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Report finds Penn State president, Paterno concealed facts about Sandusky sex abuse
July 12, 2012 8:01 AM   Subscribe

Report finds Penn State president, Paterno concealed facts about Sandusky sex abuse: "Penn State football coach Joe Paterno and other university leaders 'repeatedly concealed critical facts' relating to assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky’s child sex abuse from authorities, according to Louis Freeh, the former FBI director who conducted an investigation [PDF] for the university in the Sandusky scandal."
Freeh also found that "although concern to treat the child abuser humanely was expressly stated, no such sentiments were ever expressed" by university officials, including Paterno and the university president, for Sandusky’s victims. The report says that five boys were assaulted by Sandusky on university property after officials knew about a 1998 criminal investigation.
posted by ericb (405 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
NBC News' Michael Isikoff analyzes 'scathing' Freeh report [video | 04:13].
posted by ericb at 8:03 AM on July 12, 2012




The most startling thing for me is that someone actually committed this to email:

According to the 267-page report, Curley e-mailed Spanier and Schultz on Feb. 27, 2001 telling them he changed his mind about an agreed upon plan to alert the authorities, saying: "after giving it more thought and talking it over with Joe yesterday," he now wanted to tell Sandusky "we feel there is a problem" and would offer him "professional help."

If Sandusky was cooperative, Curley said, according to the report, "we would work with him" to inform Sandusky's charity for troubled youth, the Second Mile. If Sandusky did not cooperate, Curley said, "we don't have a choice and will inform" the state Department of Public Welfare and the Second Mile.

Spanier replied, according to the report: "This approach is acceptable to me" and acknowledged the university's potential liability if the abuse did not stop: "The only downside for us is if the message isn't 'heard' and acted upon and we then become vulnerable for not having reported it. But that can be assessed down the road. The approach you outline is humane and a reasonable way to proceed."

posted by gerryblog at 8:05 AM on July 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


From the report:
Spanier never declared Sandusky a “persona non grata” on Penn State campuses as he did toward a sports agent who, before the 1997 Citrus Bowl, bought $400 worth of clothing for a Penn State football player. Spanier was very agressive in that case and banned the agent from campus. Spanier said the agent “fooled around with the integrity of the university, and I won’t stand for that.”
You can hardly find a more blatant example of what actually matters to an institution -- the 1997 incident threatened the football program, while Sandusky's crimes only threatened a bunch of kids.
posted by Etrigan at 8:06 AM on July 12, 2012 [132 favorites]


Michael Ventre: Penn State Should Get The Death Penalty.
posted by ericb at 8:06 AM on July 12, 2012 [8 favorites]


"In fiscal year 2011-2012, the school [Penn State] earned $208.7 million in donations -- the second-highest annual amount in school history"
posted by mrgrimm at 8:07 AM on July 12, 2012


Are there still a lot of people saying that football builds character? Did I misunderstand all along just what they meant?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:08 AM on July 12, 2012 [16 favorites]


"The only downside for us is if the message isn't 'heard' and acted upon and we then become vulnerable for not having reported it."

"Bah, we'll all be dead by then. MWAH HA HA HA HA HA!"
posted by mrgrimm at 8:08 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Are there still a lot of people saying that football builds character? Did I misunderstand all along just what they meant?

Sports don't build character, they expose it. Penn State is one example.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:10 AM on July 12, 2012 [18 favorites]


"I went to football school and at the end of the 4 years, they handed me a degree in Political Science!"
posted by inturnaround at 8:10 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry that you died, Joe. Seeing this in person would have been well deserved.
posted by absalom at 8:10 AM on July 12, 2012 [26 favorites]


If Sandusky was cooperative, Curley said, according to the report, "we would work with him" to inform Sandusky's charity for troubled youth, the Second Mile. If Sandusky did not cooperate, Curley said, "we don't have a choice and will inform" the state Department of Public Welfare and the Second Mile.

Were Curley et al. not mandated reporters? Even if they weren't, how could they think this was remotely acceptable?
posted by rtha at 8:11 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oof. I feel really badly for people who are actually attracted to children until they act on it. It must be horrible knowing that you can never be fulfilled without hurting someone. My sympathy ends when you act on those desires OR put yourself in a position where you are likely to do so.

I have sympathy for people who have to turn in people they care about to save others from being hurt. That must be really hard, loving someone and respecting them and wanting to protect them but knowing that to do what's right you have to ruin their lives. I have NO sympathy for people who shield adults at the risk of allowing children to be hurt. Jesus fucking Christ, take some God damn responsibility. This is a terrible and frightening situation in which a large group of relatively powerful adults completely failed a group of children who really needed support. Fucking hell.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:11 AM on July 12, 2012 [48 favorites]


The pot to settle lawsuits just got a whole lot richer this morning.
posted by ericb at 8:11 AM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


Michael Ventre: Penn State Should Get The Death Penalty.

I don't care enough about college football to know whether or not the death penalty is appropriate here, but severe NCAA sanctions (5 year suspension?) seem inevitable.

It wasn't one coach, or even one coach and one head coach protecting him. It was systemic.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:13 AM on July 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


It's funny and ironic that folks in Pennsylvania are only now beginning to take this scandal seriously, now that it's threatening the integrity of their football program.

Call me a cynic, but it looks like nothing has fundamentally changed here...
posted by schmod at 8:15 AM on July 12, 2012 [10 favorites]


I have sympathy for people who have to turn in people they care about to save others from being hurt.

Example: David Kaczynski turning in his Unabomber brother, Ted.
posted by ericb at 8:16 AM on July 12, 2012 [18 favorites]


Penn State is everything that's wrong with college sports in the US and more.
posted by tommasz at 8:16 AM on July 12, 2012 [9 favorites]


The SMU football program got the death penalty in 1987 for a slush fund it kept to pay players. Seems like a decade of child molestation on campus by a coach, with a full-blown coverup, would warrant the same.
posted by mattbucher at 8:17 AM on July 12, 2012 [27 favorites]


"A culture of reverence for the football program that is ingrained at all levels of the campus community."

I'm going to go a step further and say a culture of reverence for football ingrained at all levels OF THIS COUNTRY is what allowed a good deal of this to continue for so long.
posted by spicynuts at 8:17 AM on July 12, 2012 [18 favorites]


The only downside for us is if the message isn't 'heard' and acted upon and we then become vulnerable for not having reported it. But that can be assessed down the road. The approach you outline is humane and a reasonable way to proceed.

Stay classy, Spanier. (In jail!)
posted by OmieWise at 8:17 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Chronicle of Higher Ed is working on an annotated version of key passages.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 8:18 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's all incredibly damning for Paterno, of course. It seems like school officials were finally ready to notify authorities about Sandusky when Paterno convinced them not to.

It will be interesting to see how his legacy is handled at Penn State.

I can't really think of a comparable situation, i.e. a super popular coach/athlete who dies and then is discovered to have committed an atrocity ...
posted by mrgrimm at 8:19 AM on July 12, 2012


I was surprised Penn State football didn't voluntarily apply a death penalty the day Paterno was removed as head coach. It seemed like such an obvious move by the replacement coaching staff, to walk into the locker room and tell their kids that Penn State had a 0-0 record.
posted by samofidelis at 8:20 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."
John Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton

Also pertinent from the Baron:

"Great men are almost always bad men."
“There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it."
posted by incandissonance at 8:20 AM on July 12, 2012 [9 favorites]


I'm going to go a step further and say a culture of reverence for football AND MONEY ingrained at all levels OF THIS COUNTRY is what allowed a good deal of this to continue for so long.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:20 AM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Well, sorry, not a death penalty. Pre-coffee era.
posted by samofidelis at 8:20 AM on July 12, 2012




This worries me. These guys were football coaches at a state school in the Northeast, in charge of a program that brought in millions of dollars.

Replace "football coaches" with "executives", "state school" with "fortune 500 company", and "millions" with "billions"... And consider what shenanigans we may never learn about.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 8:25 AM on July 12, 2012 [20 favorites]


In the NYTimes article, a letter written by Paterno is quoted as saying that the scandal wasn't a "football scandal." Bullshit. Paterno didn't want Sandusky turned in to the police because it would affect the football program. Paterno's legacy as a stand-up guy, dedicated to education and football is gone. I wish I could burn my degree from the university and I know I will never wear any Penn State apparel again (hello, new dust rags).

Penn State should shutter its football program and focus on academics -- Penn State is known as a research university (overshadowed, of course, by the football), focus on the engineering and meteorology programs.

Happy Valley will have a hell of a time without the income from football (many businesses in State College rely on the influx of people during football season to carry them through the rest of the year).
posted by backwords at 8:25 AM on July 12, 2012 [13 favorites]


" humane and a reasonable" - that phrase sticks in my craw so bad. How the hell could anyone be so obsessed with what is "humane" to the perpetrator while ignoring the humane way to treat the victims? It hurts my head to think about.
posted by pointystick at 8:27 AM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


[Your "catholics R rapists" comments not welcome here.]
posted by jessamyn at 8:31 AM on July 12, 2012 [18 favorites]


I hope that the men named in this report go to prison. But I can't get behind the idea of an NCAA death penalty on the program. Paterno is gone, Curley (the Athletic Director) is on suspension after being indicted and will almost certainly never return, Spanier (the President) was forced to resign, and Schultz (the VP of Finance and Business) resigned back into retirement. The entire coaching staff (except two men who have never been accused of knowing anything about this) has been replaced, and none of the players was remotely involved.

The death penalty is intended to put a full stop on a program that has demonstrated it is not only out of control, but doesn't care, and force it to restart essentially from scratch to fix those problems. When Southern Methodist University got the death penalty in the 1980s, it was the result of years of NCAA sanctions (about directly football-competition-related issues) and willful covering up of new offenses. It was intended to punish the actual people who had committed those acts. Killing Penn State's program now wouldn't punish anyone who had anything to do with this.
posted by Etrigan at 8:34 AM on July 12, 2012 [13 favorites]


I have several friends that are PSU grads. So far, not one has shown even the slightest hint of a change in attitude about the school or Paterno because of this. I wonder if this will make a difference?

I'm guessing probably not.
posted by COD at 8:35 AM on July 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


The other thing with Sandusky is that through the university and his charity the Second Mile he had access to boys for YEARS. There is no way this just started in 1998. He was a member of the coaching staff at Penn State since 1960s, Penn State has a well-regarded summer football program for boys, not sure when it started though. He started the Second Mile in the 1970s. And NO ONE stopped him.
posted by backwords at 8:38 AM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


Page 63: "There is no information indicating that Spanier, Schultz, Paterno or Curley made any effort to identify the child victim or determine if he was harmed."
posted by mattbucher at 8:40 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


When Southern Methodist University got the death penalty in the 1980s, it was the result of years of NCAA sanctions (about directly football-competition-related issues) and willful covering up of new offenses.

Here it would be the result of a culture that has reached the point where it considers the football program more important than protecting kids from a rapist. At that point a (not the only, but certainly a) reasonable option is to remove the program.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:40 AM on July 12, 2012 [21 favorites]


The Onion: Nation's 10-Year-Old Boys: 'If You See Someone Raping Us, Please Call The Police' - 'Doesn't Matter Who, Doesn't Matter Where,' Children Say

I like the Onion best when its writers get angry (see also: the 9/11 issue.)
posted by Rangeboy at 8:42 AM on July 12, 2012 [33 favorites]


Here it would be the result of a culture that has reached the point where it considers the football program more important than protecting kids from a rapist. At that point a (not the only, but certainly a) reasonable option is to remove the program

Blah, blah, blah, history, tradition, blah, blah, blah.

Shoots self in head. Hates humanity.
posted by Fizz at 8:43 AM on July 12, 2012


10 year death penalty should be enough to cleanse the palate.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:44 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Spanier never declared Sandusky a “persona non grata” on Penn State campuses

That doesn't bother me. It would only have amounted to saying "bugger your boys somewhere else."
posted by ocschwar at 8:45 AM on July 12, 2012


Spanier never declared Sandusky a “persona non grata” on Penn State campuses

That doesn't bother me. It would only have amounted to saying "bugger your boys somewhere else."


Hardly.

If he were to try to get a job elsewhere, I think they'd want to know why a fixture like himself was suddenly booted.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 8:47 AM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Plus he actively used the Penn State connection to groom victims.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:49 AM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yes, college football is way too big in its influence and power and should be put in its place. But the vast majority of people involved with Penn State's football program had nothing to do with raping any children. I do not think the death penalty is appropriate here, because collective punishment is not warranted. Those who were involved in the cover-up should and are facing criminal charges, and the school should and is being sued to the bejesus and back.
posted by vibrotronica at 8:49 AM on July 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


What's most amazing to me is that it seems to have never even occurred to them to try to find out who the victims were and make sure those children were okay. Never crossed their minds. My brain can more readily understand a calculated decision to protect the university but it almost seemed like rote to them. They didn't even consider any other option. Completely bizarre.
posted by something something at 8:52 AM on July 12, 2012


The SMU football program got the death penalty in 1987 for a slush fund it kept to pay players.

The ironic thing is that actually is the proper thing to do...
posted by PenDevil at 8:53 AM on July 12, 2012 [19 favorites]


Yes, college football is way too big in its influence and power and should be put in its place.

Nothing short of eliminating the football team and starting from scratch will do the job.

That's how wayward fraternity chapters are dealt with.

That's how military outfits are dealt with.

Take off and nuke the site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.
posted by ocschwar at 8:53 AM on July 12, 2012 [9 favorites]


Plus he actively used the Penn State connection to groom victims.


Ah. I stand corrected.
posted by ocschwar at 8:54 AM on July 12, 2012


Yes, college football is way too big in its influence and power and should be put in its place. But the vast majority of people involved with Penn State's football program had nothing to do with raping any children. I do not think the death penalty is appropriate here, because collective punishment is not warranted. Those who were involved in the cover-up should and are facing criminal charges, and the school should and is being sued to the bejesus and back.

These men - who made millions of dollars per year - and were considered the top men in their respective fields, failed to protect children from a rapist in the hopes of not tarnishing their "legacy".

They failed to fully appreciate the risks and costs associated with their (in)actions and so the program should die. It should serve and stand as a message that some things are far more important than some dipshit college football coach's "legacy".

And among them is maybe not letting little boys get raped.

Burn the fucking thing to the ground.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:54 AM on July 12, 2012 [38 favorites]


But I can't get behind the idea of an NCAA death penalty on the program.

Perhaps the money that is currently financing the team should be given to the victims.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:55 AM on July 12, 2012 [42 favorites]


I have several friends that are PSU grads. So far, not one has shown even the slightest hint of a change in attitude about the school or Paterno because of this. I wonder if this will make a difference?

Well I'm a Penn State dropout not grad but 75% of my undergrad credits are from there so I count myself as an alumnus and I've certainly become totally disgusted with the school, the football program and the "Happy Valley" community. I still have a lot of friends who are steadfast in their loyalty to the school and the team and I just don't understand it. I don't know how many friends I have who changed their Facebook icon to the goddamn crying Nittany Lion. The lion that apparently isn't crying out of shame or anger but because of all the mean things people are saying about old State.
posted by octothorpe at 8:56 AM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


Penn State football fans are fans in the true sense of the word; they are fanatical. What a death penalty would do for everyone in and around that university would be to make it utterly crystal clear that there are basic human rights that transcend their blessed sport. To me and most of the people on this thread, that's a "duh", but believe me when I say that what many Penn State fans are wondering about most is how this will affect their team's prospects in the coming years.

I don't know if this is "justice" or warranted, but I would not feel a bit sorry for the lack of football for many years at PSU. Nuke it.
posted by mcstayinskool at 8:56 AM on July 12, 2012 [46 favorites]


I've been following reaction to this at Black Shoe Diaries, and it's astounding to me the lengths the commentators will go through to preserve their idolization of Penn State and JoePa. In the runup to the Sandusky verdict, many of them truly thought that the state hadn't proved its case. The amount of hair-splitting and willful blindness that allows them to defend PSU makes it all too clear how abuse is allowed to fester (and sometimes prosper) in affinity groups. Just depressing all around.
posted by snickerdoodle at 8:58 AM on July 12, 2012


Having seen similar situations, Penn State could have easily covered their collective asses by quietly declaring Sandusky persona non grata and reporting the incident to the authorities in '98. We know that abusers worm their way into positions of trust an authority. Getting fooled once is understandable, and discovering you have an abuser on the payroll isn't that big of a deal.

Covering up the problem of a recidivist VIP in your program turns a small scandal into a big fucking scandal.

From the report: "There is no information indicating that Spanier, Schultz, Paterno or Curley made any effort to identify the child victim or determine if he was harmed."

As far as I'm aware, that victim is still unidentified, which led to a few problems for the prosecution during the Sandusky trial.

ocschwar: That doesn't bother me. It would only have amounted to saying "bugger your boys somewhere else."

