07/12/2012 by anjru0805
Eight months and one week ago today, the allegations against former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky became public. In the following days and weeks, we saw the departures of president Graham Spanier, vice president Gary Schultz, athletic director Tim Curley and head coach Joe Paterno. Paterno announced that he would retire following the season but was fired a few hours later. In January, Paterno passed away from lung cancer.
I could have written this post in November or in January but I’m glad I waited until today. Sandusky was found guilty of 45 out of 48 counts of sexual abuse and the Freeh report (released today) shows the full role of Penn State administrators.
According to the Freeh report, Spanier, Schultz, Curley and Paterno didn’t do enough. According to me, that’s an understatement.
Former FBI Director Louis Freeh said:
“Our most saddening and sobering finding is the total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky’s child victims by the most senior leaders at Penn State. The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized. [The officials] never demonstrated, through actions or words, any concern for the safety and well-being of Sandusky’s victims until after Sandusky’s arrest.”
On July 11, a letter from Paterno that hadn’t been published was released by the Associated Press. In it, Paterno rouses his Penn Staters, asking them not to accept what the national media and members of the public have said. He denies that it is a football scandal and the reputation of the university should not be tainted.
The letter reads:
“This is not a football scandal and should not be treated as one. It is not an academic scandal and does not in any way tarnish the hard earned and well-deserved academic reputation of Penn State. That Penn State officials would suggest otherwise is a disservice to every one of the over 500,000 living alumni.”
For the most part, he’s right. The academic reputation of the university should not be tarnished; I know many brilliant Penn State graduates and I think no less of them. The fact that Paterno even wrote “football” once in his entire letter tells me that he’s missing the point. He missed the point for (at least) 14 years.
Paterno defends the university, its graduates, the football program and even himself. I commend him for that. It’s not an easy thing to stand up for what you believe in when the whole world is seemingly against you. Paterno should have stood up for what was right 14 years ago. But this is not, was not and never will be about Joe Paterno. It’s not about football. It’s not about Penn State alumni.
This is about the victims. These children, now young men, were preyed on by a vicious man incapable of seeing right from wrong. Their lives have been changed in a way incomprehensible to you and me.
Spanier, Schultz, Curley and Paterno should have done something. Someone should have done something. But no amount of civil lawsuits, jail time or FBS bowl bans can change what happened. I could have written an entire post criticizing Paterno and I’m sure someone out there is writing one to defend him.
Let’s keep this in perspective and hope that such a heinous act will never happen again.