It’s downright shocking that Penn State and the Paterno family are disputing the recent avalanche of reports revealing that the university and former Nittany Lion head football coach Joe Paterno knew that former PSU assistant Jerry Sandusky was abusing children as early as 1971.
On Sunday—in what would have been a comical juxtaposition, were the entire situation not so shameful—PSU president Eric Barron railed against the reports, the same day that university spokesman Lawrence Lokman confirmed to the AP and ESPN that the payouts to victims had begun in ’71, two years after Sandusky took over as an assistant coach for the Nittany Lions.
Since there’s still much to be proven definitively, we must all be careful before dashing to the conclusion that this was a disgraceful, systematic cover-up of a monster’s actions against innocent, vulnerable boys. It would be wrong to describe the most powerful people at the school as immoral enablers and shameful cowards who would sacrifice the lives of young people in order to preserve the reputation of the school. There just isn’t enough information about all of this yet to demand that every single person involved in the alleged cover-up should be pilloried, and that the name Paterno be stricken from every pylon and obelisk in the kingdom.
But we are getting closer to the time when all of that just may be possible.
The information reported last week raises a stench so mighty that the zoo’s primate house smells like a lavender patch by comparison. PennLive started it off by reporting that Paterno knew in 1976 about an accusation of abuse against Sandusky. CNN later added that Paterno ignored a 1971 complaint by a young man who said he was raped by the despicable Sandusky, who retained access to the PSU program many years after his “resignation.” And NBC Sports revealed that as many as six Penn State coaches witnessed heinous acts by Sandusky in the 1970s. Sunday brought the AP/ESPN report of the school’s admission of the ’71 payout.
We’re talking about some big-time news outlets. And lest anyone try to indict PennLive, remember that the Harrisburg Patriot-News’ online home blew the whole story apart in the first place. It featured Sara Ganim’s Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting on Sandusky’s vile actions.
Court filings demonstrate that Penn State paid settlements to Sandusky’s victims in the 1970s. A person familiar with the payouts corroborated this. Further, there are reports that other assistants witnessed the contemptible actions in the 1980s, and a former athletic director was told about Sandusky’s reprehensible behavior.
Of course, Penn State and the Paterno camp are howling in protest, making demands for further investigations and doing everything possible to protect the man and the institution. At stake is more than Paterno’s legacy. The entire reputation of the school—which has just started to be rebuilt following the ugliness that rained down, beginning in 2011—is at stake. If this is true, then Penn State for decades allowed a serial child molester to be employed and later have full access to the school’s athletic facilities. This, while multiple administrators, Paterno and other assistants had varying degrees of knowledge of the situation.
It is preposterous to think that Paterno didn’t know what Sandusky was doing. That he told his superior about it is simply not enough. And if all the new information is true, he knew even more than we thought. So did athletic directors and school administrators. It’s horribly unfortunate this has resurfaced, and not because of any further damage that could be done to the Penn State community. All of this news coverage makes things more difficult for the victims, who must deal with the shame and horror of Sandusky’s actions once again, while also learning that even more adults refused to protect them.
It’s impossible to exaggerate how appalling this is. The institution sacrificed individuals to keep its position and reputation strong.
EL HOMBRE SEZ: An NBA executive involved in counseling college players about their draft prospects told El Hombre the following about Villanova guard Josh Hart, who’s considering leaving school a year early: “He needs to become a better three-point shooter. Shooting 36 percent [actually, 35.7 percent] isn’t good enough. He needs to get up to about 42 percent, so the best thing he can do is shoot 500 threes a day this summer and play another year in college.”
It’s not certain whether Hart will heed that advice, but it makes sense. It’s also good news for Nova fans hoping the wing returns for his senior season.