Employers can't ensure that a criminal never offends. But they can ensure that the criminal never offends using their resources and reputation. Sandusky used his connections to PSU to groom victims and evade prosecution for over a decade after the first police report. We still have not seen the results of the federal investigation into Sandusky's use of bowl tickets for kids.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 8:58 AM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


Perhaps the money that is currently financing the team should be given to the victims.

This has been said many times on the twitter. Money doesn't make it right, but it should be given over to programs that help victims who are in similar circumstances. They need our support.
posted by Fizz at 8:59 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


"I wonder if this will make a difference?"

Probably not much. The key participants are gone. New rules will go on the books. The issue will be ignored or paid lip service for a few years until a new class occupies the campus, and then, Paterno The Legend will rise from the ashes. In time, everybody forgets.
posted by Ardiril at 9:01 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


That doesn't bother me. It would only have amounted to saying "bugger your boys somewhere else."

Even if that's all it was - and as has been said, it's not - then kicking someone to the curb instead of quietly tolerating their child rape is still a step closer to right action.
posted by kafziel at 9:01 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


This isn't a football problem or a sports culture problem. This is a money problem. These are men who are protecting the $90M/year athletic budget and their huge personal salaries and influence, not the integrity of the sport or the team.
My solution: make NCAA student athletics programs 100% student run and operated. Student coaches, student assistants, student administrators. No full-time salaried employees at all... in other words no Joe Paternos to worship and revere. The budgets would automatically fall and them with them the cover-ups, scandals, and greed. Just pure amateur athletics.
posted by rocket88 at 9:01 AM on July 12, 2012 [34 favorites]



i graduated from psu york after transferring from york college.

i often regret that i switched to psu which i did because there were some friends there who really liked a couple of the professors. and i thought it might have better name recognition and was generally thought to be a good school.

this only adds to my regret of switching to penn state. (i think i was actually getting a better education overall at york college.)

i've always felt there was no way that paterno didn't know. you just can't not notice something like that.

i feel a bit shallow for thinking that every time i apply for a job in the relatively near future most people who see my degree granting institution will be reminded of child sex abuse. i most definitely feel an incredible amount of sympathy for those victims and a great deal of anger and shock that university officials did nothing, especially now that we can see they did know all along.

it's just sick. the whole thing is just sick. i wish paterno was still alive so he had to answer questions about this.
posted by sio42 at 9:03 AM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


The sickest part for me was reading the retirement negotiations.

"Opportunity to run a football camp for 6-7-8th grade students, access to a fitness facility for his lifetime, free family tickets, $20k annuity."

Yea he wanted Penn State approval/support, get paid, and have privileges for life to molest these kids. Beyond disgusting. And Penn State was an idiot, fool, and a criminal to even consider these negotiations. What were they afraid of? Him suing for not getting his way?

And I honestly wonder if the lack of concern was because they were boys? It just feels that this was ignored and more shameful to the school's eyes because of the victims' gender.

Don't care which gender, this is just beyond comprehension to me and makes me sick. Glad Joe Pa is dead.
posted by stormpooper at 9:07 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


These are still on sale in downtown State College. Passed by and took the picture today. Only $85.

I live in State College and am connected to the university through my wife, who is a grad student. It really is a nice area filled with wonderful people. But you could probably say that about lots of places. As far as the scandal is concerned, I'm very happy that the Freeh Report has finally been released and that it clarifies things. The men in charge decided to cover up the 2001 incident because they knew they'd lose their jobs if it was revealed a boy was sexually abused in their locker room after Sandusky had already been investigated in 1998. That seems pretty plain and straight-forward. Any illusions to the contrary are now just that - illusions. But let's also not forget that the person who brought down this program and exposed it to the world was also a PSU grad - the amazing Sara Ganim. She has done incredible work here, and deserves a lot of credit.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 9:08 AM on July 12, 2012 [23 favorites]


What I would do:

Ten year death penalty.
Current scholarship athletes are allowed to freely transfer to another program, and those programs are allowed to have extra students. (Two or three per school.) The athletes didn't do this - lets not wreck them.

This would mean a several billion dollar penalty to Penn State. That sounds about right. (Well, that and more arrests and more jail.)

I really wish Paterno was still alive to face the music.
posted by andreaazure at 9:08 AM on July 12, 2012 [12 favorites]


From snickdoodle's Black Shoe Diaries link:
"Today with the report released by Judge Louis Freeh, the Penn State Board of Trustees delivered on the commitment we made last November when we engaged Judge Freeh to conduct an independent investigation into the University's actions regarding former Penn State employee, Jerry Sandusky, and the handling of allegations of the child abuse crimes of which he has since been found guilty.

Judge Freeh and his team conducted a rigorous, eight-month investigation into all aspects of the University's actions to determine where breakdowns occurred and what changes should be made for the future. We like many others have eagerly anticipated Judge Freeh's Report of the findings of his investigation.

His report has just been released at http://thefreehreportonpsu.com/ and we currently are reviewing his findings and recommendations. We expect a comprehensive analysis of our policies, procedures and controls related to identifying and reporting crimes and misconduct, including failures or gaps that may have allowed alleged misconduct to go undetected or unreported. We will provide our initial response later today.

We want to ensure we are giving the report careful scrutiny and consideration before making any announcements or recommendations. We are convening an internal team comprising the Board of Trustees, University administration and our legal counsel to begin analyzing the report and digesting Judge Freeh's findings.

As we anticipate the review and approval process will take some time, our initial response and immediate next steps will be presented at 3:30 at the Dayton/Taylor Conference Room at the Hilton Scranton & Conference Center.

These top-line reactions will provide an overview of our process for developing and implementing a plan once we have studied the report and have a better understanding of what it means and how we can implement findings to strengthen Penn State's role as a leading academic institution and ensure that what occurred will never be allowed to happen again." *
This afternoon's press conference should be very interesting.
posted by ericb at 9:10 AM on July 12, 2012


Can someone more knowledgeable talk about whether the death penalty is even a possibility? What are the possible outcomes of even having this report?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:10 AM on July 12, 2012


There seems to be some confusion on this: "Death penalty" in the context of the NCAA refers to a season-or-more suspension of the program. It does not mean "No more Penn State football ever," despite the name. It was named that by the media, not the NCAA itself.
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:12 AM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Current scholarship athletes are allowed to freely transfer to another program, and those programs are allowed to have extra students. (Two or three per school.) The athletes didn't do this - lets not wreck them.


Transfer? Why? Let them keep their scholarships and stick to their studies. They're student-athletes, here to get their degrees, right?

Right?

Oh, you mean it's a legal fiction? Well, a legal fiction is a solemn thing. Get to class.
posted by ocschwar at 9:16 AM on July 12, 2012 [8 favorites]


They should shut them down, just like they should shut down participation in LIBOR for all of the banks who fucked with it. A year, ten years, whatever.

You say, "this is not acceptable", and then -- this is the important part -- you do not accept it.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:17 AM on July 12, 2012 [19 favorites]


I agree with that principle, but anyone who wants to sever ties with Penn State should be free to do so without sacrificing their ability to attend another college due to NCAA rules.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:18 AM on July 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


These men - who made millions of dollars per year - and were considered the top men in their respective fields, failed to protect children from a rapist in the hopes of not tarnishing their "legacy".

Their lives and fortunes should be forfeited. They should go to jail.

They failed to fully appreciate the risks and costs associated with their (in)actions and so the program should die. It should serve and stand as a message that some things are far more important than some dipshit college football coach's "legacy".

And among them is maybe not letting little boys get raped.


Paterno is dead and his "legacy" is overshadowed by his complicity in child rape. His estate is going to get sued like a house on fire, and his family financially ruined. Some idiots are going to protest, but they're idiots.

Burn the fucking thing to the ground.

Why stop with the football program? Burn the whole university to the ground!

The guilty should be punished, the Penn State football program should be brought to heel and put in its place. But people who had nothing to do with child rape should not be punished. That's all I am saying.
posted by vibrotronica at 9:19 AM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


... Paterno The Legend will rise from the ashes

What Penn State should really do is tear down that statue of him which fans idolize.
CBS Philly -- Vote: Should The Joe Paterno Statue At Penn State Come Down? Currently: 69.5% | Yes.

Star-Ledger -- Should Penn State take down Joe Paterno statue on campus? Poll. Currently: 75.36% | Yes.

NESN -- Vote: Should Penn State's Joe Paterno Statue Be Taken Down? Currently: 66.94% | Yes.
posted by ericb at 9:19 AM on July 12, 2012


NCAA rules prohibit scholarship athletes from transferring schools and receiving another scholarship. This is done to prevent "free agency", in effect, in the athletics programs.

Clearly this is a time that requires a change to that.
posted by andreaazure at 9:20 AM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


I was confused at first by the "Penn State, Paterno Fully Exonerated" crawl on CNN and Fox. But now I know their news has to marinate like a rich stew before consumption.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 9:22 AM on July 12, 2012 [11 favorites]


These are still on sale in downtown State College.

Unfuckingbelievable.
posted by ericb at 9:22 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


NCAA rules prohibit scholarship athletes from transferring schools and receiving another scholarship. This is done to prevent "free agency", in effect, in the athletics programs.

Clearly this is a time that requires a change to that.


The NCAA doesn't really prohibit it, you just lose a year of eligibility if you do it. And that year is often waived if your school gets sanctions that you had nothing to do with -- some players took advantage of this to leave USC's football program because of its NCAA penalties a few years back.
posted by Etrigan at 9:23 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


In the runup to the Sandusky verdict, many of them truly thought that the state hadn't proved its case.

I find the denial to be the absurdist claim that more than a dozen people collaborated in lies that were documented independently years apart from each other. And that's not counting the allegations by Debra Long regarding her son, Matt, when he was foster child in the Sandusky household. Considerable amounts of victim testimony were supported by documentation of Sandusky's suspicious behavior.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 9:24 AM on July 12, 2012


Rude Pundit said it well: "Frankly, the corpse of Joe Paterno should be displayed naked in the quad until the stupid goddamned glasses rot off his fucking face."
posted by notsnot at 9:25 AM on July 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


Paterno is dead and his "legacy" is overshadowed by his complicity in child rape. His estate is going to get sued like a house on fire, and his family financially ruined. Some idiots are going to protest, but they're idiots.

Is there a silent majority at Penn State not represented by the rioters and the people hawking wares in support of Paterno and the football program? Because I haven't seen it.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:25 AM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


The professional in me would really love to see a picture of them weighing the statue at the scrapyard.
posted by localroger at 9:28 AM on July 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


Is there a silent majority at Penn State not represented by the rioters and the people hawking wares in support of Paterno and the football program? Because I haven't seen it.

I don't know, but I can tell you that I am consistently surprised that, when people are confronted with the fact that a creed/organization they identify with is being actively harmful to others, many will defend the creed/organization rather than changing their identification with it.

It's interesting how many low-level survival mechanisms end up screwing with higher-level functions.
posted by Mooski at 9:33 AM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


If he were to try to get a job elsewhere, I think they'd want to know why a fixture like himself was suddenly booted.

This is the part of the story we're not seeing enough about. Like any rarefied profession, D-1 football coaches are a small community. Sandusky got slapped down by PSU in the prime of his wildly successful career, running the defense for Linebacker U. And yet he chose not to pursue a head coaching position elsewhere? Part of that may have been the sweet pervy setup he got from PSU on the way out the door, but a big part of it was also that his secret was out and no other program was likely to touch him with a ten foot pole. Obviously nobody's talking now but I guarantee Jerry's "little problem" was known beyond Happy Valley.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 9:35 AM on July 12, 2012 [8 favorites]


I think part of why the ability to cancel a year or more of football came to be known as the "death penalty" is because, when handed down, it irrevocably destroys the program, and even the affiliated conference in the case of SMU.

Not saying it's not a just penalty, just saying that's why it'll never be handed down again. This might be the test of that unofficial policy. Time will tell, I guess.
posted by absalom at 9:36 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


vibrotronica You seem very strongly committed to the idea that the Penn State football program is somehow essential and should not, under any circumstances, be damaged.

Why is that?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but Penn State is a university, yes? Not a football corporation?

So what's the problem with ending the, self evidently problematic, football program for a few years in order to drive home to everyone that this sort of thing is intolerable? It won't hurt the core purpose of the university, is not to produce a football team but rather to educate.

I do think it's necessary for one important reason: all those other teams need to be reminded that all the money and accolades they get don't render them invulnerable. Do you really think Penn State is the only football team covering up for crimes?

And, finally, I think it needs to be done to penalize the idiots still worshiping Paterno and football. It is altogether fitting that his true legacy would be the destruction of the team he was so willing to sacrifice rape victims to protect, and that those obsessive fans should be punished for their idolatry by having the object of their worship destroyed.

Let the university get back to its real job: teaching. Maybe in five or ten years we can risk Penn State having a football team again. But not now.
posted by sotonohito at 9:36 AM on July 12, 2012 [41 favorites]


Specific men carried out this atrocity, but it was the culture of Penn State that told them to act on the principle "First do no harm to football." A janitor saw Sandusky blowing a kid in 2000, and was afraid he'd get fired if he reported it. He's quoted in the report saying "football runs this university." No more football for Penn State until everybody understands this is wrong.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 9:37 AM on July 12, 2012 [52 favorites]


The media focuses on the assholes rioting and hawking wares, because it's more interesting than the average citizen who doesn't want to be interviewed. There are a lot of people from State College and affiliated with Penn State who are disgusted and saddened.
posted by backwords at 9:38 AM on July 12, 2012


Rangeboy: "I like the Onion best when its writers get angry (see also: the 9/11 issue.)"

And, oh boy, they sure are angry about this.
posted by schmod at 9:40 AM on July 12, 2012 [10 favorites]


The victims are going to get a shitload of money. Penn State is going to pay, which means that its students are going to pay, one way or another.

I wonder if tuition will just go up a couple percent for the child rape payouts. Or maybe it will be a separate fee tacked on later, like the Student Activities Fee. The Child Rape Endorsement Fee. Paid each semester before you can register for classes.
posted by Jeff Mangum's Penny-farthing at 9:43 AM on July 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


I absolutely hope that the administrators who signed off on this face criminal charges. And I like the idea of shutting down the football program for a few years to help communicate how unacceptable the actions were.
posted by Forktine at 9:44 AM on July 12, 2012


His estate is going to get sued like a house on fire, and his family financially ruined.

IANAL. Can the survivors of a convicted criminal really be sued by the victims? That seems off to me. Now if family members can be proven to have been complicit (and not under coercion), maybe? But that would require a separate trial, no?

And Sandusky evidently abused at least one of his grandkids, it seems counterproductive to bankrupt a family that also includes his victims.

As per the football program, this is worse than throwing games, or paying players (and how many people in the SMU scandal were also just innocently employed by the football program?) This is a level of wrongness that needs an extremely strong and expensive response. I can't think of anything (besides jail time for those involved) more effective than shutting down the program for a long time (more than one season, certainly) to make it sink in: the rights of children not to be abused trumps profit, sport, tradition, and nostalgia.
posted by emjaybee at 9:45 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Penn State is going to pay, which means that its students are going to pay, one way or another.

Maybe the money could come from the more than $200M in donations Penn State received in the last year.
posted by MoonOrb at 9:46 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]




I have several friends that are PSU grads. So far, not one has shown even the slightest hint of a change in attitude about the school or Paterno because of this. I wonder if this will make a difference?
I'm guessing probably not.


I have a good friend who is a PSU grad and comes from a PSU family. They have been big fans for a long time. For my friend, this has changed a LOT. He emailed me this morning about this - he wants Joe's statue gone, the library renamed, etc. He thinks it's a disgrace and absolutely horrifying. He also thinks he's in the minority.
posted by pointystick at 9:53 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is a defining moment for the NCAA. Either it administers the death penalty to the Penn State football program or it affirms what is already widely believed to be true: that money making machine of college athletics vastly outweighs concerns about academics, integrity, and--in this case--the victimization of children.

I'd like to think that this is the NCAA's opportunity to legitimize (redeem?) itself as an organization that has its priorities in order, but I expect that the Penn State thing is such a special case that even if it does drop the hammer in a meaningful way the reaction will be, "Well, duh," so there is not a huge upside to the NCAA in any of this.
posted by MoonOrb at 9:54 AM on July 12, 2012 [8 favorites]


emjaybee: "IANAL. Can the survivors of a convicted criminal really be sued by the victims? That seems off to me. Now if family members can be proven to have been complicit (and not under coercion), maybe? But that would require a separate trial, no?"

If I rob a bank and die, I'm pretty sure that the money I stole isn't going to be distributed as part of my inheritance.

I imagine that similar statutes are in effect here... otherwise, you'd probably have a lot more terminally-ill people acting out the plot of Breaking Bad to ensure their family's financial security with minimal risk to themselves...
posted by schmod at 9:55 AM on July 12, 2012


Rude Pundit said it well: "Frankly, the corpse of Joe Paterno should be displayed naked in the quad until the stupid goddamned glasses rot off his fucking face."

Two words: Oliver Cromwell.
posted by tommasz at 9:56 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


MoonOrb: "This is a defining moment for the NCAA."

