Joe Paterno, Penn State, and College Sports: Where Did It All Go Wrong?

Darrell HorwitzSenior Writer IINovember 10, 2011

UNIVERSITY PARK, PA - NOVEMBER 08:  Penn State University head football coach Joe Paterno is surrounded by the media while leaving the team's football building on November 8, 2011 in University Park, Pennsylvania. Amid allegations that former assistant Jerry Sandusky was involved with child sex abuse, Paterno's weekly news conference was canceled about an hour before it was scheduled to occur. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

When Penn State decided to cover-up the transgressions of former asst. coach Jerry Sandusky, I'm sure they never expected the s*** to hit the fan like it has, with several top echelon figures of the university going down, including their legendary Coach Joe Paterno.

The 409 wins he accumulated in 46 seasons of coaching will no longer be what he will be known for. Instead, it will be for doing the minimum he was required to do by law and enable an alleged sexual predator to roam his campus and use the facilities to harm young boys.

As recently as last week, Sandusky still had an office on campus and the ability to use the facilities.

One of the most sickening of the facts from the grand jury report involved Sandusky using the shower room on Penn State's athletics complex to sexually assault a young boy believed to be about 10 years old in 2002.

It was witnessed by Mike McQueary, who at the time was a graduate assistant at the school and is now the receivers coach and recruiting coordinator.

He witnessed what was happening and stepped out to call his father, who then told him to come home.

He didn't stop it or do anything to rescue the boy. He didn't call the police. He left the boy there and went home. As a 28-year-old at the time, he should have known better and done more, but that's just the beginning.

He notified Coach Paterno about the incident the next day. Paterno then notified athletic director Tim Curley. Him and VP of Finance and Business Gary Schultz notified Penn State president Graham Spanier.

Everybody covered their asses, but nobody contacted the authorities to investigate.

Why would they? Football is a huge moneymaker for the school. In 2010, their program was ranked No. 3 in the nation in terms of profit, bringing in $50.4 million.

People aren't important. It's all about the school and the program, and the program at Penn State is "Joe Pa" as he's affectionately known, and football.

The lives of the young people harmed by this are insignificant in the minds of those running the show. They didn't even bother to find out who that young boy was who Sandusky allegedly raped in the shower. That's all you need to know about their thoughts on that.

The grand jury listed eight victims, but according to reports, the number is growing to possibly 17 or more.

You have to question how Joe Paterno and the school would allow someone like this on their campus, knowing about the incident and his reputation of hanging around young boys. He would regularly bring them to school functions with him.

He had access to them from a charity he started in 1977 for wayward children called the Second Mile. He would gain their confidence over time, and then take advantage of them to fill his own sick urges.

In November 2008, amid allegations he was being investigated, he was banned from any contact with children from the organization.

Even though Penn State supposedly didn't allow him to bring young boys on campus after the incident, it was reported he continued to. He also ran a football camp on a satellite campus for boys from fourth grade to high school near Erie, Pa.

In the grand jury report, one of the young victims took a shower with Sandusky, who was later confronted by his mother and apologized to her.

With all this going on and the suspicions about him, why was he still allowed anywhere on the Penn State campus?

The same thing happened with the Catholic Churches for so long. A priest would molest children and instead of being reported and locked up, they would be moved to another parish to continue on with their sick ways.

The thought is it's better to try to hide things and hush them up rather than confronting them.

The Penn State incident is perhaps the most compelling argument to take a look at college sports and the importance put on it by the institutions.

Notre Dame is another example of the program being more important than the individual, as long as they are not associated with the program or an important piece.

Declan Sullivan died when a tower he was using to tape the teams football practice fell over when winds gusted to over 50 mph. Despite the fact that it was deemed unsafe to use those towers when the wind was over 20-25 mph, Coach Brian Kelly left him up there.

The result was tragic, but at least the practice was taped.

Another incident at the same school involved a 19-year-old student at St. Mary's College and an alleged sexual battery by a Notre Dame football player. Her parents claimed the campus police conducted a superficial investigation of their daughter's allegations.

She committed suicide just nine days after the incident. Before that, she received a threatening text message from a friend of the player saying, "Don't do anything you would regret. Messing with Notre Dame football is a bad idea."

Two months after the incident occurred Coach Brian Kelly said the situation was a university matter.

The incident was handled by the campus police and the local authorities were not updated on the alleged assault.

Again, those involved that are affected don't matter. The universities don't show concern for them. Their concern is that of the school and the hallowed football program.

This story is having a major impact on so many people's lives.

Schultz and Curley were arrested for failing to alert police about the complaint on Sandusky. Curley has taken a temporary leave of absence and Schultz has retired.

Spanier is out as the university president and Joe Paterno will be retiring at the end of the season, but none of them are the victims; the innocent children are.

They have to live with what happened for the rest of their lives. It will be on their minds every day. It's a living hell for them, if they don't decide to take their lives like other victims of such acts sometimes do.

It's possible they can become abusers themselves in the future, their lives will never be the same,  Things could have been different if someone stepped forward sooner and stopped this.

The legendary coach and his cohorts in crime kept quiet to protect the institution, but they did far more harm to it than what would have happened if they addressed the situation when it occurred.

Paterno obeyed the law by reporting it to his superiors, but he broke the law of decency by not pursuing the situation and finding out what became of it and eliminating the perpetrator.

He preferred to be an enabler, and was more loyal to the guy he worked with for so many years than those kids who had nobody standing up for them.

State police commissioner Frank Noonan questioned what was done by the university and the people involved saying, "Somebody has to question about what I would consider the moral requirements for a human being that knows of sexual things that are taking place with a child."

David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, agreed with that thought. He said, "Common sense strongly suggests Paterno was protecting himself, his reputation, and the reputation of his football program and the university itself, or some combination thereof."

Continuing and comparing the parallels between the university and the Catholic bishops, he said, "First, their refusal to call police, immediately or ever. Second, the apparent concern for the reputation of an institution over the safety of the kids, and third, the absolute bare minimum of action by smart men who know better."

They may be smart men, but it when it comes to their cash-cow, we know where their loyalties lie.

Money talks, and that's why the Big Ten Network that is 24/7 Big Ten sports has glossed over the story and barely mentioned it on its broadcasts.

Anywhere money is involved and it might be affected means sweeping it under the rug.

But the dirt got out, and today, Happy Valley, as Penn State is called, is anything but.

(Shortly after I wrote this article, Coach Joe Paterno was relieved of his duties with Penn State.)


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