The content of today’s MSP should remind us all that the 2012 season just can’t get here quickly enough.
There's been a lot of discussion over the last several months — and throughout the day Thursday and Friday across the Web, in particular — as to whether the NCAA should step in and severely punish Penn State for the school's cover-up in the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse case. Various columns and tweets from national media members have debated whether the NCAA should use its power as college athletics' governing body to investigate and punish the school if necessary. While we all hope that justice is served and the school's top officials involved receive their just punishment, I've maintained that because this is a criminal issue it almosts makes the NCAA's involvement trivial.
However, I have changed my tune a bit since the Freeh Report was released. And it changed not from the Sandusky case itself but from some of the details involving former head coach Joe Paterno's actions. It turns out that the NCAA can find cause for action because of Paterno's alleged role in giving football players preferential treatment.
In January 2011, Joe Paterno learned prosecutors were investigating his longtime assistant coach Jerry Sandusky for sexually assaulting young boys. Soon, Mr. Paterno had testified before a grand jury, and the rough outlines of what would become a giant scandal had been published in a local newspaper.
That same month, Mr. Paterno, the football coach at Penn State, began negotiating with his superiors to amend his contract, with the timing something of a surprise because the contract was not set to expire until the end of 2012, according to university documents and people with knowledge of the discussions. By August, Mr. Paterno and the university’s president, both of whom were by then embroiled in the Sandusky investigation, had reached an agreement.
As shocking as Louis Freeh’s report is — and it is about as horrific an indictment of institutional corruption as college football has ever seen — there is an opportunity for the good people at Penn State (of which there are plenty) to recover. It won’t be easy. But here is what Penn State can do to set things right…
Why not just tear the damned thing down?
Joe Paterno was a liar, there’s no doubt about that now. He was also a cover-up artist. If the Freeh report is correct in its summary of the Penn State child molestation scandal, the public Paterno of the last few years was a work of fiction. In his place is a hubristic, indictable hypocrite.
In the last interview before his death, Paterno insisted as strenuously as a dying man could that he had absolutely no knowledge of a 1998 police inquiry into child molestation accusations against his assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky. This has always been the critical point in assessing whether Paterno and other Penn State leaders enabled Sandusky’s crimes.
Shameless Self Quotable:
Hypothetically speaking, the NCAA would find Penn State officials lacked proper institutional control over the football program. That failure to control led to numerous incidents of student-athletes receiving improper benefits in the form of more favorable disciplinary actions. This in turn created a competitive advantage because players would should be suspended under school policy are allowed to play under those special rules.
The fact that the same lack of institutional control over the athletics program also caused school officials to enable Sandusky’s atrocities is a tragic development, but it is completely coincidental to the NCAA’s case. The judicial system will address the Sandusky scandal. But the Committee on Infractions could—and should—determine whether the school deserves sanctions for how it allowed Paterno to call the shots on almost all things Penn State University, not just football.
We hate this too, y’all. And please pray for the victims and other innocents who will pay for this gross negligence.