Why does the NCAA need to be the one to deliver the blow? Can't the program be shut down by the state or the courts?
posted by schmod at 9:56 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why does the NCAA need to be the one to deliver the blow? Can't the program be shut down by the state or the courts?

Or the university itself -- which allegedly exists first as an educational institution -- for that matter?
posted by Gelatin at 9:59 AM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


"failures or gaps that may have allowed alleged misconduct to go undetected or unreported"


posted by ClaudiaCenter at 10:00 AM on July 12, 2012


The media focuses on the assholes rioting and hawking wares, because it's more interesting than the average citizen who doesn't want to be interviewed. There are a lot of people from State College and affiliated with Penn State who are disgusted and saddened.

I didn't ask about "a lot," I asked about a majority.

The victims are going to get a shitload of money. Penn State is going to pay, which means that its students are going to pay, one way or another.

Take it from those involved in the coverup, the aforementioned donations, the estate of Paterno, and if necessary the salaries of the football staff. Done.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:00 AM on July 12, 2012


MoonOrb: Hahaha imagine thinking, "You know, I have a couple extra bucks in my wallet... I could donate to UNICEF... Nah, I'll just write a check to help defray the costs of my alma mater's child rape nightmare."
posted by Jeff Mangum's Penny-farthing at 10:01 AM on July 12, 2012


Can the survivors of a convicted criminal really be sued by the victims?

I think it's a reference to a possible civil suit against the estate, which may ruin the family financially via the loss of the estate, the reputational harm, plus possibly investing their own money defending the suit. I don't think the commenter was claiming that the victims had a basis for suing the family independent of their claim against the perpetrators (and thus against their estates).

If I rob a bank and die, I'm pretty sure that the money I stole isn't going to be distributed as part of my inheritance.

That's a different issue (see, e.g., slayer statutes and restitution, disgorgement, unjust enrichment, etc). I don't think the perpetrators profited directly from their crimes (e.g. as far as I know they didn't extort money from the victims or somesuch).
posted by jedicus at 10:01 AM on July 12, 2012


The state would have to answer to the voters, and I suspect that even after this, shutting down Penn State football would be very unpopular in PA. I also don't see how the courts could tell Penn State that they have to shut down the football program. From a purely legal standpoint, there are only 4 accused here, right? The courts focus on punishing them. And as a long time follower of NCAA football, I don't the odds on the NCAA administering the death penalty are effectively zero.
posted by COD at 10:03 AM on July 12, 2012


Grrr...

I don't the odds on the NCAA administering the death penalty are effectively zero.
posted by COD at 10:04 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


schmod, that's an interesting question. I suppose the NCAA doesn't have to be the one, but it is the obvious entity that has the authority to do so. AFAIK, only the NCAA or the University itself (which, seriously, I think they should really consider doing) have the power to shut down the program.

A court would have to have some sort of reason to do it--other than, Hey, we don't think you deserve a football program anymore. Like, someone would have to argue that the continued existence of the football program creates a tangible harm so that the University should be enjoined from having it.

One (unlikely) possibility would be that a shutdown of the football program is made a condition of any settlement with the victims. That would be pretty cool, I think.
posted by MoonOrb at 10:05 AM on July 12, 2012


shutting down Penn State football would be very unpopular in PA.

Shutting down the baths early in the AIDS epidemic was unpopular, too. What's your point?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:05 AM on July 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


Last I heard, the NCAA didn't actually kill anyone, unless I've got things REALLY confused....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:05 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wouldn't the PA legislature also have the ability to defund the football program, or is that explicitly removed from their purview?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:08 AM on July 12, 2012


Well, I think it's pretty obvious that Penn State *should* voluntarily shut down their football program for several years. I just don't think they'll do it.
posted by sotonohito at 10:11 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't agree with this article in its entirety, but it lays out a reasonable case for not killing football at Penn State -- the team funds itself as well as much of the rest of the athletic department. There are a lot of people who have received a degree from Penn State because of football, regardless of whether they ever set foot in Beaver Stadium.
posted by Etrigan at 10:17 AM on July 12, 2012


vibrotronica You seem very strongly committed to the idea that the Penn State football program is somehow essential and should not, under any circumstances, be damaged.

You misread me. I don't care about the Penn State football team any more than I care about the UC Santa Cruz Fighting Bannana Slugs. My family are rabid UT Vols fans. I don't really pay much attention to college football any more, besides maybe a few Saturday afternoons a year and New Years Day. I have maybe seen Penn State play a couple of times in my whole life.

What I object to is the notion of collective punishment of an entire community for the crimes of a few individuals. Child rape is horrible. The guy who raped kids is in jail for the rest of his life, as he should be. The people who covered up for him should be punished, and it looks like they are being punished. what about the kids who are playing now? What did they do? What about the fans? What did they do? What about the guy who runs a restaurant in Happy Valley who makes all of his money during football season? What did he do?

People take college football too seriously. I take Star Wars too seriously. I should get a sense of perspective. There are lots of Penn State fans who need to get a sense of perspective, and maybe this will help them get some perspective. But once again, I reiterate, the child rapists and their enablers should be punished, but those who didn't rape anyone and didn't enable any one should not be punished. I can't be any clearer than that.

BTW, I am also an atheist and I feel the same way about the Catholic Church. Those who committed crimes and those who covered up those crimes should be punished. The individual paritioners who did nothing wrong should be active in forcing the church to reform, but they should not be punished.
posted by vibrotronica at 10:18 AM on July 12, 2012 [11 favorites]



Well, I think it's pretty obvious that Penn State *should* voluntarily shut down their football program for several years. I just don't think they'll do it.
posted by Danf at 10:19 AM on July 12, 2012



People take college football too seriously. I take Star Wars too seriously.


If you see Mark Hammill raping a boy, call the police.

Otherwise, don't sweat it.
posted by ocschwar at 10:21 AM on July 12, 2012 [12 favorites]


What I object to is the notion of collective punishment of an entire community for the crimes of a few individuals.

The crimes of those individuals (both the acts themselves and the covering up of said acts) were enabled by a system that puts its continued existence at greater priority than the safety of children. The individuals committed these crimes within that context.

Punishing individuals without acknowledging that something must change systemically might make people feel better, but it's still too much "la la la la I can't hear you." Denial is part of what got them into this shithole.
posted by rtha at 10:24 AM on July 12, 2012 [12 favorites]


I found out this year that the man who sexually abused me at an all boys school when I was 12 and 13 is now headmastering in Maturious. I emailed a letter to the head of an orgization that he is part of. I also sent a letter to someone who was the headmaster of the school after I left, and was a teacher when I was there. Both of these letters were explicit, and both of these letters were responsed to basically by the recipents saying we aren't going to do anything, and please never contact us again.

The sandusky mess reminds me of two things:

a) people who exploit minors sexually are often charasimatic.
b) geniunely confronting those who committed acts of sexual abuse often requires moral courage enough to destabilize wealthy orginzations that are responsible for people's livliehoods and cultures. not that this should be done, but it's enormously difficult.

i am glad this is finalyl ocoming out, i am angry and sad and exhausted, and i feel really selfish for making this about me, but it reminds me of that history.
posted by PinkMoose at 10:25 AM on July 12, 2012 [40 favorites]


What I object to is the notion of collective punishment of an entire community for the crimes of a few individuals. Child rape is horrible. The guy who raped kids is in jail for the rest of his life, as he should be. The people who covered up for him should be punished, and it looks like they are being punished.

Should the janitors who didn't report an incident because they were deathly afraid of losing their jobs be punished?

No one is saying the football program should be shut down "because child rape." We're saying that the football program has created an environment of fear so powerful, that even child rape goes unreported and unpunished. The football program, as a culture, allowed Sandusky to commit his acts without fear. That culture can't continue.
posted by muddgirl at 10:27 AM on July 12, 2012 [25 favorites]


I have several friends that are PSU grads. So far, not one has shown even the slightest hint of a change in attitude about the school or Paterno because of this. I wonder if this will make a difference?

I'm guessing probably not.


The power to destroy a planet pales in comparison to the power of cognitive dissonance. There are a lot of people in this world who would let Sandusky feed children into a wood chipper so that they could have a tailgate party every Saturday.
posted by prepmonkey at 10:28 AM on July 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


shutting down Penn State football would be very unpopular in PA.

Shutting down the baths early in the AIDS epidemic was unpopular, too. What's your point?


My point was, the state government in PA will not be shutting down the football program.

Shutting down the bath houses may have been unpopular among the client base, but the client base didn't amount to a majority of the voting population.
posted by COD at 10:29 AM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]




(Also, I have to wonder - what dirt does Sandusky have on Paterno, such that he continued to let him have close access to children even after knowing about the 'first' assault in May of 1998? I can understand (not condone, but understand) covering up evidence of child rape/assault to protect the program, but I can't understand encouraging Sandusky to continue, which is basically what the football program did.)
posted by muddgirl at 10:32 AM on July 12, 2012


Should the janitors who didn't report an incident because they were deathly afraid of losing their jobs be punished?

They should face due process and be punished if found guilty.
posted by vibrotronica at 10:32 AM on July 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


Paterno's family has released a statement. It's really kind of sickening.

"The idea that any sane, responsible adult would knowingly cover up for a child predator is impossible to accept."

"Joe Paterno did not know Jerry Sandusky was a child predator."

"If Joe Paterno had understood what Sandusky was, a fear of bad publicity would not have factored into his actions."
posted by that's how you get ants at 10:32 AM on July 12, 2012


Sickening is the right word for it.
posted by blucevalo at 10:34 AM on July 12, 2012


They should face due process and be punished if found guilty.

But aren't they themselves victims? I recognize that the moral thing to do is report this to the police, lose your job, and accept that probably nothing good will come of it, but frankly I think that's a choice that few of us have to face. I really don't understand the viewpoint that we should punish the victims of Penn State Football culture but let the culture continue.
posted by muddgirl at 10:35 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Listen, I graduated from Penn State with an engineering degree in 1990, and was an ardent supporter of the football program, as I was lots of other university athletics. I am sickened by what has happened and have been since the allegations came out. If you are going to say that my support of a football program means i was somehow responsible for what has happened here and we should shut down the whole university then I think you're insane. Maybe you should revoke my diploma? Why not level the town of State College? I would be fine with a suspension of the football program for a while to "reset" the culture, but there are thousands of students and professors for whom Penn State is about learning and academics and couldn't care less about football.
I've been embarrassed by the blind excuse makers as have many of my friends who still live in central PA. Please don't paint us all with the same brush.
posted by sciencejock at 10:36 AM on July 12, 2012 [14 favorites]


"The idea that any sane, responsible adult would knowingly cover up for a child predator is impossible to accept."

The idea that a sane, responsible adult would molest children is likewise impossible to accept. The proper conclusion is that Jerry Sandusky is either not sane, not responsible or both, not that the accusations are automatically false.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:37 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


vibrotronica, you leave the Banana Slugs out of this! =)

(Best mascot. Ever.)
posted by andreaazure at 10:37 AM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


As a grad student at Penn State who came here to work with a specific faculty member and who does not even know how one plays football, this has been an... interesting year.

Some of you may remember that in November I defended what I assumed to be the "silent majority" of students who didn't participate in the riots after Paterno's firing. My attitudes have changed somewhat, especially after the "Kim Jong-Il-esque" funeral and memorial services for him in January -- which I would have found weird and cultish had there been no abuse scandal, but which were completely unconscionable to me given the actual context. One of my friends was angry at my criticism of the teary sendoff he received in January, saying that if it weren't for Paterno, I wouldn't be a grad student here. He's right. And if my uncle had tits he'd be my aunt, so what? (Forgive the rude metaphor.)

From the Freeh report, it seems that when Sandusky wanted a title at Penn State to "continue his work with children" after his retirement (in 1999 -- after Paterno knew about the 1998 incident), Paterno wrote "no," but along the sidebar, "Volunteer Position Director – Positive Action for Youth."

Many of my grad student friends who were Paterno supporters have changed their point of view as some of the emails the Freeh Group dug up were leaked, implicating Paterno in more than just guilt by omission. I am not sure that I can expect this from the undergrads. In the summer course I am teaching I see a few students every day with "JoePa" related t-shirts.

Yes, the Paterno statue -- calling him a "humanitarian" and quoting him as saying he wanted to be remembered for making the University a better place -- has gone from ironic to sickening and should be removed; I doubt this will happen. Certainly, neither Beaver Stadium nor Park Ave (a main road in the north part of campus) will be renamed after Paterno, as some had suggested in January (!)

More impetus for me to finish up my dissertation, I suppose.
posted by dhens at 10:39 AM on July 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


You know what else I take too seriously? Arguments on the internet.
posted by vibrotronica at 10:41 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's funny and ironic that folks in Pennsylvania are only now beginning to take this scandal seriously, now that it's threatening the integrity of their football program.

You have a strange sense of humor, sir. Also, I ask you to please avoid making sweeping generalizations about a population of nearly 13 million people based on some shit you found rattling around in your head.
posted by Mister_A at 10:45 AM on July 12, 2012 [8 favorites]


For the record, the UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs football program has both never had an NCAA infraction nor have ever been defeated on the football field. (nor have they ever won)
posted by mcstayinskool at 10:45 AM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


TVs at PSU student center suddenly switched to public access

The handful of students and alumni that gathered in Penn State's student center this morning to watch the release of the Freeh report live were stunned when the channel suddenly switched. . . . [J]ust as an anchor was ready to speak about the report, the television screens suddenly went blank. They then turned to a public access channel featuring a reporter from The Morning Call newspaper in Allentown about the state budget.

hmm.
posted by schroedinger at 10:45 AM on July 12, 2012


muddgirl: I have to wonder - what dirt does Sandusky have on Paterno, such that he continued to let him have close access to children even after knowing about the 'first' assault in May of 1998?

I think you give people too much credit for moral consciousness by assuming there would have been personal coercion involved. All Paterno had to do was think about the 'good of the program.' That's all he ever did. It was inseparable from his identity. People will say that like it's a good thing, but in this case, it meant that he was willing to rationalize inaction w.r.t. Sandusky's behavior.
posted by lodurr at 10:46 AM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Some things I meant to link but forgot:

Some Penn State folk are still trying to push the "Paterno as fall guy for the administration" line.


Academically, Graham Spanier was "a family sociologist, demographer, and marriage and family therapist."

Even my friend who was mad at me in January has now admitted that Penn State is going to have its pants sued off, and that the victims deserve every penny.
posted by dhens at 10:49 AM on July 12, 2012


The improper influence of sports in our society and culture is a festering problem everywhere, not just PSU, whether it's dads fighting at a little league game, potential hall-of-fame steroid users, or the abomination of child sexual abuse at Penn State. The whole country needs a gut-check.
posted by sciencejock at 10:52 AM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


I want to see a system put in place that incentivizes athletic departments and college administrations everywhere to fully and fairly investigate claims of sexual assault. I want to see us learn from PSU's mistakes.

Because Jerry Sandusky isn't the only child rapist to ever worm his way into a position of authority in a locker room. And it seems to me like the point of this exercise should be to not just punish those responsible for covering for a child rapist but also to lessen the likelihood of this happening again.

I'm not sure imposing the death sentence on the PSU football program will accomplish this. But extirpating, fining, and jailing every single individual whose wilful inaction abetted a child rapist would be a good start.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:52 AM on July 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


vibrotronica I think that's the source of my disagreement with you.

You see this as a crime committed by a handful of individuals. And therefore you see collective punishment as wrong.

I see this as a crime resulting from the actions of a collective. In my mind it's a collective crime, so I have no problem with collective punishment. It wasn't just the few who actually committed crimes who are at fault, it was the many who produced a culture that allowed and encouraged those crimes. Without the many lavishing the football program with worship, praise, money, and attention, it never would have crossed anyone's mind to protect the football program at the expense of rape victims.

It wasn't Joe Paterno that caused this problem, nor the various other administrators, coaches, etc that looked the other way. It was the culture of football idolatry that caused the problem. That culture must be destroyed so that the crimes cannot be repeated. The only method of accomplishing this is to suspend the football program for long enough that the culture withers and dies in the absence of it's worship object.

Later, after the culture of football idolatry has died in Penn State, then they can have a football team again. And hopefully not build up a culture of football worship that puts all things but football into the realm of secondary considerations.

And, I also maintain, we must also terrify the other football teams and programs. I have absolutely no doubt that at other institutions where the culture of football idolatry is deeply rooted there are crimes just as bad, if not worse, that have been and currently are, covered up to protect the football program. Perhaps by destroying the idol here, the other idolaters can be frightened enough that they will stop covering up the crimes their idols have committed and come clean.
posted by sotonohito at 10:53 AM on July 12, 2012 [30 favorites]


Also also, regarding the massive donations to PSU in the past year: while I have no doubt that much, if not most, of that was an emotional response to the perceived danger the University was in because of the Sandusky matter, there was talk (before the scandal broke out) that the state's allocation to the PSU budget was going to be cut in half (or more), which may have prompted some of the giving.
posted by dhens at 10:53 AM on July 12, 2012


But extirpating, fining, and jailing every single individual whose wilful inaction abetted a child rapist would be a good start.

