Does Penn State deserve the death penalty for its abominable cover-up?

The full report into Penn State’s response to allegations of sexual abuse by longtime defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, following an eight-month investigation overseen by former FBI director Louis Freeh, fills 267 excruciating pages. But to put the finishing touches on the obliteration of a half-century of goodwill, it only took 163 words:

The evidence shows that these four men also knew about a 1998 criminal investigation of Sandusky relating to suspected sexual misconduct with a young boy in a Penn State football locker room shower. Again, they showed no concern about that victim. The evidence shows that Mr. Paterno was made aware of the 1998 investigation of Sandusky, followed it closely, but failed to take any action, even though Sandusky had been a key member of his coaching staff for almost 30 years, and had an office just steps away from Mr. Paterno’s.

At the very least, Mr. Paterno could have alerted the entire football staff, in order to prevent Sandusky from bringing another child into the Lasch Building. Messrs. Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley also failed to alert the Board of Trustees about the 1998 investigation or take any further action against Mr. Sandusky. None of them even spoke to Sandusky about his conduct. In short, nothing was done and Sandusky was allowed to continue with impunity.

It is one of the saddest and sickest stories in the history of college athletics. It turns my stomach so violently that I don’t even like to write about it…so, I will let the selected links highlighted below do the talking for me.

First, CBS has a fantastic article that starts from the premise that ‘negligence is the least of their sins’.

First, the facts. In 1998, an allegation by the mother of an 11-year-old boy (later identified in court documents as “Victim 6”) who claimed Sandusky had sexually assaulted him in a locker room shower led to an investigation by Penn State campus police and local law enforcement. That investigation resulted in a 95-page police report – but no charges against Sandusky. During that investigation, according to a November 2011 indictment by the Pennsylvania Attorney General, “Sandusky admitted showering naked with Victim 6, admitted to hugging Victim 6 while in the shower and admitted that it was wrong.” According to the mother of Victim 6, who reported Sandusky to authorities when her son told her they had showered together, the coach told her during the investigation, “I understand. I was wrong. I wish I could get forgiveness. I know I won’t get it from I you. I wish I were dead,” while detectives secretly listened to the conversation in another room

The article goes on to analyze and contextualize many of the revelations and developments of the entire scandal. It is worth reading.

Also worth reading is the conclusion drawn by Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal Constitution,

If we make a big deal about a college football program playing dumb when a recruit takes free shoes or tattoos, or his family lives in a house rent free, how can we look the other way when evidence screams that one of the nation’s most powerful universities enabled a pedophile?

How can we sit through something so sick and vile as the testimony in the Jerry Sandusky trial and conclude that this was a one-source scandal worthy of only one individual or entity suffering consequences?

Penn State should not be allowed to play another football game. It put sport, image and fundraising above everything else. That is what every cheater in college athletics does, and because of that it deserves the NCAA’s “death penalty.”

Southern Methodist University, one of the nation’s top academic schools, saw its football program given the death penalty in 1987 because it put athletic success above what so obviously was considered morally acceptable. Isn’t it now clear that Penn State did the exact same thing?

In fact, what the powers Penn State did was worse. Their actions involved not materialistic goods but defenseless victims who will suffer for the rest of their lives.

According to a 267-page report by former FBI director Louis Freeh, the four most powerful men overseeing the university and the football program – president Graham Spanier (since fired), athletic director Tim Curley (on “administrative leave,” under indictment for perjury), vice president Gary Schultz (suddenly retired, also under indictment) and the late coach, Joe Paterno (fired in what would be two months before his death) — knew far more about Sandusky’s sick perversions and abuse than they let on. They knew it far longer than they let on.

And here’s the punctuation, your honor: They “concealed critical facts,” according to Freeh.

There’s a term for that: cover-up.

“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,” Freeh stated.

We don’t need to know anything else.

I agree. I don’t need to know anything else. The role of the institution that is Penn State University in this awful tragedy is clear. Accordingly, there MUST be accountability and retribution and for their actions. The leaders and the people that compose the leadership and fabric of this institution have had their chance. Why should they ever be trusted again?

Does Penn State deserve the 'Death Penalty'

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46 Responses to Does Penn State deserve the death penalty for its abominable cover-up?

  1. PackMan97 07/12/2012 at 3:21 PM #

    Yes. Absolutely. Beyond a shadow of a doubt. If the NCAA doesn’t do it, the school should. If the school doesn’t the fans should by refusing to buy tickets or merchandise.

  2. Hawkeye Whitney 07/12/2012 at 3:25 PM #

    Wow, I am still dumbfounded by how a man like Paterno, who did so much good, could be part of something so vile. How could he place his friendship with Sandusky and his desire to protect the univerity’s reputation above the protection of those boys?

