For the past week, many of us have been glued to any medium available to stay abreast of the events happening at the Pennsylvania State University. I’m not going to recount the entire story, and, as you probably know, former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was indicted and arrested for abusing at least eight defenseless, “at risk” young boys. Key to this story are Mike McQueary, graduate assistant, Tim Curley, athletic director, Gary Schultz, senior vice president of finance/business, Graham Spanier, Pennsylvania State University President, and Joe Paterno, head football coach. Note that most of these men now have the word “former” listed beside their titles...as well they should.
I’ve read and heard how the Penn State spin machine initially tried to downplay the severity of the situation by indicating that McQueary really didn’t emphasize the acts he saw Sandusky engaging in, and stating that Paterno did what he was legally required to do. Paterno wishes he would have done more. Really. Of course, these explanations and statements didn’t resonate with most rational people. Further, I just don’t understand how McQueary, then 28, could just walk away from a young boy in obvious need of intervention, and go call his father. He called his father and not 911. He left Sandusky and allowed him to continue abusing a child. Wow. McQueary’s action, or lack thereof, speaks to the real culture at Penn State - a culture based upon protecting the Nittany Lion brand and its $50 Million per year athletic department revenue at all costs. The general public heard about Penn State’s so-called integrity for years and years. This “integrity” seemed to be nothing more than a well engineered marketing campaign that the media, students, alumni, and many regular folks blindly bought in to - hook, line, and sinker.
The fact that Sandusky continued to have complete and unfettered access to boys even after the initial 1998 allegation is unfathomable to me. It’s just like allowing a fox in a hen house...what do you think is going to happen? Penn State’s administration had to know what Sandusky was all about and did nothing to stop him from ruining lives. I read the grand jury report, which led to the indictment and arrest of Jerry Sandusky, and it is truly sickening. For someone to attack a child like that is just pure evil. That’s why I don’t understand how charges like this could be swept under the rug and ignored for so long. I would venture to say that many of the men involved in this case have children, nephews, or know at least one young man personally. That said, how is it possible that not one of the key players in this story didn’t think even in passing - what if that were my son, etc...I really hope that someone would help him. Obviously money, not morality, was the driving factor for allowing Sandusky to allegedly abuse boys for at least 15 years.
It seems as though the general media is more focused on the fact that Joe Paterno was fired as Penn State’s head coach after 46 years than the young boys who were molested. Of course the Paterno firing is the sensationalized story, but, he is NOT the victim here. Many stated that Paterno should have been allowed to retire on his own terms, after the end of this season. In reality, the fact that Paterno has been allowed to have total autonomy for much of his 61 year tenure as a football coach at the Pennsylvania State University is at the crux of this heart-breaking story. Let’s not fool ourselves. If Paterno demanded that his “bosses” Curley, Schultz, and Spanier contact the authorities immediately, this story would still have been disturbing, but, many young boys would have been spared a lifetime of pain.
I truly hope the victims were able to receive counseling/therapy and are able to live a somewhat normal life. If not, and you are reading this, I urge you to please seek counseling now. Two years ago, my middle school-aged son (10 years old at the time) went to Penn State for a college tour with a group of his peers from a summer program. My son is very social and talks with almost anyone. What if he had come across Sandusky in passing. I am horrified to think what may have happened. I cry, then I get angry, every time I think about what the victims went through. My thoughts and prayers are with all the victims and their families.
Unfortunately, I believe more gruesome details will come out about Sandusky. I also believe that we are just beginning to find out exactly what Penn State did to protect their brand. The real shock and amazement is yet to come.