Skip to comments.Growing Up Penn State: The end of everything at State College
Posted on 11/08/2011 5:29:07 PM PST by Colofornian
Something terrible happened on my street when I was kid, something that I had screened from my consciousness for many years until last weekend. My neighbor Scott Holderman and I were futzing about near the side of his house, setting up one of those epic Star Wars tête-à-têtes or digging for earthworms or doing whatever children do on nice days in quiet neighborhoods, and then there came a horrible screeching, the braking of an automobile that could not stop in time. The car had crested the steep hill of our street and slammed into a child who wandered into it. I can still see the child lying there, and I can still hear the mother's tortured shriek when she realized it was one of hers. An ambulance arrived, and then a medevac helicopter touched down 30 feet from our house, and they took the child away. He survived, but he wasn't the same.
A few years earlier, back when I was 5, my parents moved from suburban New York City to State College, Pa. They did this because my father took a job as a professor at Penn State, but I assume they also did this because State College was considered a good place to raise children, a placid college town set in the geographic center of Pennsylvania. Those of us who grew up there like to say we lived three hours from everywhere. We resided in a development called Park Forest, on a street named after a British county.
The kids from the neighborhood would gather to play basketball in my driveway, not because I was particularly popular, but because we had a good hoop. In high school, we engaged in epic pick-up football games in Sunset Park, a little patch of grass right next to a house owned by Joe and Sue Paterno. In the second grade, my Little League coach was an enormous neighbor of ours named Mr. McQueary, and his son Mike was the best player on our team.1 We went to school at Park Forest Junior High, and then we went to State College High School, where we learned how to drive and how to date and how to do quadratic equations. We were the sons of farmers and college professors and football coaches. One of my brother's classmates was named Sandusky; one of my classmates was named Sandusky, too.2 I goofed off in the back of Latin class with a kid named Scott Paterno.3 We knew who their fathers were; their fathers were royalty to us, even if we acted like it was no big deal. Our football team's nickname was the Little Lions. There was no way to extricate the happenings at our school from the happenings at the university, and the happenings at the university always centered around football. Everything in State College even the name of our town was one all-encompassing, synergistic monolith, and Joe Paterno was our benevolent dictator, and nothing truly bad ever happened, and even when it did, it was easier just to blot it from our lives and move on.
I can't add a lot to what's been written about the facts of the burgeoning scandal at Penn State, except to tell you how strange it feels to type the phrase "burgeoning scandal at Penn State." I know that I'm in denial. I know that I'm working through multiple layers of anger and disgust and neurosis and angst. I know that I'm too emotionally attached to the situation to offer any kind of objective take, though I don't think I realized how emotionally attached I was until this occurred. I never understood how much of an effect both football and a sense of place had on my persona. I apologize if what follows seems disjointed, because I am still coming to terms with the fact that this is real. "What can I say?" my mom wrote me from State College on Monday afternoon. "We're sort of going around in a daze."
I do not mean to make excuses for anyone involved, nor have any of the alums or townspeople I've spoken to or corresponded with, including my friend Brad, who is the most rigidly optimistic Penn State booster I've ever met. There's a group, about 15 or 20 of us, who have kept in touch since college, and I haven't seen some of them in years, and I've never met some of the others, but I still consider them close friends because we share a bond that was forged through football. And I know that, if you attended a secondary institution where football was not a priority, that sounds like an absurd basis for a relationship. But this is why college football evokes such extreme emotion, and this is why schools work so damn hard and often take ethical shortcuts to forge themselves into football powers: If they are successful, then the game serves as the lifelong bond between alums and townspeople and the university, thereby guaranteeing the institution's self-preservation through donations and season-ticket sales and infusions into the local economy. It is a crass calculus, when you put it that way, which is why there will always be skeptics and there will always be those of us for whom college football is (other than our own families) the purest emotional attachment of our adulthood, and there will always be some of us who bound between those two poles.
Every year, Brad sends out an eight-page e-mail, a meticulous scouting report on a team that is inevitably destined for an Outback Bowl berth but that Brad believes really has a shot at 12-0 this time around. This is what Brad wrote on September 6, a few days before Alabama pounded Penn State in a game none of us believed we could win: "We're gonna hang on Saturday. I think we're gonna give 'em a run."
And this is what Brad wrote on Monday: "The nature of this crime is the worst that has ever happened anywhere."
We moved to State College in 1978, the season Penn State lost to Alabama on a goal-line stand in the Sugar Bowl. I was in first grade, and I didn't have much in the way of social skills, and Penn State football was the language by which I could relate to the world and through which I could speak to the adults around me. I drew pictures of Curt Warner and Todd Blackledge; I memorized the rosters so that when people in our section at Beaver Stadium would ask who made that play, I could tell them. To this day, when I try to recall the combination of my gym locker or a friend's birthday or the license plate of my rental car, I think in terms of uniform numbers. It is not 31-17-03; it is Shane Conlan-Harry Hamilton-Chip LaBarca. Those were great years, and Penn State was in its heyday and Joe Paterno was the Sportsman of the Year and State College was a community that never gave in to the ethical lapses of the '80s and early '90s, because our coaching staff would not stand for it. One former player called it Camelot, and that sounds apt enough.