How would we even locate the members of the football program or the school in generally who may have known about Sandusky but were "smart" enough not to say anything to anyone?
posted by muddgirl at 10:55 AM on July 12, 2012


All Paterno had to do was think about the 'good of the program.' That's all he ever did. It was inseparable from his identity. People will say that like it's a good thing, but in this case, it meant that he was willing to rationalize inaction w.r.t. Sandusky's behavior.

Yeah. No dirt required.

Once Paterno and the others had made the first decision to let Sandusky slide, they'd have to let all subsequent acts slide too, otherwise they'd reveal themselves as enablers and coverup artists.

What started as "for the good of the program" eventually devolved into "for the good of my own skin."
posted by notyou at 11:01 AM on July 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


People take college football too seriously. I take Star Wars too seriously. I should get a sense of perspective. There are lots of Penn State fans who need to get a sense of perspective, and maybe this will help them get some perspective. But once again, I reiterate, the child rapists and their enablers should be punished, but those who didn't rape anyone and didn't enable any one should not be punished.

I'd argue otherwise. To avoid bringing real people into this, let's say that John Smith was the hot-shit cinematographer for a movie franchise - Star Fighting. He raped some kids. The director of this franchise Sarah Roe, knew about it and did nothing because she likes the guy and it's not that big a deal, etc, etc. Obviously both should be punished.

However, let's say that the reason she did nothing was because she didn't want to hurt the franchise. That she might have turned him in if it wasn't for the big bucks that Star Fighting VII - Kaboom! Kapow! would bring in (not to mention the merchendising). In this case I'd argue that the franchise is part of the problem. If he could have been turned in without damaging the brand, he would have been. In this case, however, the money and the brand was important than the kids.

That's why people are talking about shutting down the football program. Not for collective punishment, but because the importance of the football program was actually a part of the problem. If the assistant coach of the lacrosse team had been the one sodomizing kids in the shower they'd have fired him so fast that nothing would have remained except a pair of smoking shoes. But when it's football, a different set of rules come into play.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 11:01 AM on July 12, 2012 [27 favorites]


zombieflanders: " Is there a silent majority at Penn State not represented by the rioters and the people hawking wares in support of Paterno and the football program? Because I haven't seen it."

Yes, and I don't think we've been silent - it's just that we're just not as loud as the rioters/dead-enders were/are.

I received an excellent education at Penn State. I learned a lot about life, and I made many enduring friendships. While I was there, I also participated in several Second Mile events as a volunteer, so the Sandusky revelations sickened and horrified me on a personal level. In addition to the pain anyone feels when they hear of a tragedy like this, I felt for all of the Second Mile kids I met, and wondered if any of them had been, or would eventually go on to be molested by the disgusting pig who used his position with the football team to carry out his crimes. I still think about this a lot when I look at pictures from those events.

At the same time, I've always been a passionate fan of the football program, and though I've long been troubled by the dark side of big money college sports, I (wrongly) saw Penn State's program as an exception to the rule. Yes, they pulled in big dollars. No, I figured, they probably weren't nearly as good as the squeaky-clean image they cultivated, but for a long time, the program really was squeaky clean, and when it wasn't, they sure did a goddamn good job of hiding the skeletons in the closet. During this time it was fun to watch the games, and you felt like you were rooting for a good group of kids led by a good group of men. How were we to know any different?

Well, now we do. And, personally, I don't blame any other Penn Staters who saw the media frenzy to condemn Paterno as a rush to judgement, because it was. The facts we knew within days of the explosion of the Sandusky scandal left much room for questioning exactly who knew what, and when. The firing of Paterno was handled very poorly (the Freeh report says as much) and the University administration seemed to be covering their asses instead of trying to get to the bottom of the story. I count myself among the group of alums who were primarily heartbroken by the crimes, but also angry at how the fallout was handled by the school, and distrustful of a bloodthirsty media.

Now that we have specific knowledge of Paterno being aware of the 1998 incident (there have been leaks to this effect over the past couple months, but nothing definitive), and of at least some continuing involvement in how Sandusky was kept around, I think we can officially call anyone who supports Paterno himself a dead-ender. If you see any Penn Staters saying they still support Joe, go ahead and flame them into oblivion -- they deserve it. Joe did a lot of good things in his many years at the helm of the football program, and those good things don't just vanish, but, put together, they don't amount to a hill of beans when compared to his self-serving actions at the end that endangered so many.

Beyond Paterno, Schultz, Curley, and of course the main perpetrator, I am sure there are surely other figures in the football program, athletic department, and university administration hierarchy who could have done more, and I hope the continuing investigations ferret out these people and hold them to account. But once we've found and punished the people who actually participated in this conspiracy, do we really need to aim the bazooka of condemnation at the smoldering ruins of the PSU football program, or the university itself? To "send a message?" I don't care if they ever play another game of football at Penn State. I enjoyed the games, I enjoyed the pageantry and tradition, and I will look back fondly on my time watching football games no matter what happens in the future. If they start the 2012 season as scheduled in a couple of months, I suppose I'll just sort of watch as an interested observer, with a bit of an empty feeling of having lost an old friend. There are many other alums like me, who didn't riot, who want those responsible punished, but still want their university to be able to survive as an educational institution that also, by the way, has some student athletes. Are we complicit? Should our donations to the school be viewed with suspicion? How about all of the PA taxpayers who fund some of Penn State's operating budget? Should they insist that their representatives cut off all funding to the university?

I don't think the NCAA has the standing to punish the football program, because their go-to justification for doing so ("lack of institutional control") is the exact opposite of what occurred in this case. If anything, there was an excess of institutional control that led to covering up for and protecting the serial child rapist that once worked for the football program. It's the very system that the NCAA created, where programs police themselves and get credit for self-reporting violations (most of which have to do with making sure "amateur" athletes are kept from reaping the rewards of their talent/fame) that, along with the actions of some horrible men, allowed this tragedy to continue after it was first reported. The human costs of this tragedy mean absolutely nothing to the NCAA, so to let them be the ones that mete out justice seems terribly wrong to me.

This cover-up has been described as protecting the football team and protecting the University, but it was really about protecting individual legacies. Those responsible for covering up Sandusky's crimes didn't give a shit about what would happen to Penn State alums going into job interviews with a resume that might as well say Pedophile State University on it. They also didn't care about the taxpayers of Pennsylvania who now see one of the largest employers in the state and an engine of learning and innovation as a depreciating asset. Institutions are made of people, and the way you clean up the institutions is to punish the people within them who do wrong. If the institution is so diseased that it can't continue, then yeah, you kill it, but I don't feel that way about Penn State the university, and I don't even feel that way about Penn State the football program.

If my words here sound conflicted and jumbled, they probably are. I don't know if "compartmentalization" is the right word to use here, but I have decided that I'm going to be more precise about how I describe my pride in being a Penn Stater. When I look at the two diplomas on my office wall, I am still proud of my association with the school, the education I got there, and the friends I made. That pride vanishes when I look at my various PSU football-related tchotchkes now, and I think this gets to where I'm at on the whole "nuke the University/football program from orbit" issue. My views might evolve, but right now, I think the focus should be supporting victims of abuse everywhere, punishing the enablers, and solving the problems of big-money college athletics in general, not just at Penn State.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:08 AM on July 12, 2012 [20 favorites]


The future disposition of the statue will most likely be decided by the consensus of alumni.

"after the culture of football idolatry has died in Penn State"

Forget that happening. The problem you address is not endemic to Penn State football. It permeates the entirety of sports in the United States and industry and commerce in general.
posted by Ardiril at 11:08 AM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's not just an issue of letting Sandusky slide, though. Look at the timeline: This is after the first investigation into Sandusky for child assault, but before he was caught the second time, which was covered up
*A retirement agreement with Sandusky is reached in June 1999, including an unusual lump sum payment of $168,000, an agreement for the University to "work collaboratively" with Sandusky on Second Mile and other community activities, and free lifetime use of East Area Locker Room facilities.
*As the retirement package is being finalized, Curley requests the emergency re-hire of Sandusky for the 1999 football season, which is approved.
*In August 1999, Sandusky is granted "emeritus" rank, which carries several privileges, including access to University recreational facilities. Documents show the unusual request for emeritus rank originated from Schultz, was approved by Spanier, and granted by the Provost, who expressed some uneasiness about the decision given Sandusky's low academic rank and the precedent that would be set.
The football program, here, had an opportunity to quickly and discreetly get rid of Sandusky - give him the regular retirement package and say Bon Voyage. But instead they argued for a 'precedent-setting' emeritus rank.

This doesn't seem like the logical actions of a group trying to protect their football program from allegations of covering up child rape - it sounds like a football program trying to keep Sandusky quiet about something. Or maybe I'm being paranoid and Paterno genuinely liked Sandusky and thought retirement was a bad break.
posted by muddgirl at 11:10 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, now we do. And, personally, I don't blame any other Penn Staters who saw the media frenzy to condemn Paterno as a rush to judgement, because it was. The facts we knew within days of the explosion of the Sandusky scandal left much room for questioning exactly who knew what, and when.

I don't think it's fair to characterize this situation as "People rushed to judgement, and they happened, coincidentally, to be right."

People 'rushed' to judgement because this situation is quite common. Rapists tend to insinuate themselves into positions where they can rape with impunity. This means that organizational cover-ups of rapes like this almost seem like the rule rather than the exception. We just saw it happen large-scale in the Catholic church.
posted by muddgirl at 11:15 AM on July 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


And, I also maintain, we must also terrify the other football teams and programs. I have absolutely no doubt that at other institutions where the culture of football idolatry is deeply rooted there are crimes just as bad, if not worse, that have been and currently are, covered up to protect the football program. Perhaps by destroying the idol here, the other idolaters can be frightened enough that they will stop covering up the crimes their idols have committed and come clean.

I don't think deterrence through harsh punishment is ever effective. Do you think there's some coach who's watching the Penn State thing and thinking, "Well, if all that's going to happen if it comes out is that half the coaching staff and administration (including me) will be arrested and the program will get put through a years-long brutally embarrassing scandal in which I'll end up best known as a craven, pathetic enabler and unemployable hypocrite, why not cover up a molestation scandal?"

I also don't think that threatening severe punishment is likely to frighten wrongdoers into repenting as much as it's likely to frighten them into doubling-down on their attempts to cover up their sins and the sins of their subordinates.

There are some good reasons to shut down the Penn State football program, but deterrence isn't one of them.
posted by Copronymus at 11:18 AM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


Oh, and for those who want to hear from the "silent majority", look out for this documentary film when it's released.
ABOUT THIS PROJECT

NO ACT OF OURS has filmed since the story broke in early November and follows several Penn State students and the community in their quest for truth and justice. The film includes interviews with numerous State College community members, including sports fans, Penn State faculty, politicians, lawyers, and abuse survivors. NO ACT OF OURS examines what it means to be part of the “Penn State family” and how that family, like any other, deals with a member committing horrendous criminal acts.

This film makes the audience confront the question of what they would do if they witnessed or suspected someone close to them sexually abuse a child. Would they intervene? Why might they wait or simply not intervene at all? We discover that when loyalty is involved, doing the right thing is complicated. NO ACT OF OURS aims to hold a mirror up to a community reflecting their struggles with loyalty and feelings of betrayal.

In nearly every interview, the question of loyalty emerges. What am I loyal to if the administration I looked up to didn’t fulfill their legal responsibility to report alleged child sexual abuse? Can I be a loyal Penn Stater while also being critical of how the situation was handled? Betrayal also emerges from alumni feeling angry at the university and board of trustees for firing Joe Paterno, for administrators not reporting the allegations to police, and not to mention, from the alleged victims being betrayed by Jerry Sandusky as they were showered with gifts only to be subjected to serial abuse.

This scandal has drawn tremendous local and national media attention and is described as the biggest scandal in college football history. NO ACT OF OURS captures not just the facts of the case that the media has reported but takes the story further by immersing the viewer inside the community. This film demands that not just Penn State but the nation reflect on the pervasiveness of child sexual abuse in society. It takes a even closer look at why this crime is so underreported.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:18 AM on July 12, 2012


So how many of you dudes have got 'Chinatown' on BluRay?
posted by samofidelis at 11:20 AM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


For anyone who is interested, the full text of Paterno's unpublished letter that backwords mentioned.

It's been disheartening to see the Paterno family keep issuing press releases trying to protect his reputation instead of quietly letting it go...

If you go just north of campus (on the aforementioned Park Ave, in fact), you can see the Suzanne Paterno Catholic Student Faith Center being built...
posted by dhens at 11:22 AM on July 12, 2012


It's Never Lurgi Actually, and the worst part is, we have a real world example that matches your hypothetical. Let us not forget Roman Polanski, great film director and brutal rapist of **at least** one thirteen year old girl.

And let us not forget that the entire entertainment industry closed ranks around him, protected him, said vicious and mean spirited things about his victim, and celebrated when he managed to escape penalties for his crimes.

Should we have shut down Hollywood, or at least the studio he worked for, for a year or five in order to punish them for supporting Polanski? I'm leaning towards yes, actually.

tonycpsu I haven't seen anyone suggesting killing Penn State University, have I missed something?

As for student athletes, I've got no problem with student athletes. If they want to play a game of whatever on their own time in between study session that's fine by me.

I do have a problem with the entire culture of college sports that has evolved and makes mockery of the term "student athletes". They're professional athletes who pretend that they are students at a university.

Finally, since Penn State has conclusively proven that it can't handle having an athletics program, what's wrong with canceling what is supposed to be a side affair (lots of universities don't have professional athletics teams) and letting the school (which is self evidently not competent to manage a pro team) get back to teaching? Which is, IIRC, supposed to be what universities are about.

What is wrong with a university just being a university instead of a sports team that happens to keep a few teachers around?
posted by sotonohito at 11:23 AM on July 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


Penn State football is actually recruiting better than ever. Looks like all you need to get the top recruits is to operate a decades-long rape factory.
posted by Jeff Mangum's Penny-farthing at 11:24 AM on July 12, 2012


"People rushed to judgement, and they happened, coincidentally, to be right."

People rushed to judgment at Duke University over Crystal Mangum and they happened to be wrong. Establishing facts is far more important than a scandal-fueled media circus.
posted by Ardiril at 11:25 AM on July 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


muddgirl: "I don't think it's fair to characterize this situation as "People rushed to judgement, and they happened, coincidentally, to be right."

People 'rushed' to judgement because this situation is quite common. Rapists tend to insinuate themselves into positions where they can rape with impunity. This means that organizational cover-ups of rapes like this almost seem like the rule rather than the exception. We just saw it happen large-scale in the Catholic church.
"

It's also common for Islamic terrorists, for example. to be sponsored/enabled by a network that funds them, indoctrinates them, etc. But sometimes you just have "lone wolf" perpetrators who just decide to start killing people. In the initial days and weeks, it certainly looked like some Penn State officials took actions to cover for Sandusky, but it was by no means crystal clear.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:26 AM on July 12, 2012


NOT THE ONION: Nike to drop Paterno name on its day care center.
posted by peep at 11:27 AM on July 12, 2012


The Penn State football program needs to be shut down, everybody even tangentially associated with it fired, and every dollar raised or donated to the program given to the victims and related charities.

Recall that a janitor failed to report an incident of child rape because he was afraid he'd be fired for harming the reputation of the football program. If that's indicative of the mentality (and how pervasive it is from top to bottom), one way to counter it is to make it clear that *absolutely everyone* associated with a program will, at the very least, lose their jobs if they don't come forward in a situation like this. And those who took any part in a cover up should be prosecuted.

The spotlight is now on the NCAA. Failure to hand down a 'death penalty' to Penn State football will implicate them as being part of the problem, for valuing money above the welfare of children. (as if it wasn't already clear that money is their main consideration)
posted by Davenhill at 11:32 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


sotonohito: I have absolutely no doubt that at other institutions where the culture of football idolatry is deeply rooted there are crimes just as bad, if not worse, that have been and currently are, covered up to protect the football program.

Cite?
posted by rocket88 at 11:33 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


This all makes me feel so bummed and terrified. I can't shake the feeling that there's some freaky gendered crap happening here, where if the victims were all little girls, people would stop still trying to minimize what happened to them. But because they were little boys, and we have a lot of vague, contradictory beliefs about The Ways In Which Male Sexuality Is Different, it's somehow, you know... it's bad, but it's not as bad.

I found this article recently. It's about talking to your kids about the Sandusky trial, by a lady who writes about talking to your kids about sex. I thought it was really good advice. And hard to read. I hope I will be able to talk to my own little boy about this stuff throughout his childhood that will make him feel total ownership over his body, and like he can always talk to his parents if anything is going on. But that's probably what every parent thinks, and witness Sandusky's entire horrible fucking life, many of us do not succeed.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 11:34 AM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm not at all sure how convincing I find the concerns about collective punishment. We're not talking about arresting everyone who happens to be on a certain street corner when there's a protest in the area. We're considering about possible sanction of an organization that members voluntarily joined, voluntarily remained committed to, did nothing or not enough to reform, despite obvious signs of problems. This is true whether the organization that ends up being punished is the football program, the athletic department, or the university as a whole.

