Saturday, July 14, 2012

PSU football deserves the death penalty

I'm sure you are all aware of the disturbing and tragic events that transpired at Penn State.

While we all knew what had happened on the surface, we were unsure as to what exactly took place behind closed doors at State College.

We were uncertain as to whether President Graham Spanier, VP Gary Schultz, AD Larry Curley and head football coach Joe Paterno were aware of the horrifying chain of events prompted by Jerry Sandusky that dated back to 1998 (as far as we know).

Well guess what folks? The facts have been released and we now know the truth.

Former FBI director Louis Freeh released this 267-page bombshell on Thursday morning. Freeh and his team reportedly sorted through roughly 3.2 million emails and documents and interviewed upwards of 400 people in an investigation that lasted approximately eight months. Although Freeh's team did not have subpoena power, their discoveries and conclusions are based off of factual documentation that should not be taken lightly.

The most powerful men at Penn State turned a blind eye to a pedophile in (what looks like) an attempt to prevent bad publicity towards the university, specifically the football team. It was only a matter of time before the news eventually got out and Joe Pa knew how much the allegations would hurt the football program (reputation, revenue streams, bowl games, recruiting, NCAA violations, etc.).   

Here are a few quotes/excerpts from the Freeh Report:

"The investigation revealed a reverence for the football program that is ingrained at all levels of the campus community."

"There were more red flags here than you could count over a long period of time."

"The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized."

"You did what you had to do. It's my job now to figure out what we want to do" (Paterno to McQuery after the infamous shower incident in 2001).

“It’s a very strong and reasonable inference that he could have done so if he had wished” (Freeh on whether Paterno could have stopped Sandusky or not). 

"Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley also failed to alert the Board of Trustees about the 1998 investigation or take any further action against Mr. Sandusky. None of them even spoke to Sandusky about his conduct."

"Based on the evidence, the only known, intervening factor between the decision made on February 25, 2001 by Spanier, Curley and Schulz to report the incident to the Department of Public Welfare, and then agreeing not to do so on February 27th, was Mr. Paterno's February 26th conversation with Mr. Curley."

"It is more reasonable to conclude that, in order to avoid the consequences of bad publicity, the most powerful leaders at Penn State University – Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley – repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky's child abuse from the authorities, the Board of Trustees, Penn State community, and the public at large. Although concern to treat the child abuser humanely was expressly stated, no such sentiments were ever expressed by them for Sandusky's victims."

"The University has no centralized office, officer or committee to oversee institutional compliance with laws, regulations, policies and procedures."

The report also noted that Sandusky received "an unusual lump sum payment of $168,000" in his retirement package, as well as free, unrestricted access to certain campus facilities. Sandusky was also granted the prestigious "emeritus" status by President Spanier in 1999.

In addition, the Freeh report suggests the university's compliance department was extremely understaffed. The document also emphasizes the lack of communication between the four powerful officials and the Board of Trustees. 

Lack of institutional control or what?

No question about it.

The most disappointing revelation I came across while scanning through the report took place on February 26th, 2001.

According to Freeh, Spanier, Curley and Schultz agreed to call child services and alert them of what Mike McQuery had told them (aka the infamous shower incident). Ironically, after meeting with Paterno the following day to inform him of the decision, Curley suddenly had a change of heart and told Spanier and Schultz he wasn't "comfortable" ratting out Sandusky. Are you kidding me?

Citing an e-mail uncovered by Freeh's team, Curley was quoted as telling the two officials that he changed his mind, "after giving it more thought and talking it over with Joe [Paterno] yesterday." Curley was supposed to be Paterno's boss, but we all know that wasn't the case (Paterno handpicked Curley as his AD back in the day).

The most disturbing and appalling incident I encountered in the report involved a janitor who unintentionally witnessed Sandusky molesting a young boy in the notorious Lasch building showers. The janitor recognized Sandusky, but was hesitant to alert university officials because he was afraid of losing his job (Freeh later stated in his report that going after the Penn State football program was like taking on the President of the United States). The former Korean war combat veteran described the incident as "the most horrific thing I have ever seen in my life."

