All of the parties involved in the case have either appeared in public or had their attorneys or spokespersons provide comments to the media. In perhaps the darkest moments of his storied college football coaching career, even the iconic Joe Paterno has appeared in public and briefly answered questions.
But where the hell has Penn State University Graham Spanier been?
On Sunday, he released the following statement:
The allegations about a former coach are troubling, and it is appropriate that they be investigated thoroughly. Protecting children requires the utmost vigilance.
With regard to the other presentments, I wish to say that Tim Curley and Gary Schultz have my unconditional support. I have known and worked daily with Tim and Gary for more than 16 years. I have complete confidence in how they have handled the allegations about a former University employee.
Tim Curley and Gary Schultz operate at the highest levels of honesty, integrity and compassion. I am confident the record will show that these charges are groundless and that they conducted themselves professionally and appropriately.
The two men to whom Spanier pledged his unconditional support have since stepped aside. The indictment charges them with perjury in their testimony to the grand jury and failure to report sexual abuse of minors. His denouncement of the charges against them thus rings hollow.
The only opportunity the media had to interact with Penn State administrative and athletics staff and coaches was a regularly scheduled press conference for Tuesday afternoon. Less than an hour before mics went hot, Spanier abruptly canceled it.
In the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s press conference on Monday, AG Linda Kelly said Paterno was not a target of the investigation, but stopped short of clearing Spanier.
“All I can say is, again, I’m limited to what’s contained in the presentment, and that this is an ongoing investigation,” Kelly said.
Let’s be clear. Spanier knew what was going on in 1998 when the allegations first came to light and were investigated by university police. Spanier learned that it hadn’t stopped in 2002 when then graduate assistant Mike McQueary reported that he’d witnessed Sandusky sexually assaulting a young boy in a shower. Spanier knew that law enforcement was investigating Sandusky in 2009, and was reminded of the ongoing nature of the investigation again in March of this year. He knew. They all knew. They did nothing.
That means Spanier almost assuredly is a target of the investigation, but that is no reason to hide under a desk. Penn State University is in the middle of a crisis never before seen and the school’s president is nowhere to be seen. The school’s Board of Trustees is set to meet this week, and its statement pledges “swift and decisive action” by a committee it will appoint.
A committee? Swift and decisive action? Committees take weeks to decide what refreshments will be served during the morning break. Expecting anything meaningful—much less swift—is akin to expecting NCAA President Mark Emmert’s Presidential Retreat to develop meaningful reform.
Oh and by the way, Graham Spanier attended that event. In fact, Spanier never met an NCAA committee he didn’t like. He was even mentioned in some circles as the man who could succeed Myles Brand as President of the NCAA. His visibility when things are cheeky makes his inaccessibility during this crisis all the more appalling. Leadership isn’t manifested when things go well. Crises are where leaders are separated from cowards. I’ll let you make the call on Spanier’s performance since Sunday.
Going forward, a lot of ink and bandwidth will be consumed over JoePa’s future and whether his body of work should outweigh poor decision-making in failing to report Sandusky to the police. Spanier’s failures are much more tangible. His do-nothings on reporting the allegations to authorities are now intensified by his utter failure to even show his face in the midst of this crisis. He sure didn’t mind showing up in Indianapolis. Where the hell is he now?
UPDATE: Lehigh Valley Live is reporting that Spanier is likely to be forced out today. To those asking: No, I’m not happy now. And no one should be in a situation like this.