Jerry Sandusky had been promoted to defensive coordinator the year before we arrived in town. For decades, Penn State defined itself through its ability to stop people when it mattered, and, speaking from a strict football perspective, Sandusky was as responsible for the school's glory years as Paterno was. Linebacker U. thrived under Sandusky, and Penn State won its first national championship in 1982, and then won another in 1986, defeating Miami 14-10 in the Fiesta Bowl in a game predicated entirely on defense. It is widely acknowledged that Sandusky's game plan was the difference, that he rattled Vinny Testaverde and Miami's impetuous wide receivers by devising confusing coverage schemes and instructing his defensive backs to hit Michael Irvin until he cried. The day after it happened, they played that game on a continuous loop in our high school cafeteria. It is still my favorite football game of all time, a metaphoric triumph of the unadorned hero over the flamboyant villain. I wrote a long piece about it for ESPN, and a portion of a book, that now rings completely hollow. I have the original video recording of it in my living room, and I have thought several times over the past couple of days about taking a hammer to it.
I remember one Saturday morning in the autumn of my adolescence, the coach shambling along in his parka, brow furrowed, glasses shadowed in the sharp glare of the sun, black sneakers kicking at the leaves as they eddied and then parted on the asphalt path before him. I did not intend to follow him; it just happened that way, so that one moment I was headed to a football tailgate and the next moment I was trailing along behind Joe Paterno.
I walked behind him for several miles that day. Back then, in the late 1980s, it was still a routine of his to walk from his house to the stadium where he coached, slipping across the Penn State campus, past science labs and classroom buildings and parking lots occupied by stunned tailgaters who could never quite get over the fact that it was really him. Sometimes we were guilty of regarding him as more deity than man,4 as if he presided over us in mythological stand-up form. He was as much our own conscience as he was a football coach, and we made that pact and imbued him with that sort of power because we believed he would wield it more responsibly than any of us ever could. Maybe that was naïve, but we came of age in a place known as Happy Valley and naïveté was part of the package, and now that word isn't in our dictionaries anymore.
As a journalist, of course, you're taught to be skeptical of everything, and in college, we tried our damndest at the college newspaper to cover Penn State football like professional journalists did. At one point, a talented young reporter thought she'd caught Paterno in a loophole regarding the housing policy at the school, but nothing much ever came of it. Most of the time, Joe got what he wanted. We grew older, and we came to understand one of the central truths of human nature, which is that when you brush up against a truly powerful force, it is never quite as benevolent as you imagined it to be. In order to acquire power, you have to be at least a little ruthless.5 All you can hope for is that those who do acquire power operate by some sort of rough ethical standard, and even if I no longer deified Paterno, I continued to believe that the monolith I'd grown up inside was essentially a force for good. They did things I found untoward, but I always presumed they did them for the right reasons.
A few years ago, I drove down to the University of Maryland to research a story on Len Bias. I'd gone to see his mother speak at a high school, and now I sat in her office, and I asked her what went wrong at Maryland, whether the administration and the people in power deserved to share any of the responsibility for her son's death, and I remember precisely what she told me. "There was no covering," she said.
I don't know if there are any apt analogies to anything when it comes to this case, but this seems a little bit like our Len Bias moment at Penn State. Our leaders failed to cover, and while they deserve the benefit of due process, they deserve to be held accountable for whatever mistakes they made. If it means that this is how Joe Paterno goes out, then so be it; if it means that 30 years of my own memories of Penn State football are forever tarnished, then I will accept it in the name of finding some measure of justice. Every sane person I know agrees on this. It took Maryland the better part of two decades to regain its soul, and it will take us many years, as well, and in some way it will never be the same. We've come to terms with the corruptibility of the human soul in State College, and we've swept away the naïve notion that this place where we lived so quietly was different from the rest of America.
I have two close friends, a husband and wife, both alums, who moved to State College from New York City a few years ago. They did this because they couldn't afford to raise children in Manhattan, but they also did it because he couldn't imagine a safer place to raise their kids than a little town in a valley situated three hours from everywhere. I don't know what it feels like to grow up there now. I want these things to disappear from my consciousness, but they won't. The place where I grew up is gone, and it's not coming back.
Michael Weinreb is a Grantland staff writer and the author, most recently, of Bigger Than the Game: Bo, Boz, the Punky QB and How the '80s Created the Modern Athlete.
The "end" of Paterno, who this author told ESPN is State College...[shame on this community for making a man into an idol!]
