The biggest failing of Penn State University
By Robert Edwin Field, Publisher
In large part, here is the media’s and public’s perception of Penn State’s dealing with the Jerry Sandusky atrocities: Penn State and its football program = incubation of pedophilia. Ergo, no punishment can be harsh enough.
Also, the circumstances concerning investigations of Jerry Sandusky’s pedophilia cover up over fourteen years of convolutions, requires too much of an investment in time and energy for even noted columnists to comprehend what took place and even have their facts correct.
So, before reflecting on Penn State’s “biggest failing”, let’s first separate facts from fiction.
To do so, let us contrast what Maureen Dowd wrote on July 21, 2012 in the prestigious New York Times with what actually occurred:
“Louis Freeh, the former F.B.I. director who conducted the school’s investigation, found that despite the denials of Paterno and his family, the coach knew about a 1998 allegation that Sandusky had abused a child in the Penn State showers…
“Since Paterno was the most powerful man on campus, he was being disingenuous when he said he did his duty by reporting Sandusky to top officials after Mike McQueary told him in 2001 that he had seen the slab of an assistant coach molesting a slight boy in the shower…
The following is from the Time Line that Bill Keisling generated in late January:
“May 1998 : Report of Jerry Sandusky in PSU shower room lifting Victim 6 up to shower head. After Sandusky brought her son home with wet hair, Victim 6’s mother reports the incident to Penn State University police. The complaint was referred to Ray Gricar, the District Attorney of Centre County. The case was first assigned to Centre County Assistant DA Karen Arnold. Arnold had the case for ‘two or three days,’ she says, and then DA Gricar took the case from her, saying he (Gricar) was going to personally handle it. No charges were filed.
We see from above that Penn State University Police referred the accusation about Sandusky to the Centre County District Attorney who declined to prosecute.
“May 1999: Coach Joe Paterno tells Sandusky that Sandusky will not be named Paterno’s replacement as head PSU football coach, and Sandusky retires with emeritus status. Sandusky still has access to Penn State facilities. The grand jury presentment states: ‘Victim 4 remembers Sandusky being emotionally upset after having a meeting with Joe Paterno in which Paterno told Sandusky he would not be the next head coach at Penn State and which preceded Sandusky’s retirement. Sandusky told Victim 4 not to tell anyone about the (Paterno) meeting. That meeting occurred in May, 1999.’”
In part mindful of the incident, Joe Paterno ends Sandusky’s coaching career at Penn State. To divert attention from the real reason, speculation is encouraged that Sandusky voluntarily left because he learned he would not be Paterno’s successor as head coach. It was a big national sports story at the time.
“March 1, 2002: Graduate assistant Mike McQueary says he observes Sandusky apparently having anal sex with a young boy in the Lasch Building shower room. That night McQueary talks with his father and discusses what to do. The next day, March 2, McCreary meets with Coach Joe Paterno and tells Paterno explicitly what he had observed. Paterno tells McQueary, ‘Well, I’m sorry you had to see that. It’s terrible.’ And he said, ‘I need to think and tell some people about what you saw and I’ll let you know what — what we’ll do next.’ (December 16, 2011 preliminary hearing transcript page 26.) Paterno reports the incident to his boss, PSU Director of Athletics, Tim Curley, the following Monday. The grand jury presentment reads (page 8): ‘Schultz testified that he was called to a meeting with Joe Paterno and Tim Curley, in which Paterno reported ‘disturbing’ and ‘inappropriate’ conduct in the shower by Sandusky upon a young boy, as reported to him by a student or graduate student.’”
“The presentment further reads (page 7): ‘Approximately one and a half weeks later, the graduate assistant was called to a meeting with Penn State Athletic Director Curley and Senior Vice President for Finance and Business Gary Schultz. The graduate assistant reported to Curley and Schultz that he had witnessed what he believed to be Sandusky having anal sex with a boy in the Lasch Building showers. Curley and Schultz assured the graduate assistant that they would look into it and determine what further action they would take. Paterno was not present for this meeting.’”
According to a doctor friend who was present, McQueary did not explicitly describe to Paterno that Sandusky was having anal sex with the boy but did describe inappropriate familiarity.
As a retired professor, Sandusky had access to the Penn State Field House. Is it fair to expect Paterno or other Penn State official to have anticipated that Sandusky would sodomize a youngster there? To have stripped Sandusky of his Field House privileges could hardly have been justified, especially in the light that the district attorney’s office had not brought charges.
“Late March 2002: Curley contacts McQueary to say that Sandusky no longer has keys to the PSU locker room, and that the incident has been reported to Second Mile charity. Curley and Schultz meet with PSU President Graham Spanier, according to the grand jury presentment, ‘to report an incident with Jerry Sandusky that made a member of Curley’s staff ‘uncomfortable.’”
