Shock and disgust don’t come close to describing the feeling one gets from reading the details of a grand jury investigation of alleged child molestation charges against former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.
Horrifying might be a better word, and even that doesn’t even seem able to describe the vile atrocities Sandusky supposedly perpetrated upon a number of helpless young victims over a period of several years.
For longer than I care to remember, we have been subjected to one stain after another in the world of college athletics. SMU got the so-called death penalty in 1987, USC is currently wading through sanctions levied in the wake of the Reggie Bush play-for-pay affair, and Ohio State is presently taking its turn in the NCAA meat grinder following a memorabilia-for-tattoos/cash scandal that threatened to turn the program upside down and cost head coach Jim Tressel his job and his legacy.
But none of those black marks, no matter how you perceive them, rises to level of what went on at Penn State. After reading the indictments against Sandusky, one is left with the impression that while his superiors likely did not condone his actions, they certainly did nothing to stop them.
For that reason and that reason alone, Penn State athletic director Tim Curley and university senior vice president of finances and business Gary Schultz should not have been allowed to step down in order to fight the charges of perjury leveled against them. They should have been summarily fired along with Penn State president Graham Spanier.
The contract of longtime head coach Joe Paterno should be immediately nullified as well.
Some have come to Paterno’s defense, claiming the coach did all he could by notifying his AD when he was told of one of Sandusky’s transgressions. One particular pundit – so idiotic I refuse to reveal his name – claimed Sunday on national television that at least Paterno notified his superior of wrongdoing, something Tressel did not do. Later, the pundit admitted he had made a poor reference but that he was simply trying to get in one last shot at “the phony Tressel.”
Let’s set aside for the moment the ludicrous comparison of trading a Gold Pants trinket for a tattoo to seven counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, eight counts of corruption of minors, eight counts of endangering the welfare of a child, seven counts of indecent assault and
10 other miscellaneous counts, many of which occurred on the Penn State campus.
Doesn’t it go without saying that Paterno had to notify his superiors? I’m left wondering why he didn’t call the police. After more than 50 years in State College, I’m betting the coach and the city police chief are on a first-name basis.
Paterno has been one of the pillars of college football for the past half-century, and I will admit I have admired all he has done for the sport as well as his university. The selfless time he has given to charitable organizations, along with the more than $4 million he has personally donated to Penn State, is equal parts laudatory and legendary.
But Paterno has also spent much of his time perpetuating a certain image of college football in general and Penn State in particular. If that image has even a scintilla of authenticity to it, however, one would have to believe the coach would have done more than simply pass a report of misconduct up the chain of command.
One would have to believe a molder of young men’s lives would have protected those who could not protect themselves – regardless of collateral harm to himself, his program or his employer.
One would have to believe a man of Paterno’s supposed integrity would have done all in his considerable power to put an immediate stop to Sandusky’s brutalities.
But because he did not, there can be no other course of action for Penn State. Paterno must go.