“In order to avoid the consequences of bad publicity, the most powerful leaders at Penn State University – Messrs. Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley – repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky’s child abuse from the authorities, the Board of Trustees, Penn State community, and the public at large.” – Louis Freeh
Joe lied. Joe lied and continued to live that lie for 14 years. During that time Jerry Sandusky was allowed full access of Penn State University, its facilities, alumni, donors, fans and children. Now after reading the complete Freeh investigative report not only was Jerry allowed all of these amenities, when his “problem” was revealed, he was encouraged to be a Positive Action for Youth.
Joe was not alone. Former University President Graham Spanier, athletic director Tim Curley and former University Vice President Gary Schultz all took part in this lie. For those that were hoping for a silver lining to the disgusting story that has engulfed Penn State for the last eight months today gave no solace.
Since the press conference and the release of the report Thursday morning many different words have been used to try to describe and in some parts defend the actions of Paterno, Spanier, Schultz and Curley. Misstep, mistake, slipped have been used by zealous Penn State fans coping with the fall of their idol to a former player interviewed on a large cable sports network to the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company who now realizes he misspoke at Paterno’s memorial service.
Truth is none of these words describes what happened. This was a conscious effort to lie and fabricate a false reality to preserve “Happy Valley”. This was a lie used to preserve a coach’s legacy, a university and a football program. This was a lie that ruined the lives of young boys.
Young vulnerable boys that idolized Penn State football looking for something to believe in, they are the only victims in this story. These lies enabled Jerry Sandusky and fed his grotesque appetite. Innocent children who needed help and the leadership at Penn State ignored them. The only help that they received was lip service behind closed doors that he was not to bring his “guests” into the Penn State facilities.
“There is an over-emphasis on ‘The Penn State Way’ as an approach to decision-making, a resistance to seeking outside perspectives, and an excessive focus on athletics that can, if not recognized, negatively impact the university’s reputation as a progressive institution.” – Louis Freeh
For 61 years the Penn State Way was defined by Paterno’s “Grand Experiment”. Honesty, integrity, loyalty, character this was the embodiment and Penn State brand. In the wake of the report we now know it was more of do as I say not as I do. The area around State College, PA feels remote and protected from the outside world. Couple that with the apotheosis stature that Joe Paterno had reached and the blind trust fans and alumni afforded the University provided a breeding ground for corruption. With great power comes great responsibility and in the darkest moment real character is revealed. In both instances Penn State failed.
The four men who led this cover up of a monster for 14 years abused that power. They spit on the character of the gospel they preached.
“Bad publicity affects a panorama of different events including the brand of Penn State, including the university, including the reputation of coaches, including the ability to do fundraising. It’s got huge implications.” – Louis Freeh
In the report after Curley spoke with Joe and changed his mind on not reporting the 2001 incident Spanier responded, “The only downside for us if the message isn’t “heard” and acted upon than we become vulnerable for not having reported it. But that can be addressed down the road. The approach you outline is humane and a reasonable way to proceed.”
Well, here we are “down the road” addressing it. And because Paterno, Spanier, Curley and Schultz did not report it Sandusky now sits in jail after being found guilty on 45 of 48 counts of sexually assaulting young boy’s. None of the testimony sounded humane or reasonable.
In the end the old boys club at Penn State lied and Sandusky was allowed to continue to prey and rape young boys because to report it might tarnish Penn State’s reputation, its football program and fundraising. Never once did anyone think to report it might save the life of another helpless victim. That truly would have been the reasonable and humane way to proceed.