When the Penn State child sex abuse allegations story broke, I was as disgusted as the next person, but I didn’t talk to much about. That was partly out of lack of information, but also because I was so disgusted by it. If the allegations were true (I believed them to be and they have since been found to be), how terrible for the kids that were raped, abused and molested by Jerry Sandusky. I can not even begin to imagine what these children had to endure and it makes me sick to my stomach. You knew that Sandusky would have his supporters, but you also had to wonder how something like this could go on for so many years. To anyone with a brain, there was only one explanation, there was a coverup. And it was a big one, but who was involved and to what extent? Now the truth has come out.
Former FBI Director Louis Freeh has done an investigation at the request of university trustees and his report can be found here. I have not yet read the full report, but it looks like it confirms what I and many others believed all along. The actions of Sandusky were covered up for many years by multiple high ranking officials at Penn State, starting with former Head Coach of football, Joe Paterno. I am not going to comment very much about Paterno’s role in all of this since he has passed away, but he is as guilty, if not more so, in allowing the rapes, abuse and molestation to continue for years and years. Paterno was forced out of his position as was University President Graham Spanier. Vice President Gary Schultz and Athletic Director Tim Curley have also been implicated and are no longer in their positions. They have been charged with lying to a grand jury and failure to report abuse and are currently awaiting trial. They have both plead not guilty and have asked for the charges to be dropped.
In my opinion, Spanier, Schultz and Curley should be locked up for a long, long time. They should never be allowed anywhere near any educational institution or have anything to do with athletics, in any capacity, ever again. They should also be forced to either pay money to the victims and/or donate to charities that cater to abused children. They should never be free again. Sandusky has been convicted of 45 criminal counts for the rapes and abuse he committed on 10 boys (there may be even more) and will more than likely, spend the rest of his life in prison. He should be forced to serve his term in general population and whatever happens to him, happens.
Now that Freeh’s report is out, people are wondering what type of punishment, if any, the school should receive. The school not only turned it’s back on these children, but, in my opinion, facilitated it by allowing Sandusky to have access to school and it’s facilities even after being made aware of the abuse. There is no defense for that, but how do you penalize a school? The five headed monster behind this (Sandusky, Paterno, Curly, Spanier, Schultz) should all end up in prison (or have passed on). Is that enough? I certainly don’t want to speak for the victims, and let’s be clear, the only victims here are the kids, but I don’t think there is anything that can be done to right this for them.
The internet has been abuzz with what should happen with the school and one of the more popular suggestions is to suspend the football program. People vary on how long to suspend with some saying just for one year, while others want something more long term. The problem with this and college sports in general, is that the people who would suffer are the current players and fans who had nothing to do with any of this. I will admit, my initial reaction was to suspend the football program in some capacity, but that was a knee jerk reaction on my part. I wanted some time to digest what had happened. As I stated, suspension of the program hurts those who weren’t involved and I don’t know if that is fair. Joe Paterno wrote that this is not a football story and to a degree, he is right, but when the Head Coach (who carried as much, if not more weight than anyone at the school), a formerly highly respected assistant coach and the Athletic Director are all involved, it can not be separated from the football program. They committed these terrible crimes and participated in the coverup. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be having this conversation and a countless number of kids could have led normal lives.
This brings me back to what should happen to the school. I don’t think we know, or ever will, the whole story in regards to who knew what and who was involved with the coverup. I believe it is bigger than the five headed monster. The NCAA could decide to revoke scholarships from the school or ban it from post season appearances, but that would be saying that what happened at Penn State is the same as what happened at Ohio State and USC. That is certainly not the case. Penn State literally gave the keys to the castle to a person they knew to be raping, abusing and molesting children. They covered it up for years and years. This is about football, but it also goes way beyond football. The school needs to be punished and it needs a punishment that, if at all possible, fits the crimes that were committed. For that, I feel the NCAA must apply the death penalty to Penn State football. Football operations need to suspended for at least one year. If there is a way to allow current players who had nothing to do with this travesty to transfer without losing eligibility, it should be done.
A football program like Penn State’s generates a lot of revenue for the school and I believe that this is the only way to fully get the attention of not just Penn State, but of all schools in the NCAA, that this type of behavior will never be tolerated. That any school who allows, basically encourages and covers up such activities will be dealt with in the most severe way possible.
I wrote that I didn’t know if it would be fair to current players and fans to suspend the program, but the deciding factor for me comes down to the children. I know suspending the football program at Penn State can not change what happened to the victims nor do I think it will give them justice or a sense of closure, but I do think it will help ensure that the chances of this type of behavior ever happening again will be diminished.