The end of many admin & coaching careers
The end of its best recruiting years
The end of some of its sponsors
And perhaps, just perhaps...the end of football-as-campus idolatry -- well at least @ State College, but not elsewhere [well, that's probably wishful thinking]
Weinreb did an on-air interview with ESPN, which linked to the above article. He told ESPN that something went morally haywire at Penn State. He also put the focus first on the victims, which I thought was quite sensitive of him.
Weinreb concludes: The place where I grew up is gone, and it's not coming back.
From the article: I can't add a lot to what's been written about the facts of the burgeoning scandal at Penn State, except to tell you how strange it feels to type the phrase "burgeoning scandal at Penn State." I know that I'm in denial. I know that I'm working through multiple layers of anger and disgust and neurosis and angst. I know that I'm too emotionally attached to the situation to offer any kind of objective take, though I don't think I realized how emotionally attached I was until this occurred. I never understood how much of an effect both football and a sense of place had on my persona. I apologize if what follows seems disjointed, because I am still coming to terms with the fact that this is real. "What can I say?" my mom wrote me from State College on Monday afternoon. "We're sort of going around in a daze."
Homosexuals do tremendous damage. The idea that they are just like everyone else is false. They are mentally ill, and relentlessly destructive.
Since I’m not a sports fan, perhaps someone could clue me in to exactly what happened at Penn St.
“He also put the focus first on the victims, which I thought was quite sensitive of him.”
That was quite sensitive of him because the perspective on this story from the press is all about poor Joe Paterno, poor head of the college, etc. I heard a quote from a guy on the radio this morning (I did not catch who he was) who said something to the effect of the greatest damage in this scandal was to the foundation that the molester founded. I just about screamed at the radio “what about the kids?”. Everybody seems to be focused on the poor college and no one is even thinking of the victims. I have no connection to Penn State and couldn’t care less about their integrity or anything else. What I care about are the young boys molested by this perverted monster.
It isn’t about sports. Read a newspaper.
It’s enough to bring down the Football program and the Academic Officers of the school. I’ll let someone with more detailed facts answer. It is a shame.
Go to Google News and type “Penn State”. You will find 8,505 articles. You need only read one.
I read this story and I cried.
Good intentions stikes again.
In 2002, nobody - not McQueary, who witnessed it; not Paterno, who kicked it up the ladder and forgot about it; not Curley nor Schultz, who covered it up; not Graham Spanier, the Penn State President - nobody tried to find out the name of the pre-teen boy who was anally raped in the Penn State football showers.
And the number of known victims has risen to twenty from the eight in the indictment.
Great post...and aside from the many obvious lessons here, there is another one, one which we Freepers and good conservatives everyone understand: beware the cult of personality.
I hate to come off as what I call an “internet macho man”, but I swear if one of these victims was my son, I won’t go into what I would do to the pervert, but he would be a dead SOB, as well as anyone who abetted him and anyone who got between me and them. In my opinion, there is no worse crime than this and the thought that these people, some of whom actually witnessed it, ignored it just burns me up.
Why was Paterno allowed to stay so long? Was he blackmailing PSU by threatening to expose Sandusky and the administration if they fired him?
Yes. This is why predators target those from weak families or those of weak mind. No one to ever come back on them.
Well at some point Penn State will live this down. Sad situation. Imagine how good the school would have looked if at the first sign of trouble they ran this pervert out on a rail?
Penn State has such a “party” reputation that many top students living in state do not even apply. It needs a huge overhaul.
Why, Joe, why. Just tell us why you did not act.
So true, same problem the Catholic Church experienced.
As Russell Kirk once put it—although I think he got the phrase from one of his daughters—”The wolf is always at the door.” Evil is real, and the struggle between good and evil runs through every human heart. Neither we nor our leaders and heros are exempt. Vigilance is obligatory, whether we live in a “conservative” place or a “liberal” one.
Having said that, I don’t think the writer’s “Dover Beach” tone is warranted. A lot of good has come out of Penn State’s football program. That good isn’t simply negated by these recent revelations.
As a Catholic, I had to face the fact a few years back that not all of our clerics were saints (to say the least!!). The horrific sins the of the degenerates don’t negate the good the Church and and its members do in the world.
On a more mundane level, something similar is true of the PSU football program. We ought take these events as an opportunity to re-learn the virtue of humility and acknowledge that however good, our side isn’t perfect.
Indeed...the wolf will always be at the door.
I think this really depends upon perspectives.
If you're the beneficiary of Penn State's football program...
* say a hospitality industry owner or worker...
* a football player who gets a scholarship...
...then you'll say "much good" has come from the program.
If you're one of the victims, no. The assessed "good" piled on thick and high can NEVER outweigh what Penn State has "delivered" to your community or nation.
As for its overall community impact,
..a sense of a unified community, yes...
...events for fellowship ops, students, alumni & residents alike, yes...
As for its sense of betrayal which the author of this article talked about in his interview with ESPN today, how do you...
...get these parents of these victims ever to trust other adults again?
Even other parents in State College -- how do you engender trust when not only do pedophiles "break through" the outer barriers, but even the internal multiple safeguards are ignored?
