Another well produced animation showing the anatomy of a cover-up at Penn State. Thanks to Joe for the pointer.
Far past the time when we should have been addressing issues on the practice field and maintaining a laser focus on the season ahead, the Sandusky Showergate scandal continues to dominate our coverage here at the Turkey. Some would say, “Enough, already!” hoping to move on, but the Turkey is stubborn in that respect (and many others). This whole sordid mess is just too intriguing to drop. Each day there are new revelations that make us scratch our heads in wonderment over when the little data islands will coalesce to make a coherent counter-story that will frighten even the most paranoid conspiracy theorists among us.
Here, for instance, Rich Scarcella of the Reading Eagle blogs that the NCAA did not threaten Penn State with the “death penalty.” Just another sportswriter’s unfounded conjecture? No. Scarcella is backed by the written word of Oregon State president Ed Ray, president of the NCAA’s executive committee, who has told at least two publications that no such threat was ever made. Ray is the man who stood alongside Mark Emmert at the notorious July 23 press conference where Penn State’s sanctions and the consent decree were announced. Compelling reading, and it opens the door to asking yet more questions. Who’s lying? Big thanks to reader Joe for coming up with this find.
Another “coincidence” unearthed by a reader, BigAl, is that the infamous Vicky Triponey now works for Dr. R. Barbara Gitenstein, president of the College of New Jersey. “So what?” you say, “She’s safely out of the way there.” Not so fast, Buckaroo. Aside from her aforementioned position at TCNJ, Gitenstein is chairperson of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. That’s right, boys and girls, the accreditation body that just warned Penn State that the university is “in jeopardy”. Another case of Triponey seeking revenge for her unresolved love/hate/fear relationship with Joe Paterno during her brief tenure at Penn State? It seems more than coincidental that Triponey has relationships with both Mark Emmert, who hired her at University of Connecticut, and now, Gitenstein, who hired her at TCNJ. Is Vicky stalking Penn State?
Former Penn State president Graham Spanier, who remains a faculty member on leave, has stated that he and his lawyers might hold a press conference to tell us all what is wrong with the Freeh report. However, Spanier is still not clear of the potential charges that he participated in Showergate cover-up activities at Penn State, and that he had knowledge of crimes that should have been reported to authorities outside the university.
Meanwhile, as mentioned in the previous link, today was the day for the preliminary evidentiary hearing pertaining to the perjury and failure to report trial for Gary Schultz and Tim Curley, likely to be staged this fall or winter. Both Curly and Shemp have some high-priced, well proven legal talent arguing for them, while Moe has thus far escaped prosecution, as this supercilious Turkey mentioned above. But seriously though, folks, neither Curley nor Schultz showed up in person for the hearing and no rulings were made by the bench thus far.
Another take on the “culture of corruption” imposed on universities makes for some thought-provoking reading, as Lawrence Serewicz, an American living in the UK opines on the pickle not only Penn State but also many other large universities find themselves facing. His blog is Politics, Statesmanship, Philosophy, and he has written a book on the Vietnam war. This post is entitled “Penn State and the Crisis of the American University.”
That wraps up this issue of Sudden Impact. I have little doubt that some other story concerning the aftermath of Showergate will break five minutes after I pull the trigger to publish this, but that is life in the Penn State fast lane these days!
(The Nittany Turkey has ties to both Penn State and UCF, two universities recently sanctioned by the NCAA. Do I have a dark cloud following me around, or what? And no, I have no ties whatsoever to UNC!)
In a recent interview, alumni elected Penn State trustee Anthony Lubrano called the NCAA collectively a bully, and followed with, “the only way to deal with a bully is head on.” Lubrano is incontrovertibly correct, and he summed up what I have been thinking ever since President Rod Erickson and the Penn State Board of Trustees capitulated to the NCAA’s draconian sanctions.
No fight at all? Erickson and those trustees who support him, an overwhelming majority of the 32-member board, have continued to fall back on the excuse that the alternative to the NCAA sanctions would have been much worse, that the offer of the sanctions was non-negotiable, and that the best thing for the university was to take its lumps and move forward in order to get the Sandusky mess behind us and live for a better day ahead.
But it’s liable to get worse before it gets better. How much worse is anybody’s guess. For it is an uneasy peace when one chooses to appease a bully.