And yes, I do believe the signs of pathology were obvious enough that every member of those communities should have felt responsible for speaking out against them. No, not everyone in "Happy Valley" could have guessed that young people were being abused. But everyone could see that the football program had collected so much influence, so much power, so much "private law" that only the personal probity of the men at its helm could prevent wrongdoing.

Not everyone could be expected to know that boys were being raped. But everyone could hear the person in charge of academic discipline complaining that her authority over the young men in the program was completely undermined. Everyone could hear the stories of police bringing players to JoePa for correction, rather than the courts. Everyone could the locked doors and off-limits buildings beyond which only Paterno's law ran.

It's easy to become disgusted with systems of justice and discipline that rely on codes of conduct, and systems of oversight, procedures, and checks and balances. Much more satisfying to turn everything over to one man, to reassure oneself that he's a moral touchstone, a firm disciplinarian, someone who can be trusted from beginning to end with the responsibility of shaping ethical young men.

But the mechanisms of the law, and of regulation, and even the university's private discipline, exist for a reason: because single people are even more fallible than awkward systems. Because if you allow any one man to stand as father, judge, and ruler over any group of people, you risk stretching him to the point where his probity breaks.

Penn State put Joe Paterno in a position of almost complete authority over the men in his program, the young ones and the adults alike. They did so as a whole, and they did it on purpose, because they believed in his personal character. They were dreadfully, tragically wrong in that belief.

We can't see into anyone's soul. No person should be a law unto themselves. Every institution that puts one person in authority over another requires a third to look over their shoulder. Every arrangement that makes one person subject to another requires an effective way for them to report abuse.

When you see one man sit astride an organization, and gather all those threads of information to himself, you're watching a problem be created. None of us is such a paragon that we should be trusted there. If you fail to speak up, because you believe that perhaps he is, you're not completely without responsibility yourself.
posted by CHoldredge at 11:34 AM on July 12, 2012 [9 favorites]


I don't think it's fair to compare this situation either to the Duke Lacrosse incident or to Islamic terrorism. The facts about Sandusky's continued incidents of 'improper contact with children' were well-documented in the very first days of reporting. The buried police report was well-documented. It is not reasonable to look at that 'first' incident and say, "Well, Sandusky just didn't know that it's not acceptable to naked hug a child in a shower who is not your relative! Innocent mistake! Let's give him a payoff and continuing access to young childre!"

Looking at that incident and inferring a cover-up is NOT rushing to judgement. It is drawing a reasonable inferrence.
posted by muddgirl at 11:36 AM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Two changes that I think should happen:

1: Revise mandatory reporting laws to require reporting directly to local or state agencies. It looks like ambiguity in the existing reporting law allowed for administrators to play hot-potato with incidents.

2: Campus police no longer have jurisdiction when it comes to major felonies committed by faculty or staff.

I don't buy the argument that it was premature to condemn Paterno following the grand jury indictment. That indictment included allegations that at least one assault happened in the football team's locker room and that Sandusky used VIP access to groom victims after allegations had been reported to the university. During this time, Sandusky was apparently acting as a volunteer trainer and conducting youth camps on Penn State facilities. Oversight over facilities, almuni relationships with the team, and people who train with the team falls, in part, on the coaches.

Evidence that Paterno and Penn State administration engaged in an active cover-up certainly came later. But the grand jury indictment made a strong case that they were, at a minimum, grossly negligent in multiple ways.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 11:40 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]




Here's what to do if you see a child being raped:

If you are physically able, put a stop to the immediate act
Call the police
Protect and comfort the child until the police arrive

It doesn't matter if the molester is your wife, husband, father, mother, sister, brother, son, daughter, best friend, boss, governor, senator, or any other person you love, respect or fear.

This is what I would do.

I wish someone done it for me when I was 8.
posted by double block and bleed at 11:43 AM on July 12, 2012 [57 favorites]


Wow.

Never before have I wanted to favorite so much of a long thread.

^^^What everyone above said.^^^
posted by IAmBroom at 11:50 AM on July 12, 2012


*A retirement agreement with Sandusky is reached in June 1999, including an unusual lump sum payment of $168,000, an agreement for the University to "work collaboratively" with Sandusky on Second Mile and other community activities, and free lifetime use of East Area Locker Room facilities.

The Frak?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:51 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


*A retirement agreement with Sandusky is reached in June 1999, including an unusual lump sum payment of $168,000, an agreement for the University to "work collaboratively" with Sandusky on Second Mile and other community activities, and free lifetime use of East Area Locker Room facilities.

The Frak?


Complete with a little plaque reading "Jerry Sandusky Personal Child Rape Dungeon".
posted by kafziel at 11:53 AM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


Diese Schandtaten: Eure Schuldt!
posted by Jeff Mangum's Penny-farthing at 11:54 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Even though I keep coming back to this thread to read, favoriting it so that I can get back to it quickly just seems off.
posted by COD at 11:58 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Even if we ignore the continued good-old-boy relationship between PSU Football and Second Mile that got Sandusky into living rooms and school gymnasiums, Paterno knew about the incident witnessed by McQueary. That incident wasn't reported to the proper authorities and the victim has not been identified. Even if we accept the view that Paterno followed the letter of the law, he failed in a moral duty toward Victim No. 2 through inaction. And that was clear from the grand jury indictment.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 12:06 PM on July 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


For those wondering about Jeff Mangum's Penny-farthing's reference:

"These Outrages: Your Fault!"

These were pamphlets distributed in the American Occupation Zone of Germany after World War II, accusing German citizens of sitting by idly and witnessing the atrocities.
posted by dhens at 12:08 PM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


What I can't get over is how methodical Sandusky was in his targets. It's very scary, because I suspect that these guys so determined to give Sandusky a break, all pretty well off with nice houses and cars and families, didn't care about the boys because they didnt think poor kids without intact families mattered. That they were just there to be taken advantage of.
posted by discopolo at 12:09 PM on July 12, 2012


sotonohito: "tonycpsu I haven't seen anyone suggesting killing Penn State University, have I missed something?

Killing it? Not in those words, but there are certainly comments above supporting state/federal penalties, lawsuits, and other actions against the institution and not the individuals.

I do have a problem with the entire culture of college sports that has evolved and makes mockery of the term "student athletes". They're professional athletes who pretend that they are students at a university.

This only rings true in the big-money sports (mainly football, basketball), and is not even universally true within those. A vast majority of student athletes across all sports are students who have athletic talent, and are able to use that talent to get a scholarship they might not otherwise qualify for. They won't have a career waiting for them as an athlete or coach, they're not doing it for the money, etc.

Look, I'm very much on board with minimizing the role of college athletics in school budgets, paying the student athletes a stipend instead of letting the NCAA cartel and the schools exploit them, etc. I was blind to a lot of these issues throughout most of my time at Penn State -- I had a general sense that some college programs were doing bad things, but not that the whole system was built on a falsehood of "amateur" athletes who are exploited for financial gain. You live, you learn. I don't think that athletics are critical to the mission of providing post-secondary education, but I also think there's a lot of good in amongst the bad, and it's not necessary to use a nuclear warhead when a scalpel or perhaps a claw hammer will do.


Finally, since Penn State has conclusively proven that it can't handle having an athletics program, what's wrong with canceling what is supposed to be a side affair (lots of universities don't have professional athletics teams) and letting the school (which is self evidently not competent to manage a pro team) get back to teaching? Which is, IIRC, supposed to be what universities are about.

What is wrong with a university just being a university instead of a sports team that happens to keep a few teachers around?"
posted by tonycpsu at 12:10 PM on July 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


sotonohito: Correct me if I'm wrong, but Penn State is a university, yes? Not a football corporation?

Umm, personally, yeah, I think you need correcting. Perhaps it shouldn't be, but Penn State is primarily a sports team with an associated university.
posted by tyllwin at 12:14 PM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Seconding tonycpsu--It would be quite interesting if Penn State were forced to disband the football team. Hmmmm...I wonder if tuition rates would come down?


Frankly, the talk about football bringing in revenue to support education is bullshit, AFAIC.
posted by BlueHorse at 12:15 PM on July 12, 2012


What I can't get over is how methodical Sandusky was in his targets.

This is how predators operate. Many of them have a very refined sense of social nuance that enables them to identify and "cultivate" kids who are situations that are amenable to the predator manipulating. Victims are frequently poor kids or kids from families where the parents are overwhelmed or mentally ill.
posted by OmieWise at 12:15 PM on July 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


BlueHorse From what I've read, the top 10 or 20 sports universities show a profit on the sports teams. Penn State was, IIRC, one of them.

For most universities sports are a money sink. But a few do make quite a bit of money out of them.
posted by sotonohito at 12:19 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can't shake the feeling that there's some freaky gendered crap happening here, where if the victims were all little girls, people would stop still trying to minimize what happened to them. But because they were little boys, and we have a lot of vague, contradictory beliefs about The Ways In Which Male Sexuality Is Different, it's somehow, you know... it's bad, but it's not as bad.

I have the opposite take. I have this feeling the only reason people care so much is because they were little boys. I wonder if they would have poured so much into investigating otherwise. There would have been more, "Girls are lying to make him look bad and extort money!" commentary.
posted by discopolo at 12:21 PM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


For most universities sports are a money sink. But a few do make quite a bit of money out of them.

Yes, but they don't put those profits into academics -- they typically get reinvested in athletic programs, players, new stadiums, etc.
posted by FelliniBlank at 12:22 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


BlueHorse: "Seconding tonycpsu--It would be quite interesting if Penn State were forced to disband the football team. Hmmmm...I wonder if tuition rates would come down?

Frankly, the talk about football bringing in revenue to support education is bullshit, AFAIC.
"

Er, sorry those were actually sotonohito's words that I meant to quote and respond to. Contra sotonohito, I do think education can coexist in harmony with athletics at U.S. universities, but I do think significant reforms are necessary. One big step would be giving more of the money that comes from the labor of student athletes directly to those athletes. I also think there's a case to be made for increased federal oversight of the NCAA. But I don't think getting rid of any one particular program or all college athletic competition is the solution.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:22 PM on July 12, 2012


//Hmmmm...I wonder if tuition rates would come down?//

Probably not, because at a lot of schools, football is not funded from the University general fund. It is often funded completely from sports booster donations, TV revenues, concessions, etc. At my alma mater (another Big 10 school) the athletic scholarships are separate, funded by the sports boosters. So the football scholarships are not depriving anybody of an academic scholarship. Sports is essentially a separate business, completely responsible for it's own profit or loss.

Also, the money brought in from football and basketball is what pays for the golf teams, the crew team, the baseball team, and all the other varsity teams that aren't self-sustaining.

College sports are not evil. It's poorly run at the top (NCAA), it's poorly run at many schools, but it does give a lot of kids an opportunity to go to college.
posted by COD at 12:24 PM on July 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


SHAME.
posted by wenestvedt at 12:29 PM on July 12, 2012


Someone linked to a graph in a previous thread - most Div I sports programs are NOT self-supporting and operate at a loss. However, they DO bring money into the university via extra appropriations from state budgets (if they are a public school) and extra donations to the university general fund (for a public or a private school).

I have no problem with college sports in general, but there is a big difference between how Div. I teams operate/are treated and how Div II and Div III teams operate/are treated.
posted by muddgirl at 12:30 PM on July 12, 2012


CHoldredge: "And yes, I do believe the signs of pathology were obvious enough that every member of those communities should have felt responsible for speaking out against them. No, not everyone in "Happy Valley" could have guessed that young people were being abused. But everyone could see that the football program had collected so much influence, so much power, so much "private law" that only the personal probity of the men at its helm could prevent wrongdoing. "

I think this is a pure form of historian's fallacy. I got to Penn State in 1994, when the biggest negative story about Paterno was the fact that his salary was secret, and then when they revealed it, it turned out to be lower than a lot of his peers. Even into the late 1990s and 2000s, when the Vicky Triponey saga transpired and it looked like Paterno was too involved in handling athlete discipline cases, I don't think it would have been reasonable to connect those dots to infer that there might be a child rape scandal underneath. There's such a thing as being too close to a situation to be an unbiased observer (guilty as charged!) but there's also such a thing as parachuting in as an outsider and trying to Monday morning quarterback a situation that is much more complex than you describe.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:32 PM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


The PSU BoG is currently on television engaged in full scale ass covering.
posted by Justinian at 12:34 PM on July 12, 2012


BitterOldPunk: "I'm not sure imposing the death sentence on the PSU football program will accomplish this."

Because the next Joe Paterno that finds out about the next Sandusky will know that a cover-up means death for his program.
posted by Bonzai at 12:35 PM on July 12, 2012 [13 favorites]


Ok, they've finally got around to "we take full responsibility" blah blah blah. It was only buried 10 minutes into the presser.
posted by Justinian at 12:35 PM on July 12, 2012


It was only buried 10 minutes into the presser.

What the hell did they talk about for the first nine?
posted by tzikeh at 12:37 PM on July 12, 2012


They talked about how they were not fulling informed of the situation by the former BoG and here are all the things we did to address the situation once the story broke.
posted by Justinian at 12:43 PM on July 12, 2012


"not fulling" = "not fully".

Basically "it wasn't us, it was these other guys who were the big scumbags."
posted by Justinian at 12:43 PM on July 12, 2012


For most universities sports are a money sink. But a few do make quite a bit of money out of them.

Yes, but they don't put those profits into academics -- they typically get reinvested in athletic programs, players, new stadiums, etc.


Per link from above:
On the academic side, Penn State athletics annually contributes about $225,000 to university programming just from its cut of the Big Ten Network profits; those profits, of course, are predominantly driven by football telecasts. Athletics spends nearly $3 million on scholarships for football players alone, and that’s just for students attending the university. Home football games generate an estimated economic impact of over $55 million each year for the local economy. Remove those games, and you also remove the single reason why many local businesses are able to thrive during the football season.
Is that "enough"? Reasonable people can disagree, but the fact remains that some money does make its way to the non-athletic parts of the university. Also, there really are prestige benefits that accrue directly and measurably.
posted by Etrigan at 12:44 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


muddgirl: "I don't think it's fair to compare this situation either to the Duke Lacrosse incident or to Islamic terrorism. The facts about Sandusky's continued incidents of 'improper contact with children' were well-documented in the very first days of reporting. The buried police report was well-documented. It is not reasonable to look at that 'first' incident and say, "Well, Sandusky just didn't know that it's not acceptable to naked hug a child in a shower who is not your relative! Innocent mistake! Let's give him a payoff and continuing access to young childre!""

When I say "rush to judgement", I'm talking about the pitchfork-wielding mob that wanted Paterno's head on a stick when, at the time, it was only clear that he should have known, not that he did know. A grand jury presentment does not "the facts" make. It was reasonable to infer from the presentment and the subsequent revelations within the first few days that many crimes were committed by Sandusky, and that higher-ups in the Penn State hierarchy either knowingly enabled him, or at least were derelict in their duties. I think the Duke comparison is very fair, precisely because there were initial details that everyone took as facts that turned out to not be facts at all.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:44 PM on July 12, 2012


Truly, Paterno never said anything outrageous or troubling before November 2011, nor did the rabid football culture contribute to students wanting to minimize other crimes...
posted by dhens at 12:44 PM on July 12, 2012


dhens: "Truly, Paterno never said anything outrageous or troubling before November 2011, nor did the rabid football culture contribute to students wanting to minimize other crimes..."

Shall we save some time and set fire to the straw man you're arguing with?
posted by tonycpsu at 12:49 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


So your point is that Paterno was at least as bad as people were saying, only they were saying it before that was absolutely proven? Even though it has now been proven? Is that really important?
posted by Justinian at 12:50 PM on July 12, 2012


because there were initial details that everyone took as facts that turned out to not be facts at all.

Like what? The initial 'facts' of the case that I heard have been pretty well corroborated. Paterno, the head of the athletic's department, and the President of the College were briefed at every stage of every investigation, just as was assumed. They did everything possible to minimize and bury any investigation, just as was assumed.

Maybe there were local rumors on the ground that didn't make the national press?
posted by muddgirl at 12:51 PM on July 12, 2012


Heck, the "facts" revealed in today's report are worse than I assumed, when it comes to Paterno. The report implies that Paterno had a direct hand in keeping one rape unreported, to Protective Services, to Second Way, and to the board.
posted by muddgirl at 12:53 PM on July 12, 2012


Justinian: "So your point is that Paterno was at least as bad as people were saying, only they were saying it before that was absolutely proven? Even though it has now been proven? Is that really important?"