Finally, Pharmboy's phrase in post #12 is worth noting: ...good conservatives everyone understand: beware the cult of personality.
Another FREEPER on another thread today noted the big Paterno cutouts @ the Penn State bookstore and noted how that was "a bit much."
Even beyond the State College-specific "cult of personality" is the absolute idolatry that college sports serves up, especially the football program. Everything is seemingly sacrificed to serving the program.
In this way, if we were seeing this from God's perspective, would He be pleased with the overall "product" of idolaters, even if the idolaters gave an ongoing "nod" to "character building?"
One thing that keeps coming up in my mind though, for some reason. A few years back, there were recordings of the Student Section at Beaver Stadium singing the Alma Mater, except they didn't know the words, they weren't in the program, and the scoreboard couldn't display such things, so instead they were singing loudly “We don't know, the G-D’md words” to the music. PSU forgot to teach their students about the Alma Mater. I think that was a sign of how PSU was losing its way, and I think they forgot the words (and meaning) themselves. Very sad. That said, Spanier needs to resign, Paterno needs to resign, McQuery needs to resign, and Curly, Shultz and Sandusky need to pay the price for their crimes. Oh, and Sandusky’s ‘charity’, the Second Mile, needs to be shut down, so the donors money can be freed up for other worthwhile endeavors.
The damage done by this homosexual pedophile cannot be understated. I double-checked my FR homepage to make sure I had no reference to being a Penn state graduate and then I wondered, what about all the graduating seniors who have to put “Penn State” on their resumes?
Yikes. If people think an employer won’t grimace just a little when seeing “Penn State” on a resume and hire instead the other, equally qualified college graduate from some other college, they are deluding themselves. that institution, Penn State, has just been knocked for one hell of a loop. The only conceivable remedy as far as I’m concerned is for EVERYBODY to go.
Thank you for chipping in. We need more FREEPERS with a frank objective viewpoint like what you offered here ...despite the subjective emotional tuggings within your heart that you must have felt with every word you typed.
We fail to understand the depth of the ramifications caused by sexual immorality. We were not created to be sluts, whores, wolves and pimps. We were created to be the opposite of that.
For example, adultry shatters love and trust every day and often times results in divorce wrecking a child’s home and sense of security forever. Casual sex after a night at the bar can result in life changing and devasating consequences in disease and in abortion (killing of your baby, guilt, sorrow, regret...) or the hard life and poverty of single motherhood. A man gets to serve 18 years as ATM dad.
And then there is child abuse and that really does include teen boys who are manipulated into sex by homo predators. It is life shattering for a boy and the fear of anyone finding out and condemining you is awful. Also the doubt and confusion that is implanted at a key time of a boy developing his own sexual sense of self is horrendous in consequences.
Each one of these earth shattering experiences touches everyone we know and love. It twists who we are; strips innocense and defrauds love. Soon the whole earth is a majority of the walking wounded of sexual perversion.
Thanks for posting this essay.
Your comment made me think about "identity pride." You know, the kind of "pride" you get @ your home football team game...whether it's a high school homecoming game or your college alma mater doing well in a given sport.
There's a certain amount of pride that's expected and acceptable. The kind of pride when a son or daughter excels well in sports or academics or a community effort/project.
At some point, pride can mushroom into the sinful sort of pride mentioned in the Bible. Arrogant pride. Put the idol-above-all-other-considerations pride.
It's when a person's identity is so wrapped up in an institution, you don't realize what a loop you can be knocked for until that identity becomes an icon of disgrace.
That logo you once looked @ w/great pride becomes a sordid, disdained, symbol -- one almost rightfully spit upon by the rest of the nation and even the entire world!
Well, the prophet Isaiah of Old Testament times seemed to address this man-made virtue in the latter part of his writings. He compared human righteousness to filthy rags. The Hebrew word he used there was a reference to bloody menstrual cloths.
We often look @ our universities as if they were intellectual juggernauts towering to heaven. And then scandals like these erupt to remind us that part of the "structure" of these juggernauts are bloody menstrual cloths that are like filthy rags to our God. They account for nothing. And they show how much these "university juggernauts" are but sand castles, awaiting the "next slide" of sand.
Yes. It amazes me that those most "in the trenches" vs. environmental pollution can't seem to recognize that it comes in more varieties than bad air, bad water, and tangible pollutants like that.
If Sandusky had just “married” some 21 y old boy-toy and adopted some kids or had had twins with a surrogate egg donor, he’d still be a sports legend and community hero, and off having vacations with Mr and Mr Elton John or Rosie or Ricky Martin
The big deal is he liked his man-sex with minors and now everyone acts shocked, shocked I tell you...at the human moral damage he inflicted
I cannot tell you how many people lined up at our local mall last weekend (with children even) to pay money to pose with Tim Gunn- who is making a “celebrity” fortune being a bitchy prissy gay man
When primetime TV boasts this week of its first gay sex scenes featuring teenage actors (”Glee”) - I just don’t get the shock and dismay ... if Sandusky liked girls would there be the same revulsion?
