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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Legacy to End in Ruins (And Rightfully So): The Debacle at Penn State

So the indictment is in. Jerry Sandusky, former defensive coordinator of multiple winning teams under legendary head coach Joe Paterno (JoePa), was indicted by a grand jury earlier today for sexual assault of minors, in multiple cases. Sandusky started a charity while coached, called "Second Mile", which was dedicated to helping children with absent or dysfunctional families. Second Mile raises millions of dollars through fundraisers for these kids, and the man who was running it, Sandusky, was essentially making it easier for himself to prey on innocent children through a good cause. Sandusky, who was no longer coaching after 1999 because he was dismissed by Paterno, still held full emeritus status at the university with access to almost all the facilities, a parking pass, and numerous other perks. Sandusky even still held an office there, and was present up until even last week.

The details of this case, after reading the grand jury case report through the Washington Post (Warning: some details are graphic) are, to say the least disturbing. I felt physically sick at points when reading the report and some of the details by the victims.

The hard part to swallow of this whole thing is that something very, very wrong was going on with the Penn State football program for around 13 years. Sandusky, a sub-human predatory monster, had been sexually assaulting kids, and had actually been witnessed on more than one occasion by more than one person raping minors, boys who weren't even teens in some cases. People knew this was going on. Paterno himself knew this was going on. It is absolutely mind-boggling to think that someone didn't go to the authorities on this and that it was all kept in house.

"Victim 2" as he is referred to in the report, was witnessed being raped by Sandusky in the shower by a graduate assistant, Mike McQuery, who stopped by the locker room one night and saw what was going on. Sandusky had a history of bringing boys into the showers after he started spending time outside of the charity with some of the children. McQuery clearly saw what was going on and was upset by it. He left, and called his father, unsure of what to do. His father directed him to tell Paterno. Paterno testified that he remembers the call and the report McQuery left him, and that he told the athletic director, Tim Curley, as well as his immediate superior. Curley, who was charged with lying under oath during the trial, claims that he was reported to as there was something going on, but referred to as "mere horseplay."

Lots of question will and should be asked about all of  this. Why did McQuery not do anything to stop what was going on right away? When Sandusky was terminated in 1999 did it have to do with his inappropriate and appalling behavior with kids? If so, why was he still allowed access to the facilities? McQuery was later promoted to a good coaching position in the organization. Was this a reward for his silence in not going to authorities? Why would he even want to stay there after he witnessed such a heinous act, and seeing nothing was being done about it? What did Penn State president Graham Spanier know and when? Spanier signed a "ban" of Sandusky bringing children into the facilities in 2002. How could you sign that ban and not ask why? Where was the follow-up? Why wasn't it enforced, as Sandusky continued bringing kids in after the ban was signed?

So much of this is completely disgusting. For those outside the college football world, Joe Paterno is a true icon. He is probably one of the top ten coaching legends of all time. He's been on the Penn State sideline, leading them for 46 years, the longest tenure of any head coach in FBS history. He holds the record for victories by a head coach in Division I football, and was instrumental in the brand building of Penn State. He was known as a "man of conscience" in the sport, leading a squeaky clean program and making sure his players did their school work and didn't use performance enhancing drugs. Over time, Paterno grew into a legend bigger than the university itself. Joe Paterno IS Penn State.

With that being said, none of it matters. Paterno needs to go, and he needs to go now. He wants to coach Saturday in Penn State's game against Nebraska. Are you kidding me? Paterno was the big man on campus, and he knew what was going on. He found out in '98, and got rid of Sandusky the next year. Related? I think maybe. Why wouldn't Paterno alert authorities? If his inaction led to even one more child being victimized by this monster, then Paterno's ethical and moral conscience is not fit to be a part of any university or lead any program. Paterno is a father himself, as well as a grandfather. How could he even go one day without feeling sick from guilt? He needs to resign. Paterno did what he was supposed to do, and told his superiors. Sometimes, Mr. Paterno, just doing what is necessary legally is not right. Sometimes, you just need to do what is right period. Paterno could have put a stop to this at any time, and he knew the events of what was going on. There was supposed to be a press conference at 12:20 today by Paterno, but Spanier canceled it and said it will not be rescheduled. Which is a shame, because I would have liked to hear the explanation. I was genuinely interested in hearing what he had to say. I don't think it would have changed anything, but maybe there's something we're missing. But now, he's missed his chance.

The bottom line is that the Penn State football program was more concerned with protecting their image than protecting innocent little kids. And for that, shame on all of them. Including you, JoePa. Especially you. This monster was enabled for over 13 years and 8 victims (that we know of, and I'm sure there will be many more) have been robbed of their innocence due to this monster. Paterno and Spanier need to step down, and they need to step down now. And if they don't, the Board of Trustees should remove them. This type of conduct isn't acceptable from anyone, regardless of your legacy. Regardless of how many championships you have won. Regardless of whose reputation it might hurt, or who might lose their jobs. Clean house, and clean house completely.

One has to wonder if this is just a sad progression and development of the era of big-money college football. Where legacy overrules common morals and conscience. I hope that this culture isn't what continues, for it's unacceptable. These heinous acts and the subsequent cover-up are despicable, and I hope any alumni writes the Board of Trustees demanding for action on the parts of Paterno and Spanier, or they will not be receiving any more support from you.

As for Sandusky, I have nothing to say. Should you be found guilty, as I pray you will be, I hope the Pennsylvania Justice System treats you severely and harshly, as you deserve.

To Paterno, I guess the biggest question I have to ask is...was it worth it?

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