I spent a good part of the day reflecting on the Penn State scandal that has rocked the proud university to its core, and shaken college football fans and non-fans alike. Former longtime PSU defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky has been indicted for sexually preying on young boys. The grand jury report will turn your stomach. No sane person can understand why a man would (allegedly) do such awful, sick things. It’s also unfathomable that intelligent people charged with educating and nurturing young college students didn’t act with more common sense and compassion when made aware of accusations and eyewitness accounts of Sandusky’s actions.
There is due process that needs to take place, but we already know enough indisputable facts to realize that more than a few people at Penn State put the interests of the football program over the welfare of alleged victims and potential future victims. It’s why two people have already resigned including the athletic director.
When I asked an expert in crisis management what Penn State officials should have done, my friend gave advice that everyone should already know: If you see or hear of a young boy being molested, you call the police. It really is that simple.
|Sandusky and Paterno in happier times. (Courtesy SI)|
The unconscionable embarrassment for Penn State is mostly about people who know better and who are not named Paterno. However, the focus of this debacle always turns back to college football’s foremost living legend. What Paterno has already admitted to knowing is enough for him to resign. It won’t take away his many good deeds or staggering accomplishments, but come on, it’s time.
Here’s the attorney general’s release:
”The assistant [McQueary] telephoned Paterno and then went to Paterno’s home to explain what he had seen. Paterno testified that he then called Penn State Athletic Director Tim Curley and met with Curley the following day, explaining that a graduate assistant had reported seeing Sandusky involved in a sexual activity with a young boy in the showers at the Lasch Building.”
How could Paterno not contact police, or make sure someone else did? (to say nothing of McQueary)
The release continues:
“… there is no indication that anyone from the university ever attempted to learn the identity of the child who was sexually assaulted on their campus or made any follow-up effort to obtain more information from the person who witnessed the attack firsthand.”
No one at Penn State even tried to identify the boy? Or check on how he was doing? Or make sure the alleged predator didn’t find more victims? It’s just depressing the level of turning a blind eye going on from top to bottom. And we all know why: football rules.
Paterno will hold his weekly news conference Tuesday. I often watch because I’m in awe of Paterno’s career. This time I’ll watch to see if Paterno acknowledges the elephant in the room. PSU says Paterno will only answer questions about the Nebraska game. If true, it exhibits the same lack of awareness that led to a culture of pass-the-buck in the first place. I realize Penn State is now circling the legal wagons, and with good reason, but there’s still plenty that can be said, and Paterno should go first. He’s legally in the clear—no one has suggested he broke any laws—but Paterno could show true leadership and set an example the rest of the university should follow. A transparent search for truth, complete cooperation with authorities, and an immediate internal investigation can’t come soon enough. All should have happened a decade ago.
At this point, no one should give a crap how Penn State plans to stop Taylor Martinez.