I in no way meant to imply that the good effects of the program justified the evil acts that were perpetrated or erased their effects. And you don't need to itemize the consequences of child molestation. I am fully aware of them, thank you very much. I said that the evil acts do not negate (i.e., annihilate, destroy) the objective goods of the program. This in no way implies that those goods excuse the grave evils done by some.
I assert nothing more here than that the Light shines in the darkness, but is not swallowed up by it. I am not making excuses for the darkness.
Good way of framing it.
The question then to be discussed is...how much does a government-run ed campus like Penn State...led by higher ed liberals...resemble "light"?
Especially when we've seen their end products of late.
That's where you've failed to make the case that they are such a source.
In that vein, I was merely asking that if you consider the source --
--seeming sports-program idolaters who sacrifice pre-teen boys in favor of protecting the football program's reputation,
I don't think God would give Penn State a "C" for effort or generic program "goods," or whatever vague values you assign to their program.
I would think that idolaters would be more under God's "pass-fail" system vs. a "grade system" or a "grade on a curb" system.
I attended Penn State from 1966 to 1970. We had “freshman customs,” involving wearing a “dink” (beanie) and learning all the words to all the school songs, to be sung on demand for upperclassmen the first week of school. After graduation, I taught at a nearby high school. One of my colleagues said how inspired he was by the enthusiastic singing of the students during the Alma Mater. I had to tell him they were singing “We don’t know the G-D words.” That was a student prank, and became tradition for a few years.
Now, the band and other game day performers hold a program to promote everyone learning the words. The Alma Mater has been displayed on the scoreboards for many years. I still sing the original words by heart.
Paterno was the exciting young new coach at the time I was a student. Think of it. Forty six years at the helm. No wonder generations consider(ed) him at the heart of their college experience. Aside from football, he has done much good for the university as a whole, and not just in a football capacity.
My father retired from his engineering job at the age of 80 in 1999. One of his friends asked Joe Paterno to videotape a retirement greeting. Joe didn’t know either of them, but he fulfilled the request. He sent a wonderful video greeting complimenting Dad on staying with the work he loved for so long. He said he only hoped he could continue his work as long.
I attended the 1984 Fiesta Bowl game with Dad, with a goal line seat where PSU’s game ending interception preserved their win and a very bad night for Vinnie Testaverde. We also went to the Rose Bowl game in 1995 and many other memorable games.
My husband and I ended our honeymoon with attendance at a PSU game, lived in State College for several years, and we’ve attended a game or two a year for the forty-one years of our marriage.
Dad, a good father, husband, PSU-educated engineer and citizen passed away in 2009 at age 89. I imagine he made mistakes in his life, maybe things he regretted. It is inconceivable to me that many decades of good could be utterly erased with one error.
I identify with the article in so many ways. I feel my memories have turned to ashes, yet it is Sandusky who did the vile acts. The PA attorney general has conducted a lengthy investigation and has not seen fit to charge Paterno with wrongdoing. He cooperated with the grand jury. Colleges have procedures for reporting such things. My career has been in human resources. People are instructed to whom to report. Those officials are supposed to get it right. It was the LEAST Joe could do, though. There is such outrage because the victims appear to have been the last consideration of all concerned.
I’d like to hear Paterno’s side of the story. It seems like there is a pack mentality right now.
The sum of Joe Paterno is not his decision years ago to report the shower incident to his athletic director, then apparently trust the system to work. It is a serious blemish, but not the sum of the man. I hate it that those boys suffered, and I hate it that for years to come, maybe forever, Joe’s name will be followed by Penn State sex scandal.
start skimping on morality, and its all down hill....I am so tired of people explaining away the Playboys, the Hooters, the Lady gag gag,etc....
Thank you for sharing your heart -- and memories -- and how they are so intertwined with your family and lifestages thru the years.
It's this article I posted -- coupled with posts like yours -- and Kay Ludlow's -- which has helped to put a "human face" on these issues...
It helps us to see how "vaporized" you feel life-memory-wise.
The PA attorney general has conducted a lengthy investigation and has not seen fit to charge Paterno with wrongdoing.
Scoutmaster, a FREEPER poster, convinced me yesterday afternoon that there was enough to leave Joe Paterno off the hook criminally. Since that time, I have pressed for Paterno's job -- not for him to be behind bars.
Colleges have procedures for reporting such things. My career has been in human resources. People are instructed to whom to report. Those officials are supposed to get it right.
Well, McQueary failed to call 9/11 and interrupt the assault. Sorry, but administrators are an extremely sorry "substitute" to stop assaults-upon-boys in progress on university campuses.
Paterno was then notified and met with McQueary the next morning. Possibly knowing that the assault could reoccur that very night, what did Paterno do? Why, per the Attorney General's Grand Jury Presentment (p. 7), he waited til Sunday to meet with VP Gary Schultz and AD Tim Curley, who then later met with McQueary.