“The presentment reads (page 7): ‘The graduate assistant heard back from Curley a couple of weeks later. He was told that Sandusky’s keys to the locker room were taken away and that the incident had been reported to The Second Mile. The graduate assistant was never questioned by University Police. … Curley testified that he informed Dr. Jack Raykovitz, Executive Director of the Second Mile of the conduct reported to him and met with Sandusky to advise Sandusky that he was prohibited from bringing youth onto the Penn State campus from that point forward.’”
Penn State administrators and Penn State police should have reported the matter to the county district attorney and local police department.
Sandusky’s keys were taken from him and he was banned from using the Field House. Moreover, the incident was reported to the Executive Director of the Second Mile Foundation. However, the only action that the Board of Trustees of Second foundation was to take was to raise $641,481 from current and past trustees for the gubernatorial campaign of then Attorney General Tom Corbett, who was in charge of investigating Sandusky but was reportedly dragging his feet.
Later, to perhaps avert attention for his willful negligence (if not worse), it was Corbett who, as a Penn State trustee ex officio, led the charge to fire Paterno. (He allegedly told the trustees right before a contentious vote: “Remember the boy in the shower.”)
Dowd continues: “But Freeh learned the sulfurous truth: that it was Paterno who persuaded Graham Spanier, who was the university president, Gary Schultz, a vice president, and Tim Curley, the athletic director, not to report Sandusky to state authorities…”
Instead of going to the original testimony, Dowd appears to have relied on an erroneous report in the Sporting News which NewsLanc was quick to rebut but which has been swallowed whole by much of the media and the public.
Here is an exerpt from NewsLanc’s article “Sunday News editorial’s rush to judgment on Joe Paterno” of July 9th:
“ ‘After giving it more thought and talking it over with Joe yesterday, I am uncomfortable with what we agreed were the next steps.’ Tim Curley allegedly wrote to Spanier. ‘I am having trouble with going to everyone, but the person involved.’ “
Joe Paterno did not write the e-mail or receive a copy. Nor does Curley say that he and Paterno had shared the same view. If he were speaking for Paterno, why didn’t Curley say ‘We are uncomfortable’ instead of “I am uncomfortable?” Because Curley met with Paterno doesn’t mean that he was conveying Paterno’s views.
It was also Corbett who recommended the hiring of former FBI Director Louis Freeh, a long time Republican ‘cat’s paw’, to investigate Penn State. Furthermore, Freeh was restricted to only investigating what occurred at the university, and not allowed to put what took place into a broader context that would have included Corbett inactions as Attorney General.
It is now Governor Corbett that held the purse strings for Penn State University’s funding from the state. Rodney Erickson, Penn State President, negotiated an arrangement with the National Colligate Athletic Associates (NCAA) whereby the NCAA agreed not to conduct an investigation as required by its By-Laws in exchange for Penn State volunteering to accept every possible punishment stipulated in the By-Laws and Regulation.
Once again Tom Corbett avoided any investigation of his own gross negligence and clearly unethical, if not corrupt, acceptance of $641,481 from Second Mile trustees while an investigation of Sandusky was supposedly underway. (See chapter headed “Tom didn’t want to do it” .)
An NCAA investigation, besides disclosing Corbett’s involvement, may have concluded that Penn State’s failure, whatever they may have been, did not affect competition, and thus fell outside its jurisdiction. Univesities represented at the appeals level might well have objected to enlarging the NCAA’s powers to discipline administrative errors rather than to simply assure fair competition.
NewsLanc has posed the question of whether the public and the NCAA would have re-acted the same had a physics professor rather than a football coach had been involved in these sordid matters. Would the NCAA have levied a $60 million fine, expunged a decade of past victories, limited scholarships, and prohibited post seasons bowl games had the administration re-acted the same to the Physics professor’s act of pedophilia? Conceivably, but we suspect unlikely.
According to Wikipedia, “Annual enrollment at the University Park campus totals more than 44,000 graduate and undergraduate students, making it one of the largest universities in the United States. It has the world’s largest dues-paying alumni association. The university’s total enrollment in 2009–10 was approximately 94,300 across its 24 campuses and online through its World Campus.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pennsylvania_State_University
We ask why so huge and ostensibly devoted an alumni sits quietly by the sidelines; not pressing for facts; not defending the university from unjust accusations, manipulations and penalties; and, lastly, not demanding an investigation of Gov. Corbett’s role?
There was an attempt by a new alumni group, PS4EVER to come to Penn State’s defense. However, after a few posting, it has become all but mute.
Had the identical circumstances occurred at Harvard or Cal Berkely, would the alumni stand relatively silent on the sidelines? We think not!
It may be the “biggest fault” at Penn State has been in its failure to induce a healthy skepticism of authority, a quest for facts, a good dose of critical thinking and the will to speak up in the face of injustice. Where they should be questioning the actions of Governor Tom Corbett and challenging the NCAA rulings, they sit docilely by and allow their school and their heritage to be desecrated.