Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press
Jerry Sandusky was at the center of one of the most sordid athletic scandals in NCAA history.
Under long-time coach Joe Paterno, Penn State football enjoyed one of the nation’s proudest, most squeaky-clean reputations. All of that was destroyed in 2011.
In March 2011, the Patriot-News of Harrisburg, Pa., reported on a grand jury investigation into former long-time Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky’s sexual crimes against young boys.
On Nov. 4, 2011, Sandusky was indicted on 40 counts of sex crimes against underage boys; he was arrested a day later.
As part of the grand jury investigation, Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary reported that he had witnessed Sandusky engaging in what he believed to be a sexual situation with an unidentified boy in the shower area of Penn State’s locker room in 2002.
He said that he had reported the incident to Paterno. Paterno then, in turn, reported the incident to athletic director Tim Curley and Penn State vice president Gary Schultz—the bare minimum which he was required to do by law—but did not report the incident to police.
Curley, Schultz and Penn State president Graham Spanier did not report the incident to the police. And while Sandusky was banned from using Penn State’s main campus with children in 2002, he was allowed to operate a camp on a satellite campus.
Following Sandusky’s indictment in November 2011, Spanier was forced to resign. Curley and Paterno were both fired.
An independent report by former FBI director Louis Freeh stated that Spanier, Paterno, Curley and Schultz had known about the allegations since 1998 and were complicit in failing to report them, showing “a total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky’s child victims.”
Paterno died of lung cancer on Jan. 22, 2012, just over two months after his firing.
Curley, Spanier and Schultz have been charged with grand jury perjury, conspiracy, obstruction of justice and child endangerment by Pennsylvania officials.
In June 2012, Sandusky was found guilty on 45 of 48 counts of sexual abuse and sentenced to a minimum of 30 years and maximum of 60 years in prison.
The NCAA also came down significantly against Penn State. On July 23, 2012, the NCAA announced probation that included a $60 million fine, a four-year postseason ban, the loss of 40 scholarships from 2013 to 2017 and the vacation of all victories from 1998-2011—which dropped Paterno from No. 1 to No. 12 on college football’s all-time wins list.
NCAA president Mark Emmert said at a news conference that the sanctions were designed “not to be just punitive, but to make sure the university establishes an athletic culture and daily mindset in which football will never again be placed ahead of education, nurturing and protecting young people.”
Last fall, the NCAA stated that it will gradually restore the scholarships lost so that Penn State is at the 85-scholarship limit when it comes off probation in 2017.