Schultz' attorney is now saying these two passed it up to their superior(s). Excuse me, but upon what authority did Penn State determine it could keep running this up the "authority line" without ever bothering to tell the authorities?
Id like to hear Paternos side of the story. It seems like there is a pack mentality right now.
Well, his normal press conference was scheduled for today. But Penn State censored him, now didn't they?
The sum of Joe Paterno is not his decision years ago to report the shower incident to his athletic director, then apparently trust the system to work. It is a serious blemish, but not the sum of the man. I hate it that those boys suffered, and I hate it that for years to come, maybe forever, Joes name will be followed by Penn State sex scandal.
Well, below are a few of my "bottom lines" as to why Joe Paterno is to be "accountable." Not criminally mind you, but civilly, and morally, and ultimately, with his job:
Paterno didn't just tell McQueary "to report it," and then wash his hands of it. No! Paterno FIRST invited Curley & Schultz over to his house to discuss all of this BEFORE McQueary met with them.
IOW, Paterno puts credibility behind the weight of this report by sharing it FIRST with his superiors.
Why does this distinction matter?
#1 Because the way some tell it, it implies JoePa hears a report, isn't sure if it's credible or not, tells the person reporting to pass it on, and he's washed his hands of it. NOPE! Read the grand jury presentment report! Paterno weighs in on the reliability of this report by sharing it himself!
#2 Once a coach believes he has heard a very credible report, there's a certain thing that kicks in called long-term "responsibility." IOW, even after JoePa "did his duty" and passed it on to his superiors, he wasn't "done" there.
For the short run, yes. The long run? No!
JoePa, after finding out that Sandusky had never been arrested (perhaps many months/a year later) should have checked with McQueary to see if the authorities had ever interviewed him. At some point upon realizing that his superiors had flunked Basic Humanitarian Ethics 101, McQueary and Paterno both should have had an alarm kick in...ESPECIALLY knowing that Sandusky was continuing to have access to all these kids all over the state via sports camps thru The Second Mile and Sandusky Associates.
I don't think, Ntnychik, that you think JoePa was so senile between, say, 2003 to 2008 to the degree that he didn't know Sandusky was running all of these camps and still had Second Mile connections with kids?
Are you saying he had no moral obligation to exercise his considerable sphere of influence to ensure that a criminal investigation was jumpstarted somehow, somewhere? If only for the protection of those kids?
You know it's quite interesting that so many relay the Joe Paterno personality cult in State College and say he IS State College (a god, if you will). Yet suddenly...ironically...they portray Joe as this limp-minded guy unable to exercise a considerable sphere of influence...somebody who couldn't even indirectly ensure that the most subtle spark of an investigation was ignited.
Sorry, Penn Staters: You CAN'T have it both ways!
I always saw JoePa as the one bright spot remaining in an otherwise useless liberal reeducation camp.
This is a sad day for me, and for what we've become as a Commonwealth, and as a nation.
What top-flight recruit will want to play football at Penn State? How many high school kids (and their parents) are suddenly going to look elsewhere for a college because the name “Penn State” has been transformed to “Pedo State” and they don’t feel like being the brunt of jokes for the rest of their lives? The damage Sandusky and his enablers have done to the university cannot be overstated. Absolutely devastating.
Something possible to prepare for though....perhaps in tandem with the “Soviet States Networks” $$, is a big PR stunt attempt to bring the Puppet Spammer into this, with 50,000 cheering at the stadium. Wouldn’t suprise me a bit.
Sacrificing Paterno for the sins of Sandusky and the coverup mentality of the superiors is typical of a bureaucracy, be it the Catholic Church or the U.S. Department of Justice.
The original criminal and the Buck Stops Here desk are never under the gun--exemplia gratia: Johnny Sutton makes Ramos and Compean pay for the sin of Aldrete-Davila.
The act of witnessing a crime and not responding is nothing new: Kitty Genovese (Google it).
It's nothing more than throwing one person from the dog sled to slow the wolves down.
Further this deponeth sayeth not
Coincidently or maybe not. From 2000-2004 Penn State had their worst win-loss record (26-33) over any 4 year period in the history of the program. If this scandal would have come out then JoePa surely would have been gone as there was already a clamor to fire him over his losing ways.
I find it hard to believe that he did not kill Sandusky on the spot with the nearest heavy object to hand - let alone didn't call 911 right then and there, let alone didn't call 911 at all, let alone didn't follow up at all.
Good point. The glory of "the program" had to be protected at all costs, no matter how many more pre-teen boys would be sacrificed before the god of silence/betrayal.
One more thing...and I'm not saying that you were real intentional in framing it the way you did...but this wasn't simply a "sex" scandal. When a Penn State privileged individual becomes a predatory child rapist, yes, sex is the method of his violence; but rape is first and foremost an act of violence. And secondly, "sex" makes it sound like some sort of "consent" was involved.