My initial entry into this thread was in response to a question of whether there was a silent majority of Penn State partisans who, in addition to sharing the outrage we all share about the crimes, did not approve of the riots in support of Paterno. I stated that, while I did not approve of those riots, I did think there was a rush to judgement. I was then asked to explain how there was a "rush to judgement", so I did. It is by no means the most important point or the one I spent much time on in my post, but it's one I was asked to explain, so I did.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:53 PM on July 12, 2012


Sorry, Second Mile.
posted by muddgirl at 12:55 PM on July 12, 2012


muddgirl: "Heck, the "facts" revealed in today's report are worse than I assumed, when it comes to Paterno. The report implies that Paterno had a direct hand in keeping one rape unreported, to Protective Services, to Second Way, and to the board."

I think we're arguing past each other -- this is precisely my point, which is that it is fair to convict Paterno in the court of public opinion for a cover-up on facts that we now know, but it was not to do so on the facts we knew from just the grand jury presentment.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:56 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Gotcha tonycpsu, I've been there. Defending relatively minor points in fast moving threads because someone asked a question, I mean.
posted by Justinian at 12:56 PM on July 12, 2012


CBrachyrhynchos 2: Campus police no longer have jurisdiction when it comes to major felonies committed by faculty or staff.

The community surrounding Penn State is so insular and so wrapped up in the university that refering criminal issues to the local police could lead nowhere as well. Also, the local State College police aren't exactly top notch and are used to dealing with drunk college students, not major felonies.
posted by backwords at 12:56 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


"People rushed to judgement, and they happened, coincidentally, to be right."

People rushed to judgment at Duke University over Crystal Mangum and they happened to be wrong. Establishing facts is far more important than a scandal-fueled media circus.


Because it was a lacrosse team that was involved.

And that is the problem in a nutshell.
posted by ocschwar at 12:57 PM on July 12, 2012


Well, that press conference that just happened a couple of minutes ago (not the one this AM) was just about the biggest pile of we-are-more-interested-in-our-image-than-the-actual-problem horseshit that I have seen in a long time. Sure, they said all the right words, but the whole thing was layered in corporate and legal double speak, the level of sincerity of the Penn St board has to be called into question.

I am surprised they couldn’t work the word “paradigm” in there somewhere.

At the end, a reporter's question was whether the board should resign, to which they replied no. However, from they way they just presented themselves, I have to wonder if it would not be the best thing.....and I normally don't think that type of action really solves problems. In this case, it appears these people are just so full of themselves, I have to wonder if their continued presence will only hamper recovery of those poor kids.....and the university I guess....maybe.....ahh, fuck that university.

Those abused boys and their mental health are what matters.
posted by lampshade at 12:57 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


backwords: " The community surrounding Penn State is so insular and so wrapped up in the university that refering criminal issues to the local police could lead nowhere as well. Also, the local State College police aren't exactly top notch and are used to dealing with drunk college students, not major felonies."

+1
posted by tonycpsu at 12:57 PM on July 12, 2012


Also, was there really a "pitchfork weilding mob", or is that an extreme overstatement?(rhetorical question) The only mob I saw was in protest of Paterno's justified firing.

but it was not to do so on the facts we knew from just the grand jury presentment.

But the facts we had at that point don't substantially differ from the facts we have now. Paterno knew. He didn't tell anyone.
posted by muddgirl at 12:58 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]




lampshade: " Those abused boys and their mental health are what matters."

I don't see why what's good for past and future victims of abuse and what's good for Penn State University have to be at odds with each other. Getting rid of bad Board of Trustees members, administrators, etc. who allowed this to happen would be good for both, surely.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:02 PM on July 12, 2012


muddgirl: But the facts we had at that point don't substantially differ from the facts we have now. Paterno knew. He didn't tell anyone."

He told someones (including the "someone" who oversaw University Police), but those someones were involved in the cover-up. And it turns out he was, too, but again, the facts as detailed in the presentment did not make that clear.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:04 PM on July 12, 2012


Getting rid of bad Board of Trustees members, administrators, etc. who allowed this to happen would be good for both, surely.

It would. Unfortunately, they seem to be replacing the old BoT members with people like this guy, who was just elected.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 1:05 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Here in Cambridge and in the Harvard community, we have been having a long process of soul-searching about the racist and eugenicist statements and works made by the early and influential paleontologist Louis Agassiz. An elementary school formerly named after him was renamed after the pioneering black educator Maria Baldwin; now there's a conflict because the university doesn't want to release some horribly racist images of "races of mankind" that he had commissioned to a Swiss museum.

Even 140 years after his death, Agassiz still has a bunch of die-hard defenders who feel that his great contributions to the science of paleontology should outweigh all the shitty shit he misused his position to accomplish.

So the pro-Paterno sentiment doesn't surprise me. Saddens, sure.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:05 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Men do not go to Oxford to play cricket

Is this definitely correct? Admittedly they're both fictional sources and my memory may be incorrect but I think I've read both P.G. Wodehouse and Dorothy Sayers novels that contradict this.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 1:06 PM on July 12, 2012


dhens' article is a pretty excellent op-ed about the structural, societal aspects that lead to this sort of shit.

And that brings us to the patriarchal aspect of the Penn State scandal. I know it’s predictable and boring, but come on, people! There really is a message here about masculine privilege: the deification of a powerful old man who can do no wrong, an all-male hierarchy protecting itself (hello, pedophile priests), a culture of entitlement and a truly astonishing lack of concern about sexual violence. This last is old news, unfortunately: sexual assaults by athletes are regularly covered up or lightly punished by administrations, even in high school, and society really doesn’t care all that much. A federal appeals court declared that a Texas cheerleader could be kicked off the squad (and made to contribute to the school’s legal costs) for refusing to cheer her rapist when he took the field—and he’d pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault too, so why was he even still playing?

Indeed.
posted by absalom at 1:08 PM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Don't want to misrepresent the link - that's not her thesis, just my favorite part of the article.
posted by absalom at 1:09 PM on July 12, 2012


Getting rid of bad Board of Trustees members, administrators, etc. who allowed this to happen would be good for both, surely.


Ahh...maybe I did not make that clear. Yes, that absolutely would be the best thing. Not trying to sound glib here, but that entire institution - or a least the parts that were involved with the scandal - needs a major reset. Penn State just needs to put aside the legacy and legend of the program they seem so intent on preserving at least some of, and simply clean house.

While Sandusky may have been the most heinous part of the tragedy, there is also clearly a culture of entitlement towards what a person is accountable for when they do something wrong. I am sure there is still quite a bit of dirty laundry laying around the locker room. Maybe not as bad as this particular situation, but present nonetheless.
posted by lampshade at 1:27 PM on July 12, 2012


I don't really think anyone is surprised here. I feel kind of bad for the grad student though, he did report it to what he considered the "authorities" and they basically did nothing. He wasn't involved in the discussion so as far as he knew there was basically nothing more that could be done. How would you expect to think that going to the police can help when you've already talked to the person in charge of the police
I don't think deterrence through harsh punishment is ever effective. Do you think there's some coach who's watching the Penn State thing and thinking, "Well, if all that's going to happen if it comes out is that half the coaching staff and administration (including me) will be arrested and the program will get put through a years-long brutally embarrassing scandal in which I'll end up best known as a craven, pathetic enabler and unemployable hypocrite, why not cover up a molestation scandal?"

I also don't think that threatening severe punishment is likely to frighten wrongdoers into repenting as much as it's likely to frighten them into doubling-down on their attempts to cover up their sins and the sins of their subordinates.
Yeah, the next person in Mike McQuery's position isn't going to think "Shit, I better report this, and if that doesn't work I'll need to report it again and again until someone does something". They're going to think "I should probably just not tell anyone what I saw, if I value my future career". This guy's life is basically over because he reported what he saw to authorities that were conspiring to keep it covered up (which he was unaware of)
My solution: make NCAA student athletics programs 100% student run and operated. Student coaches, student assistants, student administrators. No full-time salaried employees at all... in other words no Joe Paternos to worship and revere. The budgets would automatically fall and them with them the cover-ups, scandals, and greed. Just pure amateur athletics.
The budgets come from ticket sales and donations. I don't see why making the whole thing student run would make people stop going to the games or donating. All you'd be doing is putting teenagers (and people in their early 20s) with little personal investment in charge of million dollar budgets. That sounds like a recipe for disaster to me. "Student Run" and "Professional" are hardly synonymous. There are all kinds of goofball scandals involving student government, but they usually involve pretty small stakes.
In my mind it's a collective crime, so I have no problem with collective punishment. It wasn't just the few who actually committed crimes who are at fault, it was the many who produced a culture that allowed and encouraged those crimes.

That's ridiculous. In fact, it would mostly be collective punishment for people who weren't even around when these things were happening. I'm hardly a fan of the whole "OMG Football W000" culture, but I seriously doubt anyone there had the idea that cover ups of child molestation was going to be the result.

That doesn't mean I don't think the football program shouldn't be shut down for a period of time, the culture probably should change. But the idea that "collective punishment" is a good idea because "the culture" is bad and therefore everyone associated with it should be punished is stupid and would be disturbing in most contexts. So it should be disturbing in this context as well.

People who think the entire university should be shut down are completely bonkers. That would basically destroy the economy of the area. Putting tens of thousands of people out of work, destroy their home values, put them out of work when other universities aren't hiring. It's an incredible amount of collateral damage over the actions of a handful of people.
sotonohito: "tonycpsu I haven't seen anyone suggesting killing Penn State University, have I missed something?
Try reading the thread. At least two comments have called for shutting down the entire university.
---
And I honestly wonder if the lack of concern was because they were boys? It just feels that this was ignored and more shameful to the school's eyes because of the victims' gender. -- stormpooper
---
This all makes me feel so bummed and terrified. I can't shake the feeling that there's some freaky gendered crap happening here, where if the victims were all little girls, people would stop still trying to minimize what happened to them. But because they were little boys, and we have a lot of vague, contradictory beliefs about The Ways In Which Male Sexuality Is Different, it's somehow, you know... it's bad, but it's not as bad.-- thehmsbeagle
I seriously doubt it. I think male on male sexual abuse tends to squick people (or at least men) out most of all, because of the fear that it "turns kids gay". I think it has more to do with the gender of the abuser then the gender of the victim.

In fact I wonder if how much of it was a generational thing, though. From what I understand child sexual abuse wasn't taken as seriously decades ago as it is now (Just look at the whole Roman Polanski thing, for example. That obviously wouldn't happen today)
If I rob a bank and die, I'm pretty sure that the money I stole isn't going to be distributed as part of my inheritance.

I imagine that similar statutes are in effect here... otherwise, you'd probably have a lot more terminally-ill people acting out the plot of Breaking Bad to ensure their family's financial security with minimal risk to themselves...
Just ask the people who got scammed by Enron. That's exactly what happened. Ken Lay died, all the current lawsuits ended. I'm not sure what happens in the bank robbery situation, obviously if you get shot on the way out of the bank, the money would go back to the bank. If you got away with it, had the money all squared away in bank accounts under your name, if you were caught and put on trial and died half way through (suicide, whatever), I'm pretty sure the money would still be distributed to your heirs.
Penn State, Bain Capital, and American Lying Inc.
Comparing Mitt Romney to a guy covering up child abuse? Classy.
posted by delmoi at 1:29 PM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Michael Weinreb, a Penn State grad (and sort of an acquaintance of mine, if it's appropriate to disclose those kinds of things here) has written some very good stuff on this for Grantland. He's a sportswriter who not only went to Penn State, but grew up in State College, so his perspective on this is insightful. Here's what he wrote today.
posted by MoonOrb at 1:31 PM on July 12, 2012 [8 favorites]


I also don't think that threatening severe punishment is likely to frighten wrongdoers into repenting as much as it's likely to frighten them into doubling-down on their attempts to cover up their sins and the sins of their subordinates.

Do we need to publicize all the times when people report this shit and nothing happens to them as a result? It's amazing how even when we prosecute the cover-up, not the crime, the lesson turns into “you'd better cover up your cover-up.”
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:35 PM on July 12, 2012


NCAA issues statement on Penn State case after Freeh Report
The NCAA reiterated Thursday that it will wait to make any decisions on penalties for Penn State after a report criticized school officials for failing to act appropriately to sex abuse allegations against Jerry Sandusky.

... NCAA vice president for communications Bob Williams released a statement minutes after the report led by former FBI director Louis Freeh was made public.

"Like everyone else, we are reviewing the final report for the first time today. As President Emmert wrote in his November 17th letter to Penn State President Rodney Erickson and reiterated this week, the university has four key questions, concerning compliance with institutional control and ethics policies, to which it now needs to respond. Penn State's response to the letter will inform our next steps, including whether or not to take further action. We expect Penn State's continued cooperation in our examination of these issues."

Whether Penn State's failure to act after allegations were made against Sandusky, who was a football assistant under Paterno from 1969 to 1999, will cause sanctions is unknown.

The main issue will be whether the concealing of the allegations will lead to a finding of lack of institutional control. That type of violation typically will draw the ire of the NCAA and result in serious penalties.

Also critical will be Penn State's cooperation in the case. The NCAA looks favorably at schools that work with the organization to uncover all the facts in an investigation.
posted by ericb at 1:35 PM on July 12, 2012




MoonOrb: "Michael Weinreb...Here's what he wrote today."

There's your "silent majority" opinion right there. I've agreed with most of what Weinreb has written throughout this, and this is no exception.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:40 PM on July 12, 2012


Michael Weinreb, a Penn State grad ..........Here's what he wrote today.

That's a great article. Thanks for linking.
posted by lampshade at 1:45 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wonder how long it will take for us to hear Penn State and not immediately think "child rape." Probably a while. Probably less time if they cut off the rotten appendage of their college football program.
posted by Jeff Mangum's Penny-farthing at 1:50 PM on July 12, 2012


And Sandusky evidently abused at least one of his grandkids ...

Not one of his grandkids, but a child he fostered and later adopted.

Where did they meet? At Jerry Sandusky's [pedophiliac grooming] charity program, Second Mile.

Jerry Sandusky's Adopted Son, Matt, Talks Of Sex Abuse On Tape.
"... [L]ast week brought a bombshell that shook the proceedings: Matt Sandusky, 33, was now willing to testify that the man he first met through the Second Mile charity repeatedly molested him while he was a child [starting at age 8], according to Matt Sandusky's lawyers. The revelation kept Jerry Sandusky from taking the stand in his own defense." *
posted by ericb at 1:50 PM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


From that Weinreb article, here is the tl;dr salient point:

"They made this a Penn State scandal."

That is the important thing to understand about the findings today. Sandusky was a monster, but this could have and should have ended with that. A monster being charged with a crime. But the coverup was a wholly separate crime, and a heinous one. When that coverup happened, that is the issue of institutional failure that I hope results in scorched earth where the PSU football program once was.
posted by mcstayinskool at 1:50 PM on July 12, 2012 [9 favorites]


Joe Paterno's Defenders a piece written psuedonymously in deadspin.
posted by backwords at 1:50 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


At long last there really is no remaining doubt or question that there was a pervasive, institution-wide, top to bottom perversion of the most basic, bright-line standards of human decency - not to mention a willingness to turn a blind eye to the law. The cause of that corruption was the football program.

Remember, you had janitors and assistants who witnessed children being raped but failed to go directly to the police because they were afraid they would lose their jobs and/or hurt their careers for 'damaging' the reputation of the football program. (Or worse, one of the assistants may have leveraged his knowledge to advance his career) Even the campus police are implicated in the cover-up, via Schulz.

If so many people are more worried about the football program's reputation, losing their jobs, or being ostracized from a football community than stopping child rape, you end the football program that's the cause of the problem.

Playing musical chairs with the leadership or tweaking institutional protocols doesn't address yet alone fix the the broken culture that contributed to this human disaster.

The best way to prevent a repeat of this kind of behavior would be to flip that unconscionably perverse rationale (fear of losing a job, being ostracized) on it's head and make people more afraid of the consequences of not stopping something like this.

To do this the NCAA needs to send a crystal clear, unqualified, and brutal punishment. The next time someone witnesses an eight year old child being sodomized by football staff, they'll report it... if not because it's the moral thing to do, at least to save their job and save their institution from the death penalty.

Those arguing that 'the death penalty' would harm innocent student-athletes, not to worry. All Penn State athletes from all programs should be allowed to transfer directly, and schools that take them should be allowed to exceed normal scholarship limits - problem solved.

It absolutely, positively has to be the death penalty for the football program or the NCAA will de-legitimize itself permanently by removing what little doubt remains that its only concern is money.
posted by Davenhill at 2:08 PM on July 12, 2012 [19 favorites]


Men do not go to Oxford to play cricket

Is this definitely correct? Admittedly they're both fictional sources and my memory may be incorrect but I think I've read both P.G. Wodehouse and Dorothy Sayers novels that contradict this.


Rowing is the only sport where British universities have representative teams competing against each other.
posted by ocschwar at 2:08 PM on July 12, 2012


Jeff Mangum's Penny-farthing: "Probably less time if they cut off the rotten appendage of their college football program."

