Not so Happy Valley
Penn State has recently been rocked by a child sexual abuse scandal. Long time Nittany Lion Defensive Coordinator Jerry Sandusky (far left) has been charged for sexually abusing eight teenage boys. Meanwhile, Tim Curley (center), who is Penn State’s athletic director, and Gary Schultz (far right), who is Penn State’s senior vice president for finance and business, have both been accused of covering up the alleged scandal. Not only is it a tragedy that these things happened at one of the most respected football schools in the nation, but the fact that these two men covered it up adds salt to the already gaping wound.
This was not a case of just one boy, not that it would be any less heinous, but there were eight boys abused here. That’s a staggering number, a number that leads one to believe that people knew about this for a while. And as Jason Whitlock of Fox Sports pointed out in a recent article, “Let’s not ignore the timing of the release of the grotesque and shocking grand jury report/indictments, conveniently revealed a week after Paterno surpassed Grambling’s Eddie Robinson on the all-time wins list. A two-year investigation wrapped up just as JoePa placed a bow on his legacy and 11 months after Paterno testified in front of the grand jury examining Sandusky’s alleged two decades of heinous perversion.”
Obviously, the timing is no coincidence, as Whitlock pointed out. JoePa has amassed 409 victories at Penn State, the most ever. His legacy is (was) of a legendary degree, he is the winningest coach ever. Although one has the natural feeling to feel some sympathy for Paterno, it’s simply inexcusable to sweep something like this under the rug. Paterno said, ” I was informed in 2002 by an assistant coach that he had witnessed an incident in the shower of our locker room facility. It was obvious that the witness was distraught over what he saw, but he at no time related to me the very specific actions contained in the Grand Jury report. Regardless, it was clear that the witness saw something inappropriate involving Mr. Sandusky. As Coach Sandusky was retired from our coaching staff at that time, I referred the matter to university administrators.”
Technically, JoePa did nothing wrong here, however he also didn’t do anything right. When he stated that he, “referred the matter to university administrators,” he is basically saying that he didn’t want to deal with the horrible truth himself. It is clear that JoePa has more power, backing, and respect than any university administrators would. Paterno could have fired Sandusky on the spot and brought the incident to the police. But, he didn’t. And while it’s sad to see such an illustrious career ruined like this, it is not undeserved.
This news comes as a shocking blow to Penn State fans, who are known to be one of the most loyal and avid collegiate sports fan bases. Michael Weinred, a writer for Bill Simmon’s critically acclaimed Grantland.com expressed that “this seems a little bit like our Len Bias moment at Penn State.” Now, I don’t believe he is comparing this scandal to a death, but he is comparing the devastating nature of the situation to Bias’ case. There is about nothing more appalling and disturbing than child sexual abuse. It’s hard to imagine that someone you look up to, a “maker of men,” had this going on under his watch.
It’s sad to see college athletics get hit with so many scandals recently. From The U, to Ohio State, to USC, and many others, it is hard to see all of this develop. But Penn State’s problem’s seriousness far out weighs the others. This was a terrible, almost unspeakable thing that happened. And while it may not result in any recruiting suspensions or Bowl win vacancies, it will result in a huge culture change and a damaged fan base. It would be hard to want to be associated with Penn State now. It’s going to be difficult to see those old black Nike sneakers walk away from Beaver Stadium, but at this point JoePa has to step down. As the New York times reported earlier today, Penn State is already planning Paterno’s exit. In a time when society always needs to see a scapegoat be punished, Paterno will fill that role. And as much as I hate to say it, he deserves what he gets.