A "death penalty" in this sense would mean the end of Penn State's football program. Execution of the hyperbolically termed punishment includes far more than loss of TV revenues for a few revolutions around the sun.
The university will be punished. The athletes will be (are being) recruited by other schools. The half million alumni will continue to support the school. But let's be real here. As the article implies, sanctions will be temporary. A program can't be consigned to "death" for a few years. Cut the inflammatory language and call it what it will likely be, an extended suspension. The NCAA doesn't have the balls -- or the resistance to lobbying efforts -- to knock Penn State off the conference map for good. It will never happen.
Penn State is a fine university with a messed up "cult of coach" personality just like many other DI schools. Its reputation is tarnished, but like any Hollywood star with a bad habit, expect it to emerge triumphant again in a few years. The public is overwhelmed with news and twisted marketing and will collectively agree by 2015 that whatever punishment is applied right now is time served. Move on. Get them back in the game. And the public will celebrate their return to the field. Seriously. Just watch. It's going to happen.
Except for sensationalist reporters, Paterno's name will not be mentioned on air by 2016, a year after they return to prime time. And don't bet on them in your college football championship pools until at least 2017. Only then will Penn State have recruited a new batch of uber-eager high school seniors to begin its rebuilding phase.
In my opinion, this is not an isolated incident. We haven't seen the last of this, tragically. Keep an eye on major, unexpected personnel changes at the coaching level this fall. I suspect there will be a few.