I'm sorry, but this seems like concern trolling. Short of a name change a-la ValuJet/AirTran or Blackwater/Xe, that association will last for all of our lifetimes, even if they hold nothing more athletic than a chess competition in Beaver Stadium. Even if the potential cancer cure Weinreb mentions in his story pans out, I think it'll be Penn State: The University That Protected a Pedophile (and also The People Who Developed A Cure For Cancer.)

Believe me, if I thought killing football would have the effect you claim it would, I'd be driving to University Park right now with a crowbar in the back seat, ready to pull up the bleachers one by one.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:12 PM on July 12, 2012


I have a friend who took a job in the development office at the PSU Library a couple of months before the Sandusky scandal broke last year. Imagine meeting with prospective donors through all that.

So today I thought of that friend and since it had been a while, I decided to take a moment to connect via LinkedIn.

There I discovered that a couple of months ago my friend had moved on to another university development office job.

At the University of Virginia.
posted by notyou at 2:18 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Rowing is the only sport where British universities have representative teams competing against each other.

This is not true. For example, Cambridge has dozens of sports clubs registered with the Sports Syndicate, including the Boat Club.
posted by grouse at 2:28 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Penn State football coach Joe Paterno and other university leaders 'repeatedly concealed critical facts' relating to assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky’s child sex abuse from authorities"

"Success without honor is an unseasoned dish; it will satisfy your hunger, but it won't taste good." - Joe Paterno
posted by markkraft at 2:34 PM on July 12, 2012


Rowing is the only sport where British universities have representative teams competing against each other.

It's the best known, but UK universities certainly have other intercollegiate sporting events - most schools have a rugby team for example, a cricket team and so on. However, these are strictly recreational - nobody goes to college to become a champion rower or anything else, there are no sports scholarships (though perhaps there are scholarships to study sports medicine or suchlike), and the budget for such activities is minuscule - limited to maintaining grounds and buildings on campus, and (I think) mostly funded by alumni. As far as I know such clubs are entirely student-run.
posted by anigbrowl at 2:34 PM on July 12, 2012


Shutting down the baths early in the AIDS epidemic was unpopular, too. What's your point?

Because, and I quote, "The evidence that AIDS spreads more rapidly in bathhouses than in other environments is inconclusive"? [PDF warning on that]

Your analogy sucks. They should still shut down the football program, though.
posted by liketitanic at 2:36 PM on July 12, 2012


tonycpsu...I don't think it would have been reasonable to connect those dots to infer that there might be a child rape scandal underneath.

In fact I agree with you, strongly. But what they could have known is that a situation existed where the normal ways of ensuring that people behave decently were being circumvented, and replaced with "take them to the coach."

That would be obviously problematic if 'the coach' were an apparent sleazebag. JoePa was widely believed to be a paragon, and so the expectation truly was was that "he'll sort them out." But systems of justice, whether provided by the university or the government, exist so that neither victim not accused should need to rely on rectitude of just one person.

The fact that this was happening was a problem in and of itself, even disregarding what eventually turned out to have concealed by it. It's a problem that was obviously widely known.* It's a problem that the university had a responsibility to fix, and didn't. Based on that, if the state really does decide to slash funding for the campus or the university as a whole, I won't feel a grave injustice has been done.


* I should point out that my opinion on how obvious this all was is not completely based on public reports. In the years leading up to this two different alums have spoken to me, with approval, of cops and professors dragging miscreants directly back to the football program, rather than to the authorities, in the expectation that "JoePa will sort them out." To a small extent I share some responsibility, for not leaping to my feet and asking "What in hell are you thinking? Do you really know this man so well that you would trust him, unsupervised, with the enforcement of justice over a group of hundreds?" I really think they did believe they knew him well enough to trust him that far.

They were wrong.
posted by CHoldredge at 2:36 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


backwords: The community surrounding Penn State is so insular and so wrapped up in the university that refering criminal issues to the local police could lead nowhere as well. Also, the local State College police aren't exactly top notch and are used to dealing with drunk college students, not major felonies.

Well, a report to local police did eventually lead to the grand jury indictment. I'm not saying that local police are perfect, but there's a clear conflict of interest with Victim #6 when the police investigator and Sandusky were ultimately reporting to the same administration.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 2:38 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]




Analysis: Penn State's Paterno could have been indicted had he lived.

Hell, bring on the RICO charges. It couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of guys.
posted by FelliniBlank at 2:50 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


backwords: CBrachyrhynchos 2: Campus police no longer have jurisdiction when it comes to major felonies committed by faculty or staff.

The community surrounding Penn State is so insular and so wrapped up in the university that refering criminal issues to the local police could lead nowhere as well. Also, the local State College police aren't exactly top notch and are used to dealing with drunk college students, not major felonies.
So, what's your point? That they shouldn't have bothered to report it? You have no way of knowing what would have happened, regardless of your opinion of the local cops - even if you're right about their incompetence and insularity.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:58 PM on July 12, 2012


That wasn't my point. My point was that there was a chance, even if they had gone to the authorities that the accusations may not have gone any further than they did anyway (because of so many connections to the university and football). Some one, any one, in that community that had any knowledge of Sandusky molesting boys had the responsibility to inform the police.
posted by backwords at 3:04 PM on July 12, 2012


delmoi: This guy's life is basically over because he reported what he saw to authorities that were conspiring to keep it covered up (which he was unaware of)
Incorrect. 100% wrong. This guy's career is basically over because he only reported it to someone outside of law enforcement, and he did nothing - nothing - to follow up on it, which was his moral responsibility as a human.

Others may (should) serve time, so that their lives are basically over, but McQueary is unlikely to do serious time.
posted by IAmBroom at 3:05 PM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


I graduated HS in central PA and attended Penn State. I attended a number of Penn State football games in HS and college.

There were multiple cases of misbehavior by football team members at Penn State that went unpunished throughout the late nineties and the aughts. In addition to the sexual assault victim that was pressured not to talk to police linked above, ESPN published an article in 2008 entitled Has Penn State's on-field progress led to off-field problems? that shows an out of control football culture. Penn State's standards and conduct officer Vicky Triponey resigned in 2007 confirmed in an LA times article, "that she sent a 2005 email to then-president Graham Spanier and others in which she expressed her concerns about how Penn State handled discipline cases involving football players." As shown in the Altoona Mirror also in 2008, "the truth is there has been an obvious lack of institutional control regarding the Penn State football program."

The program and the culture need to be changed. Shutting down the football program is an appropriate punishment. Had Penn State willingly stopped playing the rest of last season that would have indicated that they understood. They don't understand. Penn State needs to not play football in 2012.
posted by GregorWill at 3:06 PM on July 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


I am very clear on what American football represents now.
posted by telstar at 3:14 PM on July 12, 2012


Wodehouse's Mike wanted to play cricket for Oxford because he wanted (like one of his brothers, I think Joe) to be chosen to play for England.

I am vaguely embarrassed that I know this.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:19 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]




backwords: The community surrounding Penn State is so insular and so wrapped up in the university that refering criminal issues to the local police could lead nowhere as well. Also, the local State College police aren't exactly top notch and are used to dealing with drunk college students, not major felonies.
Part of the problem is that local police are campus police. I guess it depends on the state, but in most states campus police are real police officers with regular police powers. But they're run by the university, so it's an obvious conflict of interest. The same problem could crop up if a politician or someone was molesting children, if you have machine style politics in a town. In a functioning democracy that information would get leaked to the press/opposition, whereas with a university it's not democratic.
Incorrect. 100% wrong. This guy's career is basically over because he only reported it to someone outside of law enforcement, and he did nothing - nothing - to follow up on it, which was his moral responsibility as a human.
Right, his career is over because he reported it. Had he not reported it, nothing would have happened to him. So punishing him for reporting it is a bad idea. (And how is that "100% wrong"? What does that even mean? Most people would consider "their life" over if they were no longer employable in the job that they had spent their life training for.)

This guy reported it to the authorities, who were conspiring to keep it secret. You're essentially arguing that not only do you have a duty to report, but also once you report you're morally responsible for what the authorities do with the information, and you'll be vilified if they don't respond effectively. So essentially you're making the act of reporting child sex abuse an even bigger risk, one that a lot more people might just chose not to take.

It seems completely counterproductive. We should be trying to make it easier and safer to report child abuse, not increasing the potential risks.
posted by delmoi at 3:48 PM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Even if Paterno had turned out to be squeaky clean, I cannot believe it is in the interests of any institution to have so much power vested in the hands of one person. Universities are not meant to be cults, even when the cult leader is benign.

I am struggling with trying to understand why Penn State isn't offering to voluntarily mothball its football program, so can they work out how they ended up in a place where raping children became something you just turned away from noticing in the interests of winning games. Or not shaming the program. Or whatever was going through TPTB's lizard brains. Oh right, money. Except this is going to cost the university a fortune. As it should. Money's a crap substitute for adults behaving as they are supposed to and protecting children, but it's about all they can offer.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 3:49 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am struggling with trying to understand why Penn State isn't offering to voluntarily mothball its football program

I can answer that in one character - $
posted by COD at 3:53 PM on July 12, 2012


*not behaving as they are supposed*
posted by lesbiassparrow at 3:53 PM on July 12, 2012


The primary moral obligation for reporting child abuse is the possibility that a child is at risk. Sometimes prosecution of the abuser is warranted, sometimes its not, but someone needs to step in as an advocate for the victim and get them out of a bad situation.

The fact that no one gave enough of a shit about Victims #2 and #8 to even learn their names in spite of witnesses catching Sandusky in the act strikes me as unconscionable, even if that failure to report is due to negligence rather than malice.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 3:55 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I can answer that in one character - $

You could be right, but I wonder. I mean, maybe someone will come in and fling money at them, but even if they sell out all of their games they're going to need extra revenue from licensing and donations. And I just can't see people being willing to hand over huge amounts money if they think they'll be tainted by the donation. It's not even a moral thing: would you want your name on a building there right at the moment? On a pragmatic level, pausing the program might actually get them out of the hole they've dug quicker.

It's like the University of Virginia issue recently: after a while when the scandal gets too big, donors start baulking and the state starts talking about cutting more, and you have to make some enormous gesture to show you've got the message.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 3:58 PM on July 12, 2012


All this plus the strange disappearance in 2005--complete with laptop found in river, hard drive removed--of Centre County DA Ray Gricar, who declined to press charges against Sandusky in 1998, makes me wonder: when's Oliver Stone making Penn State?
posted by shivohum at 3:59 PM on July 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


I think there are two big reasons that the Penn State football program needs to be heavily penalized or even disbanded, regardless of whether individual perpetrators are punished:

1. People are sometimes willing to take risks or sacrifice to advance organizations. I think it's important to remember that people aren't self-interest robots, but are often willing to sacrifice to advance causes they believe in. Even things like athletic teams - hell, look at the expression, 'take one for the team'. I think a lot of these guys really do care about their programs beyond their pocketbook or personal fame, and would be willing to risk jail to help their teams. Instituting an organization penalty changes the personal dynamic from 'Hey, I'll be the selfless guy who risks jail to help protect the team's name and funding' to 'If I do this I'll be risking the team's very existence instead of just withstanding a scandal that will eventually get better.' If you penalize one guy for something that benefits the team, it's possible for that one guy to reframe it in their mind as a personal sacrifice, and teamwork is all about personal sacrifice.

2. Organizations are much more willing to undergo risks to the individual members than to the organization itself. If there is an opportunity for an individual to risk their own welfare to prevent harm to the organization, there's a real incentive for the organization to tacitly suggest to that individual that they had better do it. This even applies to the leaders of the organization; groups have a collective culture and dynamic, and leaders are usually accountable to others. I suspect all of the parties involved felt a lot of pressure to undertake this cover-up. On the other hand, if the risk had applied to the organization and not to the individuals, I believe this would have changed the dynamic; the pressure would have been to avoid the potential destruction of the team a cover-up might have entailed and simply go with the small, guaranteed negative publicity involved in reporting Sandusky immediately. This might have changed their decision.

So, while I'm not sure what it should entail, the organization definitely must be punished as an organization, instead of simply going after the individuals who were directly responsible. Otherwise, team cultures and practices will continue to favor individuals taking risks to cover crimes up, instead of the team taking a hit by making them public immediately.
posted by Mitrovarr at 4:52 PM on July 12, 2012


delmoi: This guy reported it to the authorities, who were conspiring to keep it secret. You're essentially arguing that not only do you have a duty to report, but also once you report you're morally responsible for what the authorities do with the information, and you'll be vilified if they don't respond effectively.

McQueary's no dummy. He knows that athletic programs have a bad habit of covering up scandals. So he reports the incident to his supervisor anyway, and stays silent about the problem while Sandusky is given a slap on the wrist. He stays silent while Sandusky continues to train with McQueary's team, brings kids to bowl games that McQueary coaches, and runs sports events affiliated with Penn State athletics. If he didn't know the fix was in, he's an idiot.

If he had blown the whistle, if he had lawyered up and reported the incident to authorities with an interest in protecting children and the legal powers to do so, he'd be morally in the clear. And I'll argue that PA's bad reporting law needs to be changed to make this difference clear.

But McQueary made a terrible decision in trusting supervisors on a matter where they had both a conflict of interest and no legal authority.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 4:56 PM on July 12, 2012


I am struggling with trying to understand why Penn State isn't offering to voluntarily mothball its football program

Because they are trying to fix the problem by trying to get around the problem. In other words, what really needs to happen is a house cleaning of the program and leadership and a real rebuild of not only the program, but the culture within that university. They want it both ways and can't face the reality of just how deep the problem is. They are like like a drowning person drowning, flailing and gasping for air, trying to save their precious football program with their "concerned looks" and boardroom style filler statements of regret.

Here is the press conference of PSU’s response (MSNBC Vid) to the Freeh report. It is basically 12 minutes of blathering on in largely meaningless revelations, platitudes and feigned concern. I can’t remember the last time I saw such a disingenuous display of concern in the wake of such a horrible event. It’s like they took 5 lines of real thought and ran it through one of those web based corporate double speak generators.

They say they get it, but I don’t believe them at all. I think they are spinning this for all its worth and hope the furor dies down and they can control their little game. I am sure the program will change, but I don't think they will really clean out the trash because part of the trash that needs to get dumped was standing on that stage giving the press conference.
posted by lampshade at 5:00 PM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


I am struggling with trying to understand why Penn State isn't offering to voluntarily mothball its football program

Seriously? I can think of several hundred million reasons without even trying.
posted by T.D. Strange at 5:14 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I understand the thinking that the current football program has all new staff and students, so why not move forward. Here's why not:
"A culture of reverence for the football program that is ingrained at all levels of the campus community."
MSNBC
An institution of Higher Education should have a culture of reverence for learning, knowledge, human development, truth, and more. Penn is a Football Team that happens to have a University (why, yes, I *am* exaggerating)

Their league (Big Ten Leaders?) should bar them from competition for 7 years. Every web page, every piece of mail, every University brochure should be bordered in black, and have an apology on it. Don't let them make a show of reforming. They must genuinely change. The behavior of the leadership of this public institution is vile, immoral, and actually evil.

This is how evil works in the world. People who seem nice, educated, upstanding and decent make expedient choices to maintain the status quo, to keep their position and status. Every one of the people who knew had the choice to stop a rapist from raping children. From having forced anal sex with children. Imagine the pain of the child. To have kept silent knowing that, in the name of football. Every one of them had the opportunity to be a genuine hero, to step up and tell the truth.

I'm so mad I'm practically frothing at the mouth. If I were a Pennsylvania taxpayer, I'd want to be damn certain that not one of these soulless fucks gets a dime of severance pay, benefits, etc. Don't their contracts have a moral turpitude clause? Humans just suck sometimes.
posted by theora55 at 5:19 PM on July 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


It's not just football, not just Penn State...I heard 'athletics reveals character' in an earlier comment. Too true. The sick is happening all.the.time. (pretty NSFW) Bad Jocks
posted by j_curiouser at 5:28 PM on July 12, 2012


I guess Louis Freeh is an expert in knowing what people should have considering he could have stopped 9/11 but didn't.
posted by Renoroc at 5:29 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sorry for some lack of preview here, if I'm repeating some things others have already said, but instituting the "death penalty" may or may not be appropriate, if only because the "death penalty" was specifically tailored to SMU's offenses. For anyone interested, I recommend looking up the excellent 30-For-30 documentary "Pony Exce$$" Basically, every team in the SWC was doing the same insane amount of bribing and recruiting violations and everything else, and SMU got hit because it was an upstart and Dallas was seen as "flashy" and "flagrant" compared to, say, Lubbock. It remains a controversial decision, but it at least related directly to the program's football-related offenses.

