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Restoration of Joe Paterno's Wins Sends the Wrong Message to Victims

Ray GlierCollege Football National ColumnistJanuary 16, 2015

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If you were a victim of Jerry Sandusky, you are still a victim of Jerry Sandusky. His enabler, Joe Paterno, will get his 111 victories back and will now be the winningest coach in major college football. The victims are being victimized again…and again…and again.      

It's a disgrace.

Mike McQueary, the former Penn State assistant coach, said in court, under oath, that he told Paterno he saw "severe sexual acts" between Sandusky and a boy in a Penn State locker room. Paterno should have called the police. He didn't. It was 2002. Sandusky kept his place around the Penn State program for nearly 10 more years.

Matt Rourke/Associated Press

Paterno was so powerful on campus that he could have snapped his fingers and had Sandusky locked up within an hour. Joe Pa was Penn State. A man close to Paterno molested children, and the Coach as King did nothing. McQueary told Paterno what happened. There was no need for an inquest or due process or anything; he should have told Sandusky, "Get out."

He didn't.

Former FBI Director Louis Freeh, author of the Freeh Report on the Penn State saga, concluded that Paterno was "an integral part of an active decision to conceal." Paterno knew about Sandusky as early as 1998. He did nothing. He said little.

Paterno deserved to lose those 111 wins, which were taken away by the NCAA as part of Penn State's punishment for not ridding the campus of a predator. There are victims galore because Paterno refused to call the police. Paterno said he told athletic director Tim Curley. That's not good enough if you are the god on campus.

Matt Rourke/Associated Press

The NCAA punished Penn State for this. The school is a member of an association of its own free will, and it signed a consent decree with the NCAA, which called for a four-year bowl ban, a $60 million fine to fund anti-child abuse causes, stripping the 111 wins and a reduction of scholarships.

But the NCAA, once again, is caving. It is an organization more adept at the hospitality business and selling packages of hotel/airfare around the Final Four than it is policing its members. It should have stuck by its guns and told Penn State's trustees: "You are a member of this organization. Live by the decree."

The NCAA had every right to punish Penn State.

Instead, state officials went to work for Penn State's leadership. They challenged the consent decree, even after the NCAA said the state of Pennsylvania could control the $60 million. Not satisfied, the state of Pennsylvania officials and all their football constituents wanted Paterno's 111 wins restored. So not only was the bowl ban lifted early and the scholarships restored, but the state gets its money and Paterno gets his wins.

It's a disgrace to the victims.

What are the victims thinking today? They are thinking football makes the rules, as usual.

STATE COLLEGE, PA - JULY 22: Near the entrance of Beaver Stadium, a picture of former Penn State University football coach Joe Paterno hangs on the wall on July 22, 2012 in State College, Pennsylvania. Penn State's president Rodney Erickson made the decis
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Every day, the lessons of Sandusky and Penn State are eased or brushed away. The bowl ban lifted, scholarships restored early, the wins restored. Soon, the Paterno statue will be rolled back out to its place at the football stadium. It won't be like nothing ever happened. Sandusky, after all, is in jail for a long time, and that won't change.

Still, Joe Pa catches a break. History books will have his name, for the time being, on the top line.

The big message is the victims are discounted. Here is the second message…wait long enough and a scandal's scorn will subside and all will be made well. If that's the case, then Bobby Bowden should get his wins back for the academic scandal at Florida State.

What happened at FSU was nothing compared to what happened with Paterno. What's more, all the college coaches under a show-cause order because of cheating should be cleared and free to get jobs.

The Penn State coach was not the only coward on the job. Administrators did not act. Paterno was never scapegoated; he was punished. The others face felony charges from perjury, to child endangerment, conspiracy and obstruction charges. Paterno is lucky in some ways. He died. These men are going to face trial and public scorn.

STATE COLLEGE, PA - SEPTEMBER 01: Former Penn State Nittany Lion football player Franco Harris (far right), sits with a cardboard cutout of former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno in his sky box with a sign reading 'Due Process for PSU JVP' during pl
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

I can see, just a little bit, why the bowl ban was lifted on Penn State and the scholarships were restored early. A lot of high school kids who dream of playing for Penn State didn't have anything to do with this. I just wish their parents, or their older brothers and sisters, or aunts and uncles, had not added to the disgrace with their marches through campus supporting the coach after the scandal broke.

Paterno's record will be restored.

His legacy as a great coach, a great man, will not be restored. That's done with. The NCAA and state of Pennsylvania can't remove that stain.

Ray Glier covers college football for Bleacher Report.