  3. sholtzma 07/12/2012 at 3:38 PM #

    And this is why, on this site and on the other site, I recounted the story of watching the “admirable” Joe Paterno field a football team at Carter Stadium in the 1970s that systematically cheated in order to win a game. At that point, I understood that his squeaky clean reputation was nothing other than carefully crafted image. He was a cheater. He was interested in nothing more than winning and building a certain kind of reputation. He was immoral. And once you stopped believing the false image, repeatedly preserved and defended in and by the media, you knew that there was a very dark side underneath.

    I am not surprised at all by what has happened at PSU. A corrupt athletic administration, a corrupt university allowing and supporting the corrupt athletics, and a corrupt community of too many people in College Park who blindly accepted the corrupt athletics and corrupt institution. Sounds a lot like…..UNC-CHEAT.

  4. TOBtime 07/12/2012 at 3:47 PM #

    Everytime I hear “conspired”, “misled”, “administrative failure” and loss of emails talked about in the Freeh report I can’t help but think it’s the carolina way – but he is speaking of PSU.

    Just goes to show what a law school and journalism school can do for you. No lawyers from PSU to bail them out and represent unnamed tutors for less than what you or I would pay.

    I don’t see how the University can field a football team at the same time they totally commit to overhauling the monster that PSU football became. One will exclude the other. Government does not willingly reduce itself.

  5. PackMan97 07/12/2012 at 3:50 PM #

    Penn State has a law school.

  6. TOBtime 07/12/2012 at 3:53 PM #

    Thanks PackMan. I thought Pitt had the big one in PA and there wasn’t one at PSU.

    Maybe they just don’t know to cheat as well as they do at the hole.

    ^Packman97, now I know why. Everyone I knew from Penn St Wood Science graduated in the early 90’s. The law school merger didn’t occur unti 2000 with a law school that had been in existence since 1833. I was pretty sure they had all told me there was no law school back then.

  7. Wulfpack 07/12/2012 at 4:00 PM #

    This is so far beyond SMU, UNC, Ohio State, etc., etc. We’re talking about children — not trying to win football games or hand out grades. Completely on a different level. It’s astonishing that this was allowed to go on for so long. Nobody stepped up to the plate to do what was right in order to save innocent children from Sandusky’s wrath. Paterno and those three other clowns are directly responsible for ruining the lives of countless children. They will have to take that to their grave (Paterno already has).

    I believe that PSU should get the death penalty. If there ever was such a thing as lack of institutional control, this is your shining example. Do I think it will happen? No. But it absolutely should.

    Of course, the school can just go bankrupt for all I care. They are going to be sued out the wazoo. The school will take a substantial financial hit.

    And JoePa’s statue will be coming down, you can bet your behind on that one. Sad end to a great coaching career. But I don’t want to hear how “principled” JoePa was and how he ran a squeaky clean program ever again. What an absolute farse.

  8. DFMo 07/12/2012 at 4:05 PM #

    There may never be another death penalty. People are choosing the easiest answer in the poll – in the middle. You should have another choice such as “No – but PSU should have a 3-5 year bowl ban and a decade of probation”

  9. StateFans 07/12/2012 at 4:12 PM #


    GREAT to hear from you!!! Hope all is well. I don’t see enough of your stuff around here. Give me some more!!

  10. wolfpackdad 07/12/2012 at 4:18 PM #

    I think it is clear that they should shut it down for a time, but I don’t think that this is the NCAA’s to enforce. The adults in PA be it their Board of Governors or even the State legislature should make it happen. The only (potential) role the NCAA should play is to allow the existing players a free release to transfer since they (more than likely) didn’t have anything to do with this.

  11. Pack Mentality 07/12/2012 at 4:52 PM #

    I have always felt that Paterno and his holier than thou image was nothing but a fraud.

  12. BJD95 07/12/2012 at 5:20 PM #

    Most people who actively try to cultivate a “holier than thou” image are indeed frauds. The people who care about actually being good people are humble and quiet about it.

    I read something two days ago that especially sickened me – a blurb about how Penn State was having a banner fundraising year, in the aftermath of the scandal. They’ve learned nothing. They regret nothing. The NCAA must level a severe punishment. Death penalty for three years would do it.

    ESPN should be equally ashamed how quickly they turned into their normal fawning selves right after Paterno died. Disgusting.

  13. Pack Mentality 07/12/2012 at 5:48 PM #

    **** the players who are currently on the team.

    **** any PSU fan who just wants this behind them and to move on with the season.

    And **** Paterno .

  14. tractor57 07/12/2012 at 5:53 PM #

    I want those that turned the eye be they PSU admins, coaches, players or even law enforcement have the most severe penalty under law – maybe they need Bubba as a permanent roomie.

    The UNC crap is a mess, this is much worse.

  15. TheCOWDOG 07/12/2012 at 6:00 PM #

    Ya know…I never cared one iota about how Paterno was getting it done at Penn State. I never felt that I competed against them on an uneven field. The thought never crossed my mind.

