It’s a beautiful campus. It’s pristine, tucked away, just slightly excluded from the rest of the world around it. The stately buildings are monuments to some of the best educational standards in the country, fantastic sports complexes that are meant to inspire those around and impose from those coming in from afar. This is State College, Pennsylvania and it is the epitome of the college town. It is where Penn State University proudly sits and has been a beacon of everything from top notch academics, a business model of how to run a successful state university, a storied and envied sports dynasty, and a place that thousands upon thousands of people have called home, do call home, and will call home. It is a place that with a single battle cry of “WE ARE” that they use to proclaim everything that they want you to know about them and with it tells you everything that you should know about the school, a shared identity of pride, greatness, and a standard that is second to none. And on Saturday night around 10:30pm EST, Jerry Sandusky, the longtime Penn State defensive coordinator, was told 45 times that he was guilty of involuntary deviant sexual intercourse. Of Indecent assault. And of endangering the welfare of children. He did it on that beautiful campus. He did it in those stately buildings, those fantastic sports complexes, and he did with the people around him chanting, “WE ARE”.
Jerry Sandusky is going to die in prison. He is going to be placed into a 6 by 8 foot cell and forced into solitude for 23 hours a day because if they were to put him into the general population blocks of the penitentiary they would not be able to guarantee his safety. Yes, Alanis, that is what irony is. There will be more of an effort made to make sure that Sandusky is not physically or sexually assaulted in prison that anyone had made to make sure that Sandusky was not physically or sexually assaulting young boys on a state run university campus.
This might sound more like a condemnation of the University than the man. It shouldn’t, what Jerry Sandusky did to countless, and that word never meant more than it does now as we find out that even his adopted son is now claiming sexual abuse, is reprehensible. There are literally zero words to describe how low and just what type of a person Sandusky is. However, it is the University that faces culpability as well and while Jerry Sandusky received his verdict last night at 10:30pm est., Penn State is now preparing for the onslaught that is coming next for them in the form of civil lawsuits. There is a multi-million dollar storm on the horizon for Penn State, especially as the next step for the prosecutors will be to how to handle former athletic director Tim Curley and finance officer Gary Schultz for their inability to handle or report the 2002 accusation of sexual misconduct by Sandusky.
Now Penn State has even issued a statement saying that they are contacting the known victims of Sandusky to try to facilitate a way to privately hear their claims and compensate them without going to trial, involving a jury, or dealing with the court of public opinion. They want to handle this discreetly, make the problem just go away, and not deal with the actual ramifications of everything that transpired under their watch. It is exactly this type of attitude that led to the explosiveness of this scandal in the first place. It is an arrogant and dismissive action that just wants all of this to go away rather than have to deal with any of the realities of what actually went on. This was university where after hearing in 2002 from Mike McQueary that Sandusky was anally raping a boy in their showers, Curley, Schultz, and former university president Graham Spanier decided it wouldn’t be “humane” to report Sandusky. This was a legendary coach in Joe Paterno who decided that he would tell his superiors about the abuse when it was told to him in a couple of days because he didn’t want to ruin anyone’s weekend. And this was a student body who reacted to all of this scandal, this heartbreak, and devastation by rallying around the excuses and being upset about a football coach. A group of people who were so furious with indignation that they wanted to riot and it was not that something so horrible had been allowed to happen, but that Joe Paterno was fired for his involvement.
The sense of reality that Penn State and the people around this university have veiled themselves under is almost staggering. So much so that when you hear Sandusky’s attorney Joe Amendola speak that this entire situation is a giant conspiracy of a bunch of people just trying to go after this nice old man, an esteemed football coach, who loved children and just wanted to help, you expected him to end his closing arguments with “WE ARE”. Penn State should be the ones demanding more, they should be the ones more furious than anyone else. This was their home, their sanctuary that had been defiled by a monster and covered up by cowards. Yet to this day from Penn State fans there is still more of an outcry about the way that Joe Paterno was fired and a nervous bellow that NCAA had better not levy sanctions since this had nothing to do with their athletic programs. It’s a frightening lack of depth and perception.
The question of what next is the most prevalent for Penn State and the biggest speed bump for them will be the trial for Curley and Schultz. The civil lawsuits will then be handled and despite the University’s efforts, they will most certainly not be settled and will be drawn into court. After that, the NCAA had announced that they were going to make a formal investigation into the Sandusky situation at the beginning of all of this and has yet to formally announce what actions, if any, they are going to levy. They would certainly be within their boundaries with many of their bylaws being based on unethical conduct and in perhaps a final condemnation of Joe Paterno himself, bylaws outlining the responsibility of the head coach to oversee all conduct of their assistant coaches.
Jerry Sandusky is a monster. He is a single person who has tormented and irreparably destroyed lives with his with predatory behavior. There is no hell that is fitting for him and no death that would be gruesome enough. He was supposed to be a caretaker and he abused that role in every tiny sense of the word. It is a culture, however, that allowed this to happen under their watch. It is an impassive group of men who knew about this and did nothing. They allowed this to transpire under their watch and under the guise of educators. Of leaders of young people. Sandusky is the MAN at fault for all of this, he performed the acts but it was it was Penn State University that covered its ears, closed its eyes, and shut its mouth. It was a student body who clamored for justice for a disgraced fired coach, instead of rallying behind the victims of this tragedy. It’s a mentality of persecution by the people inflicting the pain instead those owning up to the responsibilities they ignored. And it’s a standard that is broken, desecrated, and slouching towards the inevitability of culpability instead of addressing it head on and taking ownership of it. Now when someone in blue and white stands up and says, “WE ARE”, a different sentimentality is brought forward and it’s not one of pride, tradition, and standard. That is the legacy that Penn State has allowed itself to become.
NCCA BYLAW 19.01.2
Exemplary Conduct. Individuals employed by or associated with member institutions for the administration, the conduct or the coaching of intercollegiate athletics are, in the final analysis, teachers of young people. Their responsibility is an affirmative one, and they must do more than avoid improper conduct or questionable acts. Their own moral values must be so certain and positive that those younger and more pliable will be influenced by a fine example. Much more is expected of them than of the less critically placed citizen.