Please don't reduce mass child-rape to the divine gift of sex. It comes across as downplaying what occurred here.
Thank you. I found that yesterday after searching.
Thank you nit, for sharing your experiences of the college and with your father and family. Knowing you, I’m sure you have been reading and keeping up with everything pertaining to the scandal and I feel your sorrow.
With the high powered, administrative career you had in education, I know you are well informed on how these things should be dealt with. I also know you to be the most decent of people and that you, personally, are crushed at the terrible crime committed against these young people.
I remember that game against Miami....it was the ultimate battle between “Good and Evil”. Here was cocky Miami, wearing battle fatigues and thugging it up, against nice, wholesome Penn State. And when Penn State won, it was great, the Evil Empire had been defeated.
Now, looking back, who was the evil empire, after all?
I am old enough that I have the cynicism that often comes with decades. I know that men are flawed; all of them, except for One who died on a cross. I had heroes in my childhood, but I have very, very few today. Last Sunday, I had one hero in college football. His name was Joe Paterno. I never attended Penn State, nor did my parents, nor siblings, nor any relative. I've lived around the country, but never in or particularly near Pennsylvania. As I said above, when I was boy in Seattle, I put black electrical tape on my backyard football helmet so I could be one of JoePa's Penn State players. I liked JoePa then.
As a man, I grew to respect JoePa, almost love him, with each passing year of the debauchery in college sports because Joe Paterno was, in my eyes, a moral, decent, good man.
I'm genetically a Texan. I'll make a contract with a handshake. When I say somebody is a "good man," I pack a lot in that one word, "good." When I say "a moral, decent, good man" . . . well . . . as I said, I have few heros.
I didn't say he was a legalistic man. Legalism is a refuge for cowards and scoundrels. A good man does what is right and morally sound, not what is minimally required of him or that which legally gives him cover.
I knew he was powerful. He earned that power through respect and (I'm not stupid) through winning college football games. But he didn't seem to abuse his power.
On Monday morning of this week, I read the Grand Jury presentment regarding Penn State coach emeritus Jerry Sandusky. On Tuesday, I read the Grand Jury report. I don't know if you have read them yet.
What you will discover is that something grotesquely obscene happened at Penn State over a period of years, probably since 1994, and at least since 1998. It didn't happen once. Or twice. It didn't happen unnoticed.
Most of the attention is about a single incident of anal rape of a pre-teen boy that took place in the Penn State football locker room showers in 2002. But that's in the middle of the story.
The story apparently begins as early as 1994 or earlier, but let's start in 1998. Jerry Sandusky worked with troubled youth as part of a charity called The Second Mile, which he helped found years earlier; Joe Paterno was actually on the board at some point, perhaps as a honorary trustee. Jerry Sandusky played for Joe Paterno from 1963-65, and served on his coaching staff starting in 1969. By 1998, Sandusky had served as defensive coordinator for years, was a close personal friend of Joe Paterno's (for almost thirty years), and was the 'heir apparent' to replace Joe Paterno. However, in 1998, the University Police conducted an investigation into incidents (plural) involving Sandusky showering with preteen boys in the Penn State football locker room showers. Sandusky would have been in his mid-50s. There's nothing appropriate about that. Forget molestation. When you're a man in your 50s working with troubled boys, showering naked with them is not therapy. It's wrong.
Based on complaints by a mother, a DA looked into allegations of molestation but decided he did not have enough evidence. I may be wrong (I do not have the stomach to go back and read the reports again), but I do not believe the University Police report file was available to the DA, and I do not believe the University Police reported Sandusky to legal authorities.
This was Paterno's defensive coordinator and friend and assistant coach of thirty years. It was the Penn State football locker room. What's fairly clear is that Sandusky's problem with little boys was widely known after (or before) the investigation. It would be disrespectful of Joe Paterno to think he was so naive and disrepected that everyone else would know and not tell Paterno.
Well, within months, Sandusky unexpectedly announced his early retirement. The official story is that Paterno told him that he would never be the head coach at Penn State. That's probably true. And he was probably told that because . . . he showered with little boys.
Instead of disassociating completely with Sandusky, Penn State or Joe Paterno - because Joe Paterno was, as far as anyone who knew and understood the program believes, the athletic department in 1999 - decided to grant Sandusky 'emeritus' status.
Instead of disassociating with him, they gave him an office in the athletic building, with keys to the facilities, a parking space, a phone, internet access, discounts on campus, a tuition discount for himself and his adopted children, the rights to hold sleepover youth athletic camps on campus, and the rights to bring boys with him to insider football program events, such as sidelines and pre-game banquets. If you envision a child molester as an old man luring boys with candy, then Sandusky's candy was bringing boys to the Penn State facilities and inside the football program, and Penn State - with Paterno's knowledge, or at Paterno's instruction - gave Sandusky the candy.
