Tag Archives: Jerry Sandusky

Penn State: The Freeh report comes out today

Penn Staters are facing yet another dark morning of the soul today. I don’t have high expectations that the Freeh report will result in anyone being exonerated, any opinions being changed and certainly not any healing. We’re still where we were in November:

I don’t know when and if I’ll read the report or comment on it.

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If you can handle it, an update in the Jerry Sandusky scandal

The Jerry Sandusky Case Gets Weirder, BusierBlack Shoe Diaries
In case you are wondering what is going on in the scandal that Jerry Sandusky unleashed on Penn State, visit that link above. In short, whiskey-tango-foxtrot in perpetuity. Everybody lost and that’s never going to change. Well, Sandusky may win, because the Pennsylvania prosecutors appear incompetent. For alums like me, the reputation of our alma mater will probably never be repaired. So, I guess Gov. Tom Corbett won in that regard too. I still need to break down an article about him here.

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Graham Spanier is the second biggest villain in the Sandusky scandal

Members of Penn State’s Trustees Recall Painful Decision to Fire Paterno – The Times
I don’t think this article about the collective discernment that the Board of Trustees will change anybody’s opinion of that body and I am not suggesting that either. What is the important about this report are the details of Graham Spanier‘s overwhelming incompetence. The character assassination (which was self-inflicted) of him is finally gaining momentum. His cowardice has been rewarded up until now.

I have more to write about Spanier, but it might take me a while.

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My reactions to the Sally Jenkins interview with Joe Paterno

Joe Paterno finally put out his side of the story nearly two months after a grand jury indicted Jerry Sandusky on many counts of doing horrible things to boys. I am glad that Paterno finally spoke, even though he doesn’t say much. It needs to be mentioned that the journalist, Sally Jenkins, was handpicked by Paterno and his PR firm. Paterno is also undergoing cancer treatment and was hospitalized later in the day the interview was concluded. Make sure you read the whole story (linked below) before reading my points.

My approach to this was an odd dichotomy — I already concluded in November that Paterno lost the moral standing to be head football coach, but I feel he has been unfairly scapegoated and made at focus of this scandal when there are several people, namely Gary Schultz, university president Graham Spanier (the contempt I have for him!) and of course, Sandusky who are far more culpable. Schultz, along with Tim Curley, athletic director, have yet to be fired and are on administrative leave and are charged with perjury. Apparently, that is less of a crime than actually reporting to them the Sandusky allegations.

Joe Paterno’s first interview since the Penn State-Sandusky scandalThe Post

How Sandusky, 67, allegedly evaded detection by state child services, university administrators, teachers, parents, donors and Paterno himself remains an open question. “I wish I knew,” Paterno said. “I don’t know the answer to that. It’s hard.”

Yes, Sanduksy was undetected for years by countless people, not just Joe Paterno.

“I didn’t know exactly how to handle it and I was afraid to do something that might jeopardize what the university procedure was,” he said. “So I backed away and turned it over to some other people, people I thought would have a little more expertise than I did. It didn’t work out that way.”

That is certainly plausible and even reasonable, but I am not satisfied with it from the moral authority of college football. He should have followed up more and he admitted he did not. Paterno used the perception of being the morale authority of college football to build a tremendous amount power for himself and his program.

Paterno is accused of no wrongdoing, and in fact authorities have said he fulfilled his legal obligations by reporting to his superiors.

This is forgotten by many. Legal responsibility is a lower standard than moral responsibility though.

Nevertheless, the university Board of Trustees summarily dismissed him with a late-night phone call four days after Sandusky’s arrest. At about 10 p.m., Paterno and Sue were getting ready for bed when the doorbell rang. An assistant athletic director was at the door, and wordlessly handed Sue a slip of paper. There was nothing on it but the name of the vice chairman of trustees, John Surma, with a phone number. They stood frozen by the bedside in their nightclothes, Sue in a robe and Paterno in pajamas and a Penn State sweatshirt. Paterno dialed the number. Surma told Paterno, “In the best interests of the university, you are terminated.” Paterno hung up and repeated the words to his wife. She grabbed the phone and redialed.

“After 61 years he deserved better,” she snapped. “He deserved better.”

