My thoughts on Penn State

Penn State means a lot to me. The city of State College, and the University have been a part of my family for years. I was born in State College, and both my parents attended PSU. My Grandfather, another PSU grad, retired as a mechanical engineer from the Office Physical Plant. I’ve been accepted to Penn State’s MIS program, so starting this fall, I’ll be attending PSU in pursuit of a Master’s degree.

I’ve read every word in the Freeh report, and have reached the following personal conclusions. Please keep in mind these are my own opinions….

Gerald Sandusky does not deserve to breathe the same air the rest of us do, and for his abuses, deserves everything the legal system and court of public opinion can and will do to him. Part of me doesn’t want to see him alive; but part of me feels like the gas chamber or lethal injection is to humane of a punishment.

Graham Spanier and Gary Schultz should be similarly punished for their efforts to cover up the activity. They had multiple opportunities to inform the Trustees of the incidents, and chose instead to allow Sandusky to retire with honor and dignity, and most regrettably, let him retain all the tools he needed to continue to abuse children – whether they thought he would or not.

Joe Paterno is guilty of not being properly equipped to handle the situation, and while he could have done more, I don’t believe he intentionally covered up Sandusky’s activity. From page 77 of the Freeh report: “I didn’t know exactly how to handle it and I was afraid to do something that might jeopardize what the university procedure was,” he said. “So I backed away and turned it over to some other people, people I thought would have a little more expertise than I did. It didn’t work out that way.” Paterno added, “In hindsight, I wish I had done more” and regretted that he did not. Being the face of the football program, his involvement cannot be discounted, but I do not believe he deliberately covered up Sandusky’s activity. Remember, according to the Freeh report, the investigation in 1998 found that Sandusky had not done anything illegal, and no charges against him were filed.

Fining the football program and placing the funds into an endowment for child abuse prevention programs is a just and suitable punishment for the University. I agree with and support the NCAA’s ruling here.

Dismantling the statue and monument to Joe Paterno will help to move past the issue and look forward, and because it’s become symbolic of the controversy, is a demonstration on the part of the university that it recognizes the failure of the face of the football program to do everything he could to educating and nurturing the young people his university influences.

Taking away the wins from 1988 to 2011 punishes a lot of people who didn’t have any knowledge or involvement in the incidents. This just smears the legacy of the football program, but doesn’t do anything to help the victims or prevent future abuses from taking place.

Halving the scholarships for the next four years and excluding from the bowl games will certainly ‘take the football program down a peg’ and put education in front of athletics, but also punishes a lot of people who don’t deserve it. State College will suffer without the football season to support it. It’s a college town through and through, and a lot of local business depends on the tourism the football brings.

Again, echoing the Freeh report: “The most saddening finding … is the total and consistent disregard by the most senior leaders at Penn State for the safety and welfare of Sandusky’s child victims.” And echoing NCAA President Mark Emmert… “No matter what we do here today, there is no action that we can take that will remove their pain and anguish.”

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2 thoughts on “My thoughts on Penn State

  1. I agree that Paterno is being overly targeted in this. I also believe that he never knew the extent of the abuse. I believed the reports when McQuerry said he basically sugar coated it. Who wants to tell a grand fatherly figure details about children being sodomized.

    When you mentioned that the investigation lead in 1998 led to no criminal findings, while this is true, I firmly believe, based on the evidence provided (tape recordings, events that lead to Sandusky’s retirement) the Law Enforcement had a lot more on him and him stepping down was part of their cover up. If there was no wrong doing, why step down? It was to make it go away and protect the university. They recorded him saying he was showering with young boys. A mother filed the original complaint. And the cover up began.

    The governor of PA was one of the people investigating this and STILL donated state money to Sandusky’s group. He needs to be investigated.

    The one that I have the absolute biggest problem with, seems to be the one nobody cares about. McQuerry SAW IT HAPPEN. When you see a crime, you don’t tell your boss. You tell the cops. And even then, he made no effort to make sure the child was safe after the event. How can anyone do that? I would have walked the kid out of there, to his parents, while on the phone to 911. Anything less is a joke. Of course, I might have also tried to push Sandusky’s head through the wall, but that is a different story.

  2. Eli, your post is more thoughtful than many responses from Penn State/Paterno supporters I’ve seen so thanks for that. Of course Penn State is in my blood as well as you know, but I think the NCAA rulings, though very harsh, were necessary. Here’s just a couple more thoughts:

    No one can be in Joe Paterno’s brain. Did he know, did he really understand? You make him sound a bit naive. We do know that he was not naive with respect to his own legacy and its reward (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/14/sports/ncaafootball/joe-paterno-got-richer-contract-amid-jerry-sandusky-inquiry.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all). And remember, he was the coach that the University wanted to but couldn’t make retire. He had a lot of power and influence in that small group of people. I guess I’m skeptical of his naivety about that.

    But, we’ll never know. Now, zoom up to 10,000 feet, and take a really big look. This is not professional sports, where winning and losing are the most important legacy of a club or franchise, and what people pay to see. This is a college football program and these are amateur players, kids really, first and foremost college students. How you conduct this program, as a university, is the most important legacy of the program, not the win/loss record. That is certainly why Penn State has been so justly proud of Paterno’s attitude toward academics – he had seemed to understand that. Those kids/players leave PSU not only having won some football games, but also having gained a really good education. That’s something they can be proud of no matter what, and what the NCAA cannot take away from them.

    But a record that makes Paterno ‘the winningest coach’, is not the most important legacy of a college football program. Decrying the NCAA’s removal of the wins is, in effect, elevating the money and coach status that a ‘winningest’ record confers ABOVE the program’s academic achievements, but also above the affect this same program ultimately had on the lives of those children Sandusky abused. Why did Spanier and Schulz (and maybe even Paterno) not respond to what they all knew about Sandusky? No one acted in a way that stopped the abuse. There had to have been a reason for all that willful ignorance and refusal to act. There’s only one common element – that (winning) football program.

    This step, removing the win record, is a grim but crucial reminder that winning is less important than how the football program is run.

    A ‘winning’ football program is good for State College business, good for Penn State enrollment, good for alumni loyalty and giving, and good for program revenue, good for home town pride. That’s a potent combination of ‘goods’. It would have taken an extraordinary whistle blower to blow in the face of all that power, money and influence. I guess it took a kid..

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