It is going to take awhile for all of it to sink in, but the child molestation scandal at Penn State University is likely to take a huge toll on the university. Former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was convicted on 45 counts of sex abuse last month and will spend the rest of his life in jail. Last week former FBI director Louis Freeh released a report following an eight-month investigation of the scandal. The report implicates a number of PSU officials for covering up for Sandusky since an incident was reported in 1998.
Legendary football coach Joe Paterno was squarely targeted in the report. Paterno received particular scorn in the report, which alleges that he actively discouraged Penn State officials from reporting Sandusky to law enforcement. Freeh's report also implies that Paterno perjured himself while testifying before the Sandusky grand jury. In his testimony, Paterno claimed to only know about the 2001 shower incident purportedly witnessed by graduate assistant Mike McQueary. Freeh's report says that Paterno also knew about the 1998 investigation.
That is damning information. The kind of information that will tarnish the legend of the late Jo Pa. Until this investigation began to unfold Paterno enjoyed what could almost be described as saintly status. The Freeh report projects an entirely different man. Paterno’s insistence that Sandusky not be reported to the authorities in 1998 led to the molestation of at least eight more boys.
As bad as not reporting Sandusky to the authorities was, Paterno and other university officials made things even worse by allowing Sandusky to continue using campus facilities to operate his summer football camp following his retirement in 1999.
It is this point that sticks in the crawl of most observers. These people knew that Sandusky was a pedophile and continued to allow him to be with young boys by letting him use their facilities for camps?
Are you kidding me?
It is inexcusable to let Sandusky off the hook once, but to turn a blind eye while he uses the campus facilities to continue to prey on boys is beyond belief.
Paterno died of lung cancer in January and his family is working hard to save some dignity for him, but if the Freeh report is accurate, there will be no dignity to salvage. Outrage is the flavor of the national media. They are calling for severe penalties for the football program. They want the statue of Paterno removed from in front of Beaver Stadium. Some even suggest that Penn State no longer be allowed to play football.
So far, the NCAA has stayed out of the picture leading one to believe that this is a legal matter and not under the jurisdiction of the NCAA. This is a situation that bears watching. There will be a lot of pressure on the NCAA to get involved and given the magnitude of the scandal, it would not be surprising to learn the NCAA will find a way to get involved.
There are those who wonder about the fairness of penalizing a football program when it is the players who will suffer. Good point, but to allow something like this to go unpunished is wrong as well. Anyway, this episode will cost Penn State plenty; it is only a matter of how much?