You’ve all read the media take on the information recently released by the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas in the case of Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association, Penn State’s insurer, with the University. Whether Penn State was negligent in allowing the Sandusky molestations to occur was a central issue.
Sworn testimony by witnesses, if correct, opens old wounds and throws salt in them, revealing that Joe Paterno could have known as early as 1976 that Jerry Sandusky was a child molester, and at that time he had indeed waved the accuser away, stating that he didn’t have time for that kind of stuff, that he had a football season to worry about. Beyond Paterno, names that have never before surfaced in this case came to the fore as potentially having been aware of the Tickle Monster’s pedophilia. Those names include Tom Bradley and Greg Schiano, both of whom are now defensive coordinators at other universities, UCLA and Ohio State, respectively. They both deny everything.
The Penn State Administration has declined comment on the entire affair. President Eric J. Barron sent out a letter stating that there would be no comment whatsoever, stating that it had already been covered by media, and that the University’s overriding concern was for the victims of the Sandusky abuse. What else could he say?
Barron did provide a paragraph of hand-waving defense for Paterno, Schiano, and Bradley:
Although settlements have been reached, it also is important to reiterate that the alleged knowledge of former Penn State employees is not proven, and should not be treated as such. Some individuals deny the claims, and others are unable to defend themselves.
True, Paterno is dead and the others have moved on. It was particularly interesting to this turkey that Bradley, who had stated many times that he was a Pennsylvania boy who would not stray far from the Keystone State, wound up in Los Angeles. His first non-PSU job at WVU I could understand, but UCLA was out of character. Did he accept the UCLA job in the interest of getting out of Dodge or did he merely readjust his life goals when a top-tier opportunity arose?
I don’t consider myself gullible, but I can believe that Paterno swept lots of crap under the rug during his lifetime at Penn State, and it’s no stretch to include that 1976 encounter. Perhaps St. Joe’s halo is a bit tarnished now even among his staunchest and most reverent supporters. Even those who sanctify Joe and his achievements know that “Culture of Football” is an apt moniker for the damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead approach of the Paterno Era. If you’re offended by my saying so, tough shit, but you’re in denial if you think running a football program is all tailgating and cuddly puppies. There’s shit to be shoveled, too, and to succeed, you’ve got to stoke the shit furnace.
Perhaps it was a different age 40 years ago, but although society and its mores have evolved onto some strange paths in that time, one very relevant notion has remained constant. Child molesters were reviled then and they are reviled now. If a kid or a parent came to Paterno with a report of Sandusky molesting a kid in the shower, Paterno should have acted on it. He had a moral and legal obligation to do so. Brushing it aside only speaks to the imperial bearing of the Paterno Administration. President Richard M. Nixon shouldn’t have given Texas the presidential MNC blessing; what he should have done instead is to have awarded the Paterno Administration the Nixonian Medal of Duplicity.
I still believe that many of the ideals of the Paterno Era were real and good — really good: Success with Honor; The Grand Experiment; superb graduation rate. These were great things. Things to be proud of. Things to live our lives by. I don’t think they were superficial or hypocritical; however, I’m nonetheless personally prepared to believe that in being so driven by the central theme of success of the field, Paterno could have easily brushed off someone making a serious allegation against one of his assistants — just as easily as he typically attempted to circumvent the student disciplinary process at Penn State in order to keep his players on the field. But then again, we ran Vicky Triponey out of town because she dared to suggest that St. Joe engaged in the latter. We believed in Joe’s rectitude, his judgement, his morals — the whole ball of wax. The godlike Joe would never let an incident like this get swept away because he had important football issues — or would he?
It is more than plausible that the anonymous witness making the 1976 allegation is entirely correct. I’m not even slightly incredulous over this possibility. No, I’m outraged that Joe did nothing.
Sort of sheds new light on the famous Paterno deathbed quote, “In retrospect, I could have done more.” Boy, does that ever ring truer than true now!
There will be some PSU homey cynics who handwave that media speculation is 180 degrees from the reality of St. Joe, whose halo will never be tarnished, by God! Some Paternoists will never believe in the slightest that St. Joe might even be fallible, let alone culpable. Some others will rationalize that it was overblown in 1976, when St. Joe properly dismissed the whole thing. I think these Paternoists make it an issue of faith in spite of the preponderance of evidence. Nothing bad ever happens at Penn State. Yeah, right.
If the sworn testimony is true, Mr. Paterno turned his back on Sandusky’s shower shenanigans for at least 35 years. That would include a lot of years when Sandusky was employed by Paterno and directly reported to him. This strips away one feeble defense, which was that Sandusky didn’t work for Paterno at the time; he was merely given space in the Lasch Building.
These revelations come at an interesting time. The lettermen had just publicly asked the Penn State administration to restore the Paterno statue to its former glorious position.
Fat chance of that happening now!