Paterno did deserve better, much better than the way this was handled. Still, there was no way he could have been on the sidelines again. I remember the saying from Russell Frank’s media ethics class — if it appears you have a conflict of interest, you have a conflict of interest. I said initially, that Paterno should have resigned outright as soon as the scandal broke because 1.) he still had some moral authority left 2.) show the administration that failed everyone, except Jerry Sandusky, the way out the door. The board should have put Paterno on administrative leave — it was good enough for two administrators, Gary Schultz and Tim Curley who had in the eyes of the prosecution perjured themselves. Graham Spanier, the former university president, who should have been terminated based on his complete refusal to engage in crisis management, resigned just before the board would have fired him.

Paterno was initially reluctant to speak because “I wanted everybody to settle down,” he said. But he is so eager to defend his record that he insisted on continuing the interview from his bedside Friday morning, though ill. He was hospitalized for observation later in the day due to complications from the chemo but, according to the family, had improved by Saturday morning.

Remember, Spanier, canceled Paterno’s regular Tuesday press conference after the allegations broke. Spanier’s only other action — publicly supporting Schultz and Curley.

What Penn State officials knew about Sandusky and when is the subject of no fewer than five formal investigations. They range from state Attorney General Linda Kelly’s criminal investigation of Sandusky, to an NCAA inquiry, to Penn State’s in-house inquiry led by former FBI director Louis J. Freeh. The best-case scenario is that the institutional leaders were guilty of blindness, and an unfeeling self-absorption. The worst case is a criminal cover-up to protect a wealthy university’s reputation.

Yup. By the way, I have serious concerns about the attorney generals who investigated this case — why has the Second Mile where the alleged victims were found by Sandusky, been a bigger focus than Penn State?

On a Saturday morning in 2002, an upset young assistant coach named Mike McQueary knocked on Paterno’s door to tell him he had witnessed a shocking scene in the Penn State football building showers. Until that moment, Paterno said, he had “no inkling” that Sandusky might be a sexual deviant. By then Sandusky was a former employee, with whom Paterno had little to do. Although Sandusky had been his close coaching associate and helped fashion Penn State defenses for three decades, their relationship was “professional, not social,” as Paterno described it. “He was a lot younger than me.”

This is an important point missed by many outside of the immediate Penn State community — Sandusky and Paterno were not friends. I do not believe Paterno socialized with any of his coaching staff.

Sandusky retired in 1999, shortly after Penn State made the Alamo Bowl. The timing was curious. Paterno’s understanding was that Sandusky took early retirement on his recommendation after Paterno told him frankly that he would not become his successor. The state was offering 30-year employees a handsome buyout, and Paterno believed Sandusky should take it. Paterno was frustrated that Sandusky spent so much time working on his youth foundation, The Second Mile, that he was not available to help in recruiting and other coaching duties…

“He came to see me and we talked a little about his career,” Paterno said. “I said, you know, Jerry, you want to be head coach, you can’t do as much as you’re doing with the other operation. I said this job takes so much detail, and for you to think you can go off and get involved in fundraising and a lot of things like that. . . . I said you can’t do both, that’s basically what I told him.

Concerns about Sandusky’s dueling commitments was also cited as a reason Sandusky was unable to get hired for the University of Virginia opening.

Paterno insists he was completely unaware of a 1998 police investigation into a report from a Second Mile mother that Sandusky had inappropriately touched her son in a shower. The inquiry ended when the local prosecutor declined to bring charges. “You know it wasn’t like it was something everybody in the building knew about,” Paterno said. “Nobody knew about it.”

This was one of my big questions when the story break — who knew in 1998 and was a deal made to let Sandusky retire “honorably” instead of pressing charges? The answer is Paterno did not know and thus was not part of any “deal” with Sandusky. Had he been, I’d be asking for the statue to come down.

Paterno contends that ignorance was the context with which he heard McQueary’s disturbing story in 2002…“He was very upset and I said why, and he was very reluctant to get into it,” Paterno said. “He told me what he saw, and I said, what? He said it, well, looked like inappropriate, or fondling, I’m not quite sure exactly how he put it. I said you did what you had to do. It’s my job now to figure out what we want to do. So I sat around. It was a Saturday. Waited till Sunday because I wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing. And then I called my superiors and I said: ‘Hey, we got a problem, I think. Would you guys look into it?’ Cause I didn’t know, you know. We never had, until that point, 58 years I think, I had never had to deal with something like that. And I didn’t feel adequate.”

Legally, Paterno correct in reporting it to his superiors. He did put a lot of thought into it, but still came to a conclusion that was, in mind, insufficient.