If that doesn't put it in perspective for you then I don't know what will.

Decorated ESPN sportswriter Rick Reilly recently admitted he was "an idiot" for actually believing all the hype regarding Paterno's world-wide perceived "honorable" character. He even recalled a specific instance back in 1986 when he was visiting Happy Valley in order to write a Sportsman of the Year piece on Paterno.

While in his hotel room, Reilly received a random phone call from what turned out to be a Penn State professor. The professor said to Reilly: "You're going to be just like the rest, aren't you? You're going to make Paterno out to be a saint. You don't know him. He'll do anything to win. What you media are doing is dangerous."

Initially he didn't think much of it, but Rick Reilly now fully understands what the anonymous professor was trying to tell him roughly 26 years earlier.

I honestly feel sorry for those who have admired and looked up to Joe Paterno. The funny thing is the vast majority of  Joe Pa's apologists didn't know him personally nor did they know what he was ultimately about. It's pretty scary to think about how easily the media can influence the perception of the public. Paterno was portrayed as a saint-like figure who stood for honor, integrity and justice (to say the least). For what, winning a bunch of football games?

Washington Post reporter Sally Jenkins was the last person to interview Paterno before he passed away. Approximately nine days before his death, an ailing Paterno sat at his kitchen table in a wheelchair and completely lied to her face. Paterno insisted he was unaware of the 1998 police investigation into Sandusky and claimed "nobody had any inkling of it." He could have set the record straight, but instead he took his secrets to the grave in an attempt to preserve his legacy. 

If this isn't the worst scandal (and cover-up) in NCAA history, then I don't know what is. If this doesn't warrant the death penalty, then I don't know what does.

If the NCAA doesn't lay down the hammer on Penn State, they might as well cease to exist.

P.S. Early reports are suggesting Penn State could pay up to an estimated $100 million in civil lawsuits and damages when it's all said and done.

Moral(s) of the story:
The truth will always come out (no matter how long it takes).
Never give one man that much power (no matter how many football games he wins).
You guys can come up with the rest...


  1. Gav:

    From the board of trustees to the administrative level to any authoritative arm of the football program ( including the AD ) I agree with you. They all have to go. After that it becomes more complicated.

    Is it fair to the current football players,students , etc.? Penn State Football was/is a religion in the Happy Valley Region.191,000 people donated to the Penn State "money making machine" last year , ( 2nd highest in their history ). 208,000,000.was raised . And many will contribute more now to assist in repairing their reputation.

    No one at Penn State is proud of this. it is a school with alot of pride & hundreds of thousands of Alumni. Happy Valley was always Happy because of Penn State. The area epitomizes "hard-working Middle class Americans". Penn State is their Empire State building.

    I think the football program should be suspended for 2 years. That will give them enough time to clear everyone out & begin rebuilding .

    I liked your article & certainly see your side of it.


  2. I definitely agree with a two year ban. If they were to shut down the program, the NCAA should allow the current members of PSU football to transfer immediately without having to sit out (grant an extra year if you have to). It would be somewhat similar to what NCAA did for Duke lax players after they were eventually found not guilty.

    The players at USC and Ohio St. had to suffer the consequences of Bush and Pryor even though they had nothing to do with it. Granted they didn't miss an entire season of games, but still, I mean PSU's crimes/lack of structure was alot worse than USC or OSU.

    I think the Board of Trustees should all probably step down as well (it would look better to the public and it will help them start with a clean slate). The statue should be removed from where it currently stands and Paterno's name should be taken off the library (even though he donated $4 mil). It would just look better for PSU and help them turn the page and move on.

    The lack of organizational structure at PSU was completely impermissible, which is something the NCAA can address (Sandusky's individual behavior not so much). I think it would look better if PSU imposed a 1-2 year ban themselves as opposed to the NCAA.