Throughout the entire saga of the Jerry Sandusky/Penn State sex abuse scandal, people have speculated what the PSU administration knew and did not know. People who did not have facts were screaming for the NCAA to fire off the death penalty on the Penn State Football program. People without facts proclaimed Joe Paterno did all he had to do by reporting the issue to his superiors.
There was always speculation as to who exactly was in charge at Penn State. After hearing the findings of the Freeh report today, that's a very valid question. Who was in charge at Penn State? I'm not referring to the names of the people in charge during this. We know those names with great detail. President Spanier, Coach Paterno, Athletic Director Tim Curley, and Vice-President Gary Schultz.
My question is directed more towards who these people are in terms of their character.
Prior to this scandal, all four men were held with the highest regards professionally. Every college football fan is well aware of Paterno's accomplishments both on and off the field. Paterno is the all time winningest coach at the highest collegiate level. He's given millions of dollars back to the school who employed him, and for all intents and purposes he was perceived as a good guy. Spanier was also widely regarded as one of the finest university leaders in the country.
None of that matters anymore.
The findings of the Freeh report blow those reputations to hell and back. In it, the underlying theme of the report is that four people of high power and esteem at Penn State participated in a deliberate cover-up of the deplorable actions of Jerry Sandusky. They all lied as to the extent of their knowledge. All four of them.
In light of the evidence found by the investigative committee, these four people are responsible for choosing not to report the actions of Sandusky to law enforcement to protect the university and football program from shame. One quote I've heard is that it "wouldn't have been humane to Sandusky." This decision allowed Sandusky to continue to prey on his victims long after it should have been stopped.
People everywhere are disgusted by the actions of Sandusky for good reason. The crimes he committed against children are unspeakable. People are also understandably disgusted by the fact that said actions were hidden from the public intentionally. I've preferred to wait until the facts came to light before making further judgement, and that day was today.
As a former Penn State student I am absolutely sickened to see all the details of just how much these four knew and hid. Paterno, a man I once respected, has let down the very people he tried to teach the Penn State way to. When it came time for him to face his greatest test, he failed in the most awful way imaginable.
If they had gone to the authorities, Sandusky would have still been put on trial, but perhaps more people would have respected Penn State for "doing the right thing" in this situation. There would have been negative publicity, childish anti-PSU jokes much like other schools caught in scandal have to face, but it would have been the right thing to do.
So now we settle in on the next phase which is, "What punishment fits the crime?" Keep in mind that Paterno was fired for this, as was Spanier. Curley and Schultz are on "administrative leave" while they face perjury charges, although I would imagine today's findings are more than enough ammunition for Penn State to fire them for ethical misconduct.
All four involved will be gone for good from the university. That should satisfy some of the bloodlust.
Step two, legal remuneration for the victims. Money won't change what happened, but making sure these victims get help in recovering from what is an unspeakable tragedy is a necessity. Especially when it could have been prevented.
Step three, is trickier. NCAA sanctions. People out there are screaming for Penn State to get the death penalty. You'll hear both sides of this argument play out on sports radio in the near future. I never thought the day would come where I'd find myself writing this statement, but if Penn State was hit with the death penalty, I wouldn't complain. Any sane, logical fan of Penn State has to see this situation for what it is.
Shocking words I know, but this entire situation is shocking. If they continue to play football like nothing happened, it will only prove that football is king in this country. Innocents get harmed in any type of punishment. Wives, children, mothers, brothers, sisters, friends. Everyone who knows a prisoner can attest to this. It's harder on those left behind.
What would be even more shocking would be for Penn State themselves to shut down the program for a year or two. Don't wait for the NCAA to rule. Prove that you understand the seriousness of this situation and do the right thing. The school would probably be better off overall if it separated football from the university for a little while. How much of a distraction will this upcoming football season be?
There is no precedent for the type of punishment that is worthy in this situation because this (thankfully) hasn't happened before. Hopefully it never does again. My only question for the readers though is, how much is enough punishment for you?
I get the feeling from some people out there that they'd like to see the Penn State Campuses flipped upside down and become State Penn. Anyone who has ever been associated with PSU must be evil right?
Lock down any former student, professor, athlete, alumni, whatever. They scream, "Wipe Penn State off the map!"
I don't expect people to forget, but at least forgive and help Penn Staters move forward.
Contrary to some people's beliefs these days, there is still a lot of good about Penn State. I trust that PSU will do the right thing and never forget what happened here.
One other thing many people have discussed is the statue of Joe Paterno. Most people want it torn down. You can't argue with that either. Maybe before today's report you could have, but not now.
It would be a constant reminder of the man who helped conceal a serial rapist. It's a constant reminder of one of the greatest mistakes in human history. Then again, maybe you SHOULD leave it up for just that reason.
Never forget what happened here.