The horrible stain on the reputation of Penn State left by Jerry Sandusky will take years to fade away from our collective subconscious. No matter how much retribution and positive PR is done, in the back of our minds, we’ll always connect the once-great football university with the disgusting crimes committed by one of the school staff. But apparently, the governor of the state doesn’t believe that the entire university should be tarnished by one man’s actions. Or the myriad of ways in which the administration of the school failed to act on warning signs or take accusations seriously. Or the general attitude that football is somehow more important than keeping pedophiles away from children.
While Jerry Sandusky’s actions were revolting, the response from some in the university complex was also extremely troublesome. Even though school administrators turned a blind eye while one of their colleagues attacked young men he was pretending to help, some in the state were more worried about Joe Paterno‘s legacy, than the lives of Sandusky’s victims. In fact, after news of Sandusky’s crimes came to light, students rioted. Not in protest of dangerous men being allowed to hang around campus and kept out of prison, they rioted in support of Penn State football.
Unfortunately for Penn State, the NCAA was not nearly as concerned with coaching legacies or school pride. In fact, the handed out some of the harshest punishments ever to the school who protected a child molester in their midst. They fined the school football program $60 million, to be paid to a charity that helps victims of child abuse. They took away every victory of the past 14 years. The school also can’t compete in a bowl game for the next four years, though it’s doubtful that Penn State would have the financial resources or the appeal to put together a team capable of competing in a bowl.
Instead of accepting their punishment and working to address the fundamental flaws in Penn State’s administration that allowed such a monster to continue to be involved in the football program, it looks like the school is ready to fight back against its sanctions. The governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Corbett, has announced that he’ll be suing the NCAA to combat the punishments that Penn State received.
The Freeh report, the comprehensive investigation conducted by a former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations Louis Freeh, categorically states that people within Penn State helped protect Jerry Sandusky. It says:
“Our most saddening and sobering finding is the total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky’s child victims by the most senior leaders at Penn State. The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized. Messrs. Spanier, [vice president Gary] Schultz, Paterno and [Tim] Curley never demonstrated, through actions or words, any concern for the safety and well-being of Sandusky’s victims until after Sandusky’s arrest.”
This school and the people who ran it let their students, their alumni, and their community down. They let those children down, who became victims because a single disgusting man was allowed to prey on young people when he should’ve been behind bars.
Penn State should be learning from this horror and doing everything in their power to make sure nothing like it ever happens again. They should not be fighting against their punishments, as if they don’t deserve the harsh treatment they’re receiving. They shouldn’t still be concerned with a football program or a coach’s legacy, as opposed to the breakdown of accountability and morality that allowed Sandusky to get away with these awful crimes.
The governor of Pennsylvania should have plenty to do right now. He should have plenty of battles to fight. But he shouldn’t be directing his energy towards those trying to hold the school accountable. He shouldn’t be fighting against those punishments. He should be making sure the school never gets itself in such a position again.