At that point, Paterno set up a meeting for McQueary and Curley, the athletic director, and Schultz, who oversaw university police. McQueary has testified that he gave both men a far more graphic description of what he witnessed…Schultz and Curley have maintained that McQueary failed to impart the seriousness of what he saw to them as well. They never told police about the allegation, instead informing Sandusky he could no longer bring children to university facilities.

Currently, the prosecutors agree with McQueary’s assessment and that is why Curley and Schultz are accused of perjury.

Paterno has said, “In hindsight, I wish I had done more.

Paterno’s portrait of himself is of an old-world man profoundly confused by what McQueary told him, and who was hesitant to make follow-up calls because he did not want to be seen as trying to exert any influence for or against Sandusky. “I didn’t know which way to go,” he said. “And rather than get in there and make a mistake . . .”

Paterno wasn’t always so reluctant to put in a call on some things and the “old-world man” idea is in a way choosing to be blind to something. That’s a tough spot, that I can’t come to a conclusion on. Not wanting to mess up an investigation?

According to Sollers, the attorney, Paterno has no legal exposure in the Sandusky case. Paterno has cooperated fully with the investigation, and has “met on multiple occasions voluntarily” with representatives from the attorney general’s office, Sollers said. “In my judgment Coach Paterno has no legal liability in this matter. In fact, he acted completely appropriately in reporting the only allegation he received to his superiors and had every expectation that the allegation would be investigated thoroughly.”

Like I said earlier, legal and moral are two different things. That’s Paterno’s attorney speaking too.

The Paternos say they think about the real potential victims every time they look at their own children. “I got three boys and two girls,” Paterno said. “It’s sickening.” His knee-jerk response is to go back to Flatbush. “Violence is not the way to handle it,” he said. “But for me, I’d get a bunch of guys and say let’s go punch somebody in the nose.” Sue Paterno is more blunt. “If someone touched my child, there wouldn’t be a trial, I would have killed them,” she said. “That would be my attitude, because you have destroyed someone for life.”

Other people’s kids, well he’d just tell his bosses and hope for the best it seems.

The Sandusky investigation has torn apart a cloistered town-and-gown community where everyone knows everyone — including Sandusky.

The university community there and elsewhere is fighting itself over this scandal.

If nothing else, the Paternos say, perhaps the Sandusky case will raise consciousness in other communities the way it has been raised in theirs. “We are going to become a more aware society,” Sue said. “Maybe we will look for clues.” She wonders what signs she missed all those years, when they felt so successful and sure of themselves.

Hardly an original thought, but true nonetheless (see, Bernie Fine)

It remains to be seen, barring any new revelations, whether there will be a reappraisal of Paterno’s life and record at Penn State. Eventually, his family hopes, there will be healing and forgiveness in the community, and the outlines of the man they insist Paterno is, and not the monument or monumental target, will reemerge: A modest, decent, fundamentally devoted coach who always loved books more than money.

I think he will be remembered more charitably as we move away from this, but the first paragraph of his obituary will have “Jerry Sanduksy” in it.

Paterno’s record is not perfect. Anyone who won on his scale has an ungenerous competitive streak and nascent ego. His love for higher learning — he likes to name-drop Puccini and Virgil — could tip over into superiority. He could show a temper, as he did in 1995 when a camera caught him delivering a profane on-field tirade.

Really, the Doug Graber “incident” gets brought up?

His football program was not immune to the problems of big-time college athletics. An ESPN inquiry found that from 2002 to 2007, 46 Penn State football players faced criminal charges. But he liked working with problem cases and turning them around. “Hotshots,” he still calls them today. The 2007 team had 19 players who earned Academic all-Big Ten honors. “The bigger the problem the guy was, the more I enjoyed it when we had success,” he said.

That ESPN 46 players inquiry was full on inaccuracies and perhaps overblown. Basically, the football team had a “a drinking and fighting problem” that was not unique to football players at Penn State. Does that excuse it, of course not. Was it bad, yes, but it wasn’t exactly the Luther Campbell Hurricanes either.

His philosophy was simple. “My thing was play as hard as you can, don’t be stupid, pay attention to details, and have enough guts in the clutch that you’re not afraid to make a play,” he said. “

In the Jerry Sandusky matter, did Joe Paterno live by that philosophy? My conclusion is, sadly, he did not live up to it.

The moral I take from the whole story is if you see something going wrong, make sure you do everything you can to get the right people involved, namely the police. Don’t count on superiors or anybody else to do it for you.