Ask Neville Chamberlain’s ghost. The British Prime Minister thought that it was necessary to appease Hitler to achieve “peace in our time.” At the Munich Conference of 1938, Chamberlain traded part of Czechoslovakia for a promise that the Germans and Brits would go away happy and European life would return to normal with the major threat having been appeased. But a bully will always be a bully. Hitler ignored the non-aggression pact, invading Poland and starting World War II.
If there’s a lesson to be gleaned from this historical snippet it’s that when one shows weakness to a bully, he better have eyes in the back of his head, for there will always be threats lurking in the shadows. Other bullies tend to take notice that there’s a weakling who is ripe for the taking and won’t offer much resistance. A show of bluster is all that is needed to get him to give up his lunch money. If there’s any resistance, give him a black eye and take the money. He won’t fight back.
And so it appears that Penn State has unwittingly, masochistically invited others besides the NCAA to come take its lunch money — lots of it.
Immediately following NCAA President Mark Emmert’s announcement of sanctions against Penn State, the Big Ten Conference jumped into the fray, augmenting the football program’s woes by imposing additional sanctions. Then, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, the academic accreditation body, declared Penn State “in jeopardy” of losing its accreditation. Lurking in the shadows are the Clery Act investigation by the US Department of Education, perhaps dozens of civil lawsuits from Sandusky’s victims and their families, perjury trials for Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, potential felony prosecution of former President Graham Spanier, and who knows what else? It is easy to be paranoid when the knives continue to rain down. And through it all, the media have been slamming Penn State — because it’s easy.
Accepting the NCAA sanctions without a peep also validated the conclusions of the Freeh report, which Emmert used as the basis for his “deal”. Instead of conducting a proper, NCAA-led investigation, Emmert and his henchmen chose to wave the Freeh report at Erickson to see if he’d cave in. Throw in a couple of threats of rocks thrown through the windows of Old Main, killing off the football program, and assorted other sundry imperilments, and here’s the deal: take it or leave it. An offer you can’t refuse. And by the way, no leaks. Keep your mouth shut. Omerta. Or else!
That opened the door to everyone else to use the strong language of the Freeh report to support their cases against Penn State, against which they could conclude they would receive little resistance.
Of course, it is the NCAA, not a single university, that is culpable for transforming academic institutions into football factories. The opportunity was ripe for the NCAA to make Penn State a target in order to take the bulls-eye off their own backs. The NCAA must discipline member schools regularly for this reason. We’ll see how unhypocritical they are with the way they handle UNC, but let me not digress.
That Erickson and his good ole boys and girls on the board chose to accept the Freeh report’s conclusions without question is another facilitating factor for the bullies out there. Of course the BoT paid big bucks for the former FBI director’s report, reportedly $6.5 million, so why question it? It was bought and paid for, a ready excuse not to pursue any issues related to its findings. By virtue of the ivory tower’s acceptance of not only the report, but also the bullies’ use of it to justify their punishments, it has essentially become a declaration of guilt: we did it, we did it all, and we’ll pay the price to atone for it, amen.
However, several interested bystanders who have chosen to ignore the machinations in Old Main have found significant flaws in the Freeh report. Its description of the supposedly corrupt football culture at Penn State is certainly subjective, yet it is the cornerstone for the NCAA’s and others’ case against the university. How can a climate in which academic issues had repeatedly caused suspensions of big-name players be described as deficient academically? How could a top football program with a top of the heap graduation rate be described as corrupt. Those Freeh report words appear to be the cart that drags the horse: as if Freeh conducted the investigation with the object being to prove the notion of a corrupt football culture, instead of deriving that from his findings.
Does the board have something to hide? Why are they not questioning these flaws in the Freeh report? Is there a bigger scandal they’re attempting to keep buried beneath the troubled turf of this one? Better that we find out about it sooner than later, before the bullies snatch more lunch money.
It will come out in the wash. It cannot be be swept under the rug. Thanks to inquisitive, cynical trustees like Lubrano, Joel Myers, and Ryan McCombie, along with former Penn State players, the Paterno family, and investigative reporters such as Sara Ganim, the truth will eventually be revealed. When it does, a lot of people in higher places than Old Main will get hurt. But history has shown that the lust for power leads to serious risk taking to cling to power.
Meanwhile, the board will keep trying to back itself into a corner, ostensibly maintaining a “laser focus” on the future. The bullies will keep on bullying, and the sheep will continue to graze while maintaining their laser focus. Don’t be surprised if one day that damn laser starts focusing on them.