I have to believe that Paterno, as a decent man, could have called the President of Penn State into his home (he was that powerful) and said "no man who showers with boys is going to have access to MY football facilities." At the very least, Paterno could have kept Sandusky from bringing boys to special football events, such as pre-game banquets.
In 2000, a janitor caught Sandusky in the football showers again, performing oral sodomy on a preteen boy. He didn't report it to the police because he was 'too scared." Whether scared of long-time hero Sandusky (whose defense won the 1987 Orange Bowl National Championship), or bringing shame on Penn State, or reporting Joe Paterno's friend of three decades, we don't know. But I find it difficult to believe that Joe Paterno, who ran his program so that he knew if his boys broke curfew, even if it was in a town twenty miles away, would have heard that his good friend and former coach had another boy in the football showers. It was never reported and Joe Paterno apparently did nothing to stop Sandusky from bringing boys around to football events, to keep Sandusky from having access to the football showers, or . . . anything.
In 2002, Mike McQueary, former star QB for Penn State and then a graduate assistant, walked in on Sandusky anally raping a preteen boy in the football showers at 9:30 on a Friday night. McQueary didn't stop Sandusky (who had been a coach when McQueary played) or rescue the boy. He didn't call the police. He called his father and the decided that McQueary should report the incident to Paterno . . . the next morning. McQueary did.
Here's an open part of the story. Paterno says he was only told that there was "fondling" and "maybe something of a sexual nature." McQueary told his father it was anal rape. McQueary told the AD, Curley, and the Senior VP of Business and Finance, it was anal rape. Why wouldn't he tell Paterno that?
Both the Grand Jury presentment and the GJ findings are very careful not to disclosure what McQueary says he told Joe Paterno.
Paterno waited one day to call the AD, Curley, to whom he 'reports' on the organizational chart. Of course, in real life in 2002, everybody really reported to Paterno. Paterno was the man with the power that came with respect, 34 years of coaching, and National Championships.
Curley and Schultz did nothing. They never reported the incident to the University Police, state youth protection, or any law enforcement. Sandusky kept his office in the Athletic building and emeritus status until this Sunday. He held sleepover camps for boys (although on the University's other campus) through the Athletic Department until 2008.
Joe Paterno says "I fulfilled my legal duty. I reported to my superior." And then he never followed up. He never asked about police involvement, or why Sandusky was still around, or hosting camps, or why Sandusky wasn't charged with anything. Nobody at Penn State even tried to find out the identity of the boy who was raped.
The Pennsylvania State Police Commission stated publicly that Joe Paterno had a moral duty to report this to the police.
But for nine years, Joe Paterno, whom I believed to be a righteous, decent, moral man, hid behind the "I told my superior" and watched as Sandusky still roamed freely. He either didn't ask any questions . . . or he didn't care what was heard.
And now, we find that as of yesterday, there are twenty know victims of Sandusky, while there were only eight in the indictment. And we wonder why the indictment and these details were held until Joe Paterno could pass the All-Time Wins As A Division I Coach record. Because they were held.
There are plenty of people to blame. Penn State's president should resign (I haven't even discussed his involvement). Mike McQueary should never coach again.
But it wasn't an incident in the showers in 2002. It was an unspeakable pattern of activities taking place at Penn State since at least 1998, and hushed up. And Joe Paterno knew and didn't speak.
I'm left having to make one of two assumptions. Either my hero placed a friendship of 30+ years and the desire not to tarnish the Penn State name over the safety of preteen boys, and did that since Sandusky was given emeritus status and allowed to bring boys to football events back in 1998, without Joe Paterno taking a stand or speaking out . . . or Joe Paterno was a clueless, incompetent figurehead dating back to 1998, and while everyone around him knew that Joe's friend was molesting boys in the showers of Joe's football program, Joe was the only person who didn't know about it.
And suddenly, these programs who give cars and cash to players? When you have everyone from the President of the University on down apparently involved in some way actively covering up child rape, or sweeping it under the rug, or ignoring it, or saying "it kicked it up the ladder, so why look at me, I didn't need to speak out?", those cars and cash are not even in the same category.
When I read about a veteran of D-Day dying, I grieve. This is not quite the same. But I lost my youth. I lost my innocence. I realize that power does corrupt. I lost JoePa. Now, he's an old man who sat silent for fourteen years or more, allowing more boys to be molested, to protect a friend, or the reputation of Penn State and its football program.
This reminds me of when my Scoutmaster died.
Above all, let us not forget these young boys. Their suffering far surpasses anything we feel as alumni, or fans of Penn State or Joe Paterno.
14-10. And Sandusky was the hero. This was Linebacker U. Sandusky was the defensive coordinator and his defensive schemes - and directions to hit Michael Irvin hard and continually - were credited then and now with the win.
Sandusky was revered as the architect of the famous Penn State defense and the reason for that National Championship. . . which may have had a residual effect on the treatment he received even after 1998.