
To further compound matters, the NCAA doesn't want to give PSU the Death Penalty. The Big Ten doesn't want that. The restaurant, bar and hotel owners of Happy Valley don't want that. It doesn't help the rape victims. It doesn't discourage any rapist from raping anyone in the future, and it doesn't punish Paterno, Spanior, Sandusky, etc.
Yet something has to be done. Something is expected to be done. A pound of flesh is demanded in sacrifice, and University administrators (which make up the governing body of the NCAA) are notorious for knee jerk reactions.
My brother's suggestion...which I completely agree with...is simple. PSU should self-impose that all wins from 2001 (when the second known incident began) be vacated. That would bring Joe Pa's victory total down by 87 games. It would place him below Bowden obviously, but it would also place him one below Bear Bryant. His legacy would take the needed hit. Plus, the program and former lettermen would lose their Big Ten and Rose Bowl related legacies.
To add to my brother's suggestion...the school should also have to forfeit all bowl proceeds from those years with payments made to charities designed to protect children from predators like Sandusky. That would be a financial penalty in the $30-40 million range for the Athletic Department.
That payment combined with the $15-30 million the University and Athletic Department will end up splitting in payments to the victims via civil court should be enough to slow down PSU's football recovery a little.
(NOTE: PSU's football program generates roughly $70 million in revenue per year. So $50+ million in penalties is nothing to sneeze at.)
The NCAA would probably accept that with no further punishment. Additionally, it would take them off the hook for dishing out a punishment they absolutely don't want to issue. Maybe adding 10 years of probation on go forward basis would make sense, too. That way PSU doesn't take any short cuts to return their former "glory."
Also, if the US Department of Education wants to get involved with PSU for violations of The Clery Act, that's fine by me, too. Same thing if the American Association of Universities (AAU) has the bylaws to address PSU's on the academic front, then so be it.
But the Death Penalty for Football? I just don't see how the NCAA has the authority to deliver that blow. Particularly to a school not already on probation.