    I never held Paterno up there as some sort of icon either. I thought he was simply a helluva football coach.

    I voted no. Its not an NCAA issue.

    It is a societal issue and humanitarian offense. It should be sanctioned as such.

    Yes, the statue will disappear, his coaching legacy ruined, and I will not watch Penn State football.

    What forms of punitive actions the rest of society takes is completely up to them.

  16. backnine 07/12/2012 at 6:36 PM #

    What about that statue of JoPa outside the stadium? Should that be taken down or left up? Got to be tough to look at that in the same light now. That’s a shame, but so is all of this. Its a tough call, but I sort of think that ultimately has to come down under such dour circumstances.

  17. TruthBKnown Returns 07/12/2012 at 6:57 PM #

    COWDOG, I disagree. This is a societal issue and a humanitarian offense. But it is also an NCAA issue. They protected this monster in order to protect their football program. They knew what was going on and delayed the scandal for yeas. They knew if the story broke, it would be VERY detrimental to the program, so they did what they did to protect a SPORTS PROGRAM. Therefore, this is also an NCAA issue.

    I believe they should get the death penalty for 3 or more years, but not forever. But it should be contingent on also replacing any and every human being that was in a position to do something and did nothing. If they keep a single one of those people on the staff, then it extends the death penalty even longer.

    That’s how I see it.

    If this were just one sick dude doing horrible things that nobody knew about but him and his victims, THEN it would be purely a societal issue involving a guy who just happened to be a coach. But he could just as easily been a teacher or a fireman or a shoe salesman. If no one else knew, it would be ALL on him and not a stain on his employer. But in this case, his employer knew and did nothing and that makes them as guilty as him. And for what — to protect Penn State football.

    Shut them down.

  18. tractor57 07/12/2012 at 7:13 PM #

    We all know the NCAA isn’t for #### when it comes to anything that might harm an “eilte” program. My question remains did some in law enforcement know? If so there is a special place in hell …

  19. TheCOWDOG 07/12/2012 at 8:09 PM #

    I must amend something. It is an NCAA issue, too. I completely forgot about the
    Failure to conduct moral behavior code.

  20. GAWolf 07/12/2012 at 8:20 PM #

    cow dog: I am interested in this code. It might change my opinion. Otherwise, this just isn’t NCAA territory. Sad, but true.

    The school should take serious action, but no the NCAA.

  21. nctodc 07/12/2012 at 8:24 PM #

    Less than a month ago, Coach K said that Penn State made a “real mistake” in firing Joe Paterno as they did. He said, “You had somebody who’d given six decades of service to the university and done such an incredible job. Somehow, you have to let – something has to play out and respect the fact that you’ve gone through all these experiences for six decades. And it doesn’t just go out the window, right at the end.”

    Krzyzewski’s warming up for the Olympics now but I wonder if anyone, particularly our local media, will ask him about his prior comments. Dick Vitale, who agreed with Coach K at the time, at least, had the decency to apologize after CNN released those leaked e-mails.

  22. Wulfpack 07/12/2012 at 8:38 PM #

    Section 2.4 of the NCAA Constitution

    For intercollegiate athletics to promote the character development of participants, to enhance the integrity of higher education and to promote civility in society, student-athletes, coaches, and all others associated with these athletics programs and events should adhere to such fundamental values as respect, fairness, civility, honesty and responsibility. These values should be manifest not only in athletics participation, but also in the broad spectrum of activities affecting the athletics program.

    Section 19.01.2

    Individuals employed by or associated with member institutions for the administration, the conduct or the coaching of intercollegiate athletics are, in the final analysis, teachers of young
    people. Their responsibility is an affirmative one, and they must do more than avoid improper conduct or questionable acts. Their own moral values must be so certain and positive that those younger and more pliable will be influenced by a fine example. Much more is expected of them than of the less critically placed citizen.

  23. Wufpacker 07/12/2012 at 8:52 PM #

    The above referenced moral code issue notwithstanding, I’ve also believed this was not NCAA territory. As far as the moral code is concerned, I always took that to be more of an “ideal guideline” than any sort of prohibition of anything in particular. It doesn’t seem like there’s any sort of enforceability there.

  24. MISTA WOLF 07/12/2012 at 9:15 PM #

    Honestly their is no answer as to what to do in this case. I mean it. Their is no decision that can Be made that’s going to fix what has been done.

  25. Wufpacker 07/12/2012 at 9:39 PM #

    “And for what — to protect Penn State football.”

    Not at all saying I disagree…of course some of the motivation to look the other way was from a desire to protect the reputations of the program and school. But I don’t think it’s that simple.

    Lots of cases like this one (only lower profile and without the athletic dept. motivations) where the offender is enabled in one form or another, often for years. Just because this one occurred in a place where part of that motivation could have been to protect athletic interests (and almost certainly was), I’m not sure that this alone elevates it to where it should be NCAA jurisdiction.

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