For my more thorough analysis, please refer to my post “Eight Year Olds, Dude,” which I wrote when the story first broke (albeit 13 years too late) back in November, 2011.
But with Joe Pa’s statue being removed and the NCAA penalties handed down today, I would be remiss if I didn’t add a few important notes, thoughts and relevant links after having time to reflect, vomit a few times, shake my head enough that I may have damaged a few vertebrae, digest Lucifer Satandusky’s trial and its analysis, digest the Freeh report and its analysis and fallout, vomit a few more times, nod my head with disdain and disgust because I knew back in November that evidence of a massive cover up was all but certainly forthcoming, and control my anger at the rhetoric of Joe Pa’s family members (who may be the only people on earth who are entitled to defend the man on any grounds, but still, in my opinion, have gone too far in confusing/confounding the issues with the facts)… and I continue to shake my head in utter disbelief as I type this….
1) Joe Pa’s statue should have remained standing…not only for his achievements as a coach on the field and in the Penn State community, but more as a constant reminder of how he failed…failed his recruits, his fellow coaches, his beloved University, the NCAA and the entire sporting world, but most of all, how he failed those kids abused by Satandusky…all of them, those who had the courage to come forward and the countless others (and I am certain there are countless others) who have either not yet mustered that courage, never will, or are no longer around to be counted.
One huge caveat: The statue should be turned around to face the wall behind it, because as great as Joe Pa was as a football coach, he was clearly even better at LOOKING THE OTHER WAY!
2) I am not entirely sure all of the players in this cover up have been identified at this point. In fact, I am fairly certain there are others, even if they aren’t ever identified or indicted for their involvement. For starters, please do yourselves a favor and read this well-written piece that questions the participation of Pennsylvania’s current Governor, Tom Corbett. Though his side of the story deserves to be told before eviscerating him, I am sure there are myriad State, County and City officials that played a role in the cover up, even if their action (or inaction) was just looking the other way, not following up on a lead or warning or failing to act in a noble way at some point when they otherwise might have.
There are also potential complicit parties throughout college football. Remember, Satandusky was widely regarded as one of if not the top defensive mind in all of college football, and the heir apparent to Joe Pa. So when Satandusky left PSU in 1999 to “spend more time with his charity, The Second Mile,” in the prime of a head coach’s career (55 years old is about the average age of all head coaches in football)…one serious question to ponder is why he wasn’t seriously pursued by other college programs. My bet is he was, and that somewhere along their vetting process, they caught wind of Satandusky’s proclivities and potential legal problems. So the large, unanswered questions are: which other college ADs knew, when did they know and why didn’t THEY follow up with this in any way?
3) The punishment handed down today by Mark Emmert and the NCAA was swift and fair. Sure, it may have been based solely on the Freeh report and Satandusky verdict, without fully vetting the back-story and true extent of criminal activity, but at this point, it is clear there was an egregious and soulless series of crimes committed, and an even more egregious and soulless cover up that made it all the way up the PSU hierarchy to the highest levels. No matter how this all shakes out in the end, there was basis for levying the most severe punitive repercussions ever to PSU and their football program, and there was also an opportunity to preemptively warn all other schools and athletic programs overseen by the NCAA that institutional corruption of any kind will not be tolerated and will be dealt with swiftly, severely and to the fullest extent of the powers entrusted to the NCAA. Cannon fire was blasted across the bows of all collegiate athletic programs today, and was done so appropriately, before the start of the 20012-13 athletic season, allowing innocent members of the PSU team to leave if they desire and ample time to land on their feet elsewhere.
Oh, and to all of those who believe the NCAA has no jurisdiction here, that PSU’s transgressions did not give the school or team a competitive advantage…I say in my best Jimmy Fallon/Amy Poehler voice, “REALLY?!?!” The cover up was orchestrated for one reason…so BIG FOOTBALL could continue unfettered in Happy Valley and the money machine could keep churning…which in turn, served to give PSU the greatest competitive advantage ever…had this story broke in 1998 or in 2001 without any cover up, the school would probably not have been given the de facto “Death Penalty,” or worse, as they were today. But they would certainly have suffered in reputation, lost recruits, and by being sued by the families of those victims, albeit fewer of them, who came forward at that time. I cannot calculate how much all of that would have diminished the strength of the football program or for how many years, but I can guarantee it would have…I can also guarantee Joe Pa would have had to retire earlier than he did, and that the program would have gone through a rebuilding era from the top down. So to argue no competitive advantage was gained by covering up the Satandusky affair and thus the NCAA had no jurisdiction to penalize PSU is akin to arguing that Tito was the most talented Jackson, or that the Godfather Part III was the best in the series.
4) To all those who think the penalties were too harsh, particularly for the athletes who had nothing to do with this scandal: Football players had a choice to go to PSU over other schools, and due to the early ruling as well as unprecedented loophole allowing all players to transfer this year with no time lost AND any school who claims a PSU player to add a roster spot and scholarship beyond the NCAA cap to do so…they will all have a choice to leave if they so desire.
THE VICTIMS NEVER HAD A CHOICE
5) There is a serious problem in our society today stemming from the stigma associated with certain crimes, most notably sexual abuse. Victims often remain silent from shame and personal guilt, allowing perpetrators free reign to victimize others. Furthermore, as evidenced by McQueary’s and the janitors’ cowardly reactions to what they witnessed, even those peripheral to the crimes, who weren’t victims themselves, are often so disgusted, shocked and confused by what they see that they fail to act in a way others would hope they should. Case in point: If a man sees another man kick or punch a child, I am certain that man would intervene. And if the aggressor was much larger than the witness, I am certain the witness would call the authorities and MAKE SURE the perpetrator was brought to justice and the child was out of harm’s way. But in the case of sexual abuse, more often than not, witnesses fail to act as they would for violent acts. Sure, perhaps McQueary’s reaction (telling Joe Pa and his father) would have succeeded if it weren’t for the larger efforts to cover up Satandusky’s acts by McQueary’s boss and PSU’s “leadership.” But in the moment, when McQueary actually witnessed the abuse, I am almost certain his reaction would have been different had he seen Satandusky beating the child and not raping the child.
6) It has been said that “the cover up is always worse than the crime.” In this case, I am not sure that is 100% true, but it is pretty friggin’ close. And the fact that the cover up allowed further abuse to occur…the innocence of additional children to be stripped from them…may just pull this cover up even with, in my opinion, the worst atrocity that can be committed by one human being against another in the annals of all sins, from envy all the way down to murder.
7) No matter how awful things are at Penn State right now, and how horribly their football team and other athletic programs are affected as a result of these near crippling penalties; and no matter how much worse it gets when the civil cases begin and the Brinks trucks are backed into the driveways of all of the plaintiffs’ homes, THE VICTIMS ARE AND ALWAYS SHOULD BE OUR NUMBER ONE CONCERN…please, never lose sight of that fact.