FURTHER READING

CHAT: Joe Paterno interview: Sally Jenkins discusses her talk with ex-Penn State coach -The Post
Penn State Football: 65 Days Later, Why Jenkins Got the Call From PaternoStateCollege.com
Washington Post writer Sally Jenkins talks to ComRadio – ComRadio

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May no act of ours bring shame

upsidedownpennstateflag
That headline above is the first line of the last verse of the Pennsylvania State University Alma Mater, sung before football games among other places. Due to the apparent actions of one and the inaction of many, my university, not just the football program, has been shamed to an extent that is unfathomable.

I have spent the last several days trying to process the indictments against former Nittany Lions defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. For years, Sandusky is alleged to have abused boys in unspeakable ways. He will have his day in court (provided he doesn’t kill himself) and perhaps I will address him at the conclusion of his trial. My focus here is on what the administration of my university did not do in the face of apparent evil.

In 2002 Sandusky, who had retired in 1999 but retained full access to the program as an emeritus professor, was allegedly caught by a graduate assistant in a football building shower with a boy committing a horrible crime. The distraught graduate assistant reported it to head coach Joe Paterno, who reported to his superior Tim Curley that something had happened. Whether Paterno reported the specifics is unclear. Curley reported the alleged incident to university vice president Gary Schultz, who oversees campus police. Other than a slap on the wrist that was unenforceable, Sandusky faced no formal sanction or even an investigation from campus police. The higher the allegation went up the chain of command, the less serious it was taken.

The grad assistant and Paterno respected the chain of command of the closed culture of the football program and university, and it failed him. I can only imagine how often he has second guessed himself the last 9 years. Curley and Schultz are facing perjury charges and have taken administrative leave after giving testimony that the grand jury felt contradicted the grad assistant and Paterno. It is beyond my understanding that they have not yet resigned outright. Why Schultz chose not to have the campus police investigate the situation is beyond comprehension. Why university president Graham Spanier went along with this is also something I cannot understand. Even if they were unwilling to proceed legally, they could have used the power that the university has to keep Sandusky off campus and away from the program. Were they really worried about due process within the university’s own rules and regulations? What were they worried about? Would Sanduksy complain to the Faculty Sen
ate or sue them and thus bring scruntity upon himself? Unbelievable! I feel a tremendous amount of anger and contempt towards the administration for doing NOTHING. Sandusky, apparently continued to use the football program facilities until LAST WEEK.

Next up is Paterno. For the last 4 decades, he has portrayed himself as the conscience of college football and has largely acted accordingly. This, combined with winning more games than any other Division I coach, gave him tremendous power over not just his own football program, but the entire university. He has been bigger than the university since at last 1983 when after winning Penn State first consensus National Championship, he challenged the university to make itself better and went and raised hundreds of millions of dollars to serve that end. Paterno may have been bigger than the university even earlier, perhaps when he said this at commencement in 1973 in reference to Richard Nixon crowing Texas as the 1969 National Champion before the bowl games with Penn State ranked #2:

I don’t understand how Richard Nixon could know so much about college football in 1969 and so little about Watergate in 1973

To paraphrase his own words:

I don’t understand how Joe Paterno could know so much about Watergate in 1973 and so little about what was going on in the football building in 2002.

While Paterno was apparently responsible in accordance of the law, that is not good enough! Someone so powerful, who was educated by Jesuits and the Ivy League, and who asserted his moral authority so many times before is compelled to do more than than Paterno did. He had the power and he chose not to use it. He could have done more! He chose not to and that is why he needs to step down immediately.

When the scandal first broke, I felt Paterno needed to resign, perhaps 50% because he did not do enough and 50% because he was the only administrator with any moral authority left and could use that one final time by leading the way for the others in doing the right thing for the university. At this time, he has neglected to do so. Frankly, I don’t really care about his legacy any more, because people create their own legacy and this is part of his whether he likes it or not, whether it is fair or not. He failed to live up to the values he preached in a most critical time. Free tattoos, cars, cash for recruits and all the other recent scandals are ultimately trivial compared what apparently occurred at Penn State.

The predator will have his day in court. The alleged victims…may they somehow find peace and strength after their ordeals that no one had the temerity to stop. The university has been shamed not only by an alleged predator, but by those who did not stand up to him. They should and will pay with their careers and good names. Penn State will need to find its way again with stronger people, stricter rules and more compassion. It will likely never be the same. Maybe it never actually was what they told us.

- William F. Yurasko
Class of 1999

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