Since I am an Alabama guy, let me make this example as indictment of the NCAA and collegiate sports in general. In the late 90's, the Alabama program was contaminated by a few rogue boosters who were doing everything from the relatively harmless $100 handshake to more severe stuff like money laundering through a guy's car dealership in Memphis.
In the Alabama case, the NCAA went on a 5 year witch hunt to get anyone and everyone involved (even though none were graduates of the university and there was no concrete evidence that any coaches were actively involved). The NCAA treated the minor offender just as severely as the top cheaters in the bunch. As we all know, Alabama got hit and hit HARD! 5 years probation, loss of many scholarships, etc.
The NCAA actually gave Penn St. about the same if not less of a penalty than Alabama for looking the other way when CHILD MOLESTATION was going on IN THEIR FOOTBALL FACILITIES and the sexual predator was at one point AN ACTIVE MEMBER OF THE COACHING STAFF and the rest of the time a FRIEND OF THE PROGRAM with keys which allowed him access anywhere he wanted to go in the athletic facilities. Not only were these facts, but the HEAD COACH AND SCHOOL PRESIDENT HAD KNOWLEDGE OF THE CLAIMS and an ASSISTANT COACH WALKED IN ON ABUSE IN PROGRESS!
In the Penn St. case, the NCAA investigation was not nearly as hot and heavy. While they interviewed those involved and did a little work, it was nowhere near the hundreds of hours of interviews that went on in the Alabama case which involved some idiot boosters and not sex offenders.
This is the problem. The NCAA has rule book 4 inches thick about what is and is not permissible. However, they do not have penalties set out as clearly and therefore you get this ridiculously non-level reaction when penalties are handed down. I think we all agree that cheating is wrong...but on the same level or less than sexual abuse? The NCAA has to stick to their guns here or Alabama, USC and everyone else could cry out for getting wins back. Perspective.