This needs a different kind of solution, and I don't know what would be necessary to change the culture which fostered this. Perhaps and probably something similar. If that were the case, I'd recommend:

1. The Football program is shut down indefinitely, with review for reinstatement available in 5 years.
2. All student athletes (and not just in the football program) may choose to rtansfer with scholarship opportunities available.
3. Penn State is held responsible for paying out the scholarships of any student athlete who remains at the school, regardless of the existence of the program.
4. Some percentage of the annual budget that was previously earmarked for the football program instead goes to the victims and to 501(c)(3) organizations dealing with child sexual abuse.
5. The Penn State/Nittany Lions logo being used on sold apparel is tightly restricted.

I'm sure I'll think of other things, but the culture that allowed for this needs to be killed publicly. And needs to send a message in its death to all of the similar programs which would have also allowed such things if they haven't been doing so already.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:30 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


if he had lawyered up and reported the incident to authorities with an interest in protecting children and the legal powers to do so, he'd be morally in the clear

But still unemployed (because Penn State would suddenly find his position unnecessary) and unemployable (for betraying the team). And "lawyering up" against a big organization flush with cash and its own squad of lawyers on call ain't cheap.

It's not a simple, easy decision, no matter what you might think.
posted by SPrintF at 5:35 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


1. The Football program is shut down indefinitely, with review for reinstatement available in 5 years.

Five years seems reasonable. It needs to be long enough that a whole undergraduate class starts as freshmen and graduate without ever knowing Penn State football. That should be four but adding another year for buffer is good.
posted by octothorpe at 5:37 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I work here. I can't adequately explain how that feels right now, but the term crisis in faith comes to mind.

And I don't think that's limited to me. For those who paint with a broad brush, this community is indeed reeling. No one here thinks this is about football. No one wants to make excuses. We are not blind. We're all somewhat afraid of what this means. As if God is dead. I and I think many here are having a crisis in faith.

Four men betrayed us. Four men may have destroyed us. So far the University has spent about $20 million, on legal expenses, PR, firing most of the football staff, including paying contractual penalties for dissolving a good portion of the athletics department. and we haven't even begun the civil cases. Innocent, good people are likely to lose their jobs because of this crisis in faith.

To be frank, it appears that all the right things are happening. But why should any of us here trust what we're seeing?

I read these calls for destruction and elimination and I grow concerned. Reset. I wish there were such a button. I don't care what happens to any of the sports, but before this is over, the damage is likely to be catastrophic. Smart people will leave, good work will end.

I don't know what to say but that I'm sorry. I'm technically an administrator here, but I don't know when or how I might have done anything. I've never been to a football game. I don't claim to understand that culture and I don't understand the source of its power. But I am a witness to its destruction. And I can report that it's massive.

I don't really know what to say about all of this other than my heart, like many others this evening, is broken. I loved what we were and what we did. And in my case, and most of my colleagues here, that had nothing at all to do with football.

I think the people here will finally do the right thing. They will carve out the rot, and take a good bit of the rest of us with it. What will be left may only be a shadow of what we were, but perhaps that is for the best. If what we were was so important that we were willing to sacrifice children, we were on the wrong path.

Here's hoping what we become is someday worth the pride we once had.
posted by Toekneesan at 5:39 PM on July 12, 2012 [31 favorites]


4. Some percentage of the annual budget that was previously earmarked for the football program instead goes to the victims and to 501(c)(3) organizations dealing with child sexual abuse.

The football program at Penn State pays entirely for itself, plus most (if not all) of the rest of the athletic department. No money is "earmarked" for football save what the team makes, so this would wind up being zero if they also stop playing football.
posted by Etrigan at 5:46 PM on July 12, 2012


I feel like it should be said out loud that part of what made people feel comfortable not reporting Sandusky to the authorities is that they don't actually believe in the value and humanity of those kids. Because those kids aren't like they're own kids. Those kids were poor.

It's also why the distress his adopted son expressed was interpreted as a kid "being difficult" and having "behavior problems" and "making bad choices"

It's sick. And that kind of dismissal of children, especially poor children, happens every day.
posted by vitabellosi at 6:19 PM on July 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


Indeed. It should also be remembered that the State College police were also complicit in ignoring this. Just in case people were wishing that they had been informed. They were.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:43 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


This guy reported it to the authorities, who were conspiring to keep it secret. You're essentially arguing that not only do you have a duty to report, but also once you report you're morally responsible for what the authorities do with the information, and you'll be vilified if they don't respond effectively. So essentially you're making the act of reporting child sex abuse an even bigger risk, one that a lot more people might just chose not to take.
I can't decide if this is disingenuous or just - well, let's go with disingenuous. If you report what you believe to be a major crime on Friday, and on Monday morning the perp is still their grinning over his coffee, you know something is amiss. And if he hangs around campus for the next eight years, it's pretty clear no real action was taken based on your allegation.

Yes, if you witness something like this, your obligation extends beyond telling the next flunky up the line.
posted by newdaddy at 7:00 PM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


All this plus the strange disappearance in 2005--complete with laptop found in river, hard drive removed--of Centre County DA Ray Gricar, who declined to press charges against Sandusky in 1998, makes me wonder: when's Oliver Stone making Penn State?

Interesting.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:18 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I really wonder how PSU football can continue even if it continues. I mean, say you're a sophomore there and you're on scholarship and this has gone down, and next year you have to go out on a football field in front of God and everybody and play the game for good ole PSU. How does that work in your head? Do you take that extra hit even though you're hurting for a school that did this to you?

College football requires a lot of kids who aren't ever going into the NFL to give it their all to be championship class. At PSU if you know you're third tier and never going to the NFL do you risk an ACL injury now? And if you're one of their NFL prospects what kind of backup do you get from the disillusioned backup crew?
posted by localroger at 7:19 PM on July 12, 2012


There, rather than their. Sorry, no preview, ugh.
posted by newdaddy at 7:20 PM on July 12, 2012


The revelation kept Jerry Sandusky from taking the stand in his own defense."

On a completely different point, Sandusky had about the worst legal counsel imaginable. The lawyer invited his client to basically confess to Bob Costas on television (which even Costas warned him was an awful idea) and then it was only his adopted son getting into it which made the laywer think that he shouldn't take the stand in his own defense?

(Also the lawyer had some sex offense issues of his own.)

For those who don't know, the default is to not have a defendant take the stand in a criminal case, except in case of extraordinary circumstances where it might do some good. Those are very rare. Sandusky had exactly the counsel he deserved, apparently.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:22 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


when's Oliver Stone making Penn State?

--We've got to go to the authorities. It's not right.

--Look, have another drink. Look. You realize we gave him a pass in 98, right? We let this get out its vultures all over the place.

--He's raping kids.

--Rape might be a little strong of a word. Look, whatever it is, and I'm not saying it's right, we can't let it get out of the system. We got to stand by our own.

--It's really bad illegal. We could be liable.

--And we would be liable if anyone ever finds out. It's our duty to the program to make sure that never happens.

I leave it as an exercise to the reader to decide which of the villains in this tragedy are having this conversation. I see several possibilities.
posted by localroger at 7:30 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


There really isn't a way for the NCAA to impose the death penalty here -- they mostly deal in maintaining fair competition. And it's hard to argue that covering up for a sex predator really, honestly affects competition.

On top of that, Penn State has never been put on NCAA probation. Ever. And the death penalty rule specifically states teams can only be disqualified for repeated violations.

But that said, there's been one other case of a school having an incident of moral turpitude that rises to this level: Baylor's murder scandal. And while Baylor basketball wasn't shut down, it was so severely sanctioned it took years for the school to rebuild its athletic programs. (And unlike SMU, Baylor basketball ultimately recovered, making the Elite Eight this year.)

The Baylor case, though, was about the NCAA hearing about the murder and kicking over rocks in response. It could well be that the NCAA starts poking around the Penn State program looking for competition violations.

But, honestly, I don't think it should be just the NCAA handling this. I think it should be the accrediting agencies and the Department of Education. This is a problem of academic politics. The institution as a whole failed these kids. Sanctioning the football program lets the academic leadership off the hook, and they are as guilty of this coverup as the athletic leadership.
posted by dw at 7:31 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I should also note that the SMU players got a free transfer to any school that would take them. This led to the infamous "meat market" in the days following the death penalty announcement -- coaches from all over the country descending on Dallas to pick the SMU carcass clean. It looked highly unsavory.

Between that and the long-term damage wrought on SMU, the NCAA has been very reticent about invoking the death penalty ever again. OTOH, what happened to SMU has been a powerful deterrent over the last 25 years. Schools like Alabama and Oklahoma have been awfully quick to report violations as soon as they know in hopes of convincing the NCAA that there's no "lack of institutional control" and they should not be considered for the death penalty.
posted by dw at 7:37 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, the NCAA is extra-legal, and so can theoretically institute whatever punishment they choose in this regard.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:45 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Toekneesan, my former boss (he recently retired) is a Penn State alum, and I have a colleague on faculty there whom i will see at scientific meetings next week. We certainly won't be talking about college football any time soon, which isn't any kind of tragedy, but I feel deeply for them both. They both are from Pennsylvania, and they have a lot of love for Penn State. I don't even know what to say to them, but it's obvious that they're both deeply affected by this scandal.

This whole situation is terrible. As an LSU alumnus, I know what it's like to attend and work for a university where football is the tail that wags the dog I like Les Miles. I choose to think that hes a nice guy, even though I figure that has to be as much marketing as reality. What kind of things could be happening in that system? How would it affect me if some kind of terrible scandal were to come to light?

And maybe that's really a terrible thing -- here I am pondering the feeling and reactions of lots of people at Penn State, but not those of the victims.
posted by wintermind at 7:51 PM on July 12, 2012


And the death penalty rule specifically states teams can only be disqualified for repeated violations.

Except in particularly egregious cases. Ask the erstwhile Morehouse soccer team.
posted by Etrigan at 7:55 PM on July 12, 2012


Understand, too, that the Clery Act comes into play now that Sandusky's been convicted. If the Department of Education feels this is egregious enough a crime, they can suspend Penn State's federal financial aid qualifications.

If I'm Penn State, I'm more afraid of that than whether or not the football program survives. If your students can't get Pell Grants or Stafford Loans, if you can't put students on federal work-study... you're going to have trouble keeping students enrolled. And all you may have left is the football team you so protect.
posted by dw at 8:03 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I can't decide if this is disingenuous or just - well, let's go with disingenuous. If you report what you believe to be a major crime on Friday, and on Monday morning the perp is still their grinning over his coffee, you know something is amiss. And if he hangs around campus for the next eight years, it's pretty clear no real action was taken based on your allegation.

McQueary is the "bad guy" I have the most sympathy for in this situation. He witnessed something that very likely traumatized him. Upon seeing it he froze, then bolted, then ran home to his daddy--he was pushing 30, and he ran to his dad. And I don't believe this was him not caring or being a coward, but that what he saw filled with him such horror that at that moment he broke inside. The janitor who witnesses Sandusky performing oral sex on a kid was so fucked up when he went to tell the other janitors they thought he was having a heart attack. My guess is witnessing that kind of thing in real life causes a fight-or-flight response--the only other comparable situation I can find in the news involved a dad beating his daughter's assailant to death upon finding her being assaulted.

At that point in his life he was a young coach who grew up idolizing Sandusky and Paterno and PSU itself. He played for the team. Seeing that wasn't just witnessing horrors, it was witnessing the entire moral fabric of his life get ripped to shreds. He saw Jesus raping a kid, so he go and tells GodJoePa, and he tells university administrators, and then nothing happens. Who is Happy Valley going to believe--the gods of Happy Valley, or Unimportant Assistant Coach? What does McQueary himself want to believe? That God, Jesus, and the Holy Choir of Happy Valley were enabling Jesus to keep raping kids?

To his credit, as soon as the investigators caught wind that some coach witnessed something and started asking around McQueary was on them like white on rice and could not stop talking about the whole thing. Then later he was trying to talk to the Freeh investigation.

His story changed a lot, but I think if you were Big Giant Football Guy who'd been suffering from secret sick shame over not beating a child rapist to a pulp and then were assaulted by everyone in the media for not beating a child rapist to a pulp you would probably feel compelled to try to redeem yourself to friends and the media too.

Anyway, I don't think what he did is OK. But him and the janitor, I can understand what happened with them the best. McQueary wasn't just struggling with losing his job, he was struggling with the loss of his entire identity and moral compass.
posted by schroedinger at 8:08 PM on July 12, 2012 [15 favorites]


How clueless was Penn State about the Clery Act? They didn't appoint a full-time compliance officer until March of this year. So it's not just that they're in trouble for Sandusky, they're in trouble for never really managing their crime information in the first place.
posted by dw at 8:10 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Now that it's clear there was a deliberate coverup it's all pretty obviously indefensible. I know that I had a hard time accepting that Paterno and company (that is to say, really anybody at all normal) would look the other way when they knew children were being raped, and so I imagined they did not believe the accusations, felt they lacked the evidence to pursue the accusations, or did not understand what was being accused; it seems clear now that it was knowingly swept under the rug. That is essentially incomprehensible to me. Sandusky is clearly some kind of monster, but it's easier for me to grasp the existence of a monster than it is to accept a conspiracy of silence arrived at by ostensibly undamaged people who wanted to protect a football program...or, perhaps more to the point, the money that football program made them. That's unconscionable. To me, it is barely even imaginable.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:31 PM on July 12, 2012


Matt Sandusky's story would have been a big can of worms all around because it came out in the middle of the trial and involved recanting Matt's grand jury testimony. Not that I disbelieve him there. His mother engaged in an extended fight to regain custody while reporting the same pattern of creepy behavior the prosecution documented for many of the other victims.

I think it's more likely that if Jerry Sandusky took the stand, he would have been cross-examined on things like the love letters, stalking, charity work, and gifts. Those were areas where Jerry was more than happy to plait enough rope to hang himself with. Also the prosecution was able to enter their own psych expert to torpedo the "overemotional but misunderstood" framing the defense attempted.

The defense appeared to do what it could with what little it had. It just didn't have that much beyond Jerry is a nice, misunderstood guy, one of the victims talked about money, and one of the investigators asked some leading questions. One analysis I read suggested that a hung jury or a prosecution screw up was a longshot hope that Jerry might walk out of prison someday. Now, his only hope is transhumanism.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 8:32 PM on July 12, 2012


schroedinger said it better than I can. I grew up in a Christian household (church-going, but not any more than most American families) always wondering why we said "suffered under Pontius Pilate" when Pilate seemed to be the only guy in the story defending Jesus.

I mean, I understand, kind of, that the angry mob is out for blood and Pilate says that he washes his hands of the matter, but that action was him saying that he wouldn't have an innocent man's bloods on his hands. He was the only person doing anything to stop the crucifixion, even though he was ultimately unsuccessful.

That's kind of how I feel about McQueary. He didn't do enough, but he did more than any of the others did.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:39 PM on July 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


Look, I'm really sorry, but I just can't get this out of my head -

When I say "rush to judgement", I'm talking about the pitchfork-wielding mob that wanted Paterno's head on a stick when, at the time, it was only clear that he should have known, not that he did know.

Quoting from page 7 of the grand jury indictment (referring to the 2002 incident where Mike McQueary caught Sandusky in the shower with a boy):

"Joseph V. Paterno testified to receiving the graduate assistant’s report at his home on a Saturday morning. Paterno testified that the graduate assistant was very upset. Paterno called Tim Curley (“Curley”), Penn State Athletic Director and Paterno’s immediate superior, to his home the very next day, a Sunday, and reported to him that the graduate assistant had seen Jerry Sandusky in the Lasch Building showers fondling or doing something of a sexual nature to a young boy."

Direct link to the Grand Jury indictment PDF here, if anyone really wants to read the thing. (Trigger Warning & possibly NSFW, of course.)

I don't see any way to read those sentences, Paterno's own testimony to the grand jury, and not see that Paterno knew. Even if he had somehow remained willfully or genuinely ignorant of everything that happened before March 1 2002, in his testimony to the grand jury he states that he was told on March 2nd that Sandusky was sexually abusing a boy in the Penn State showers.

The grand jury indictment, in pdf form, containing Paterno's own admission of knowledge, was available to the public (I saw it on Deadspin) the day after Sandusky was arrested.

There was no "rush to judgement". There was only Paterno's refusal to believe, refusal to act, and his attempts to claim that it wasn't his responsibility to report this to the police.
posted by soundguy99 at 9:05 PM on July 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


I hope all these fuckers who aren't dead go to jail.
posted by bardic at 9:22 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Only a bit related to this thread ...

Caltech is penalized by the NCAA

For what sounds like minor and unintentional violations Caltech is imposing three years of probation, one year of no campus recruiting and the vacating of wins and records on itself.

Over on sportsfilter someone made the point that if the NCAA does anything, then it has impose a severe punishment since any future sanctions will be compared against the penalties that Penn State got for covering for a child rapist.
posted by rdr at 10:37 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


soundguy99: "I don't see any way to read those sentences, Paterno's own testimony to the grand jury, and not see that Paterno knew."

When I said "it was only clear that he should have known, not that he did know", I was referring to knowing that the incident was being covered up/ignored by Curley and Schultz, not knowing that the incident itself occurred. I didn't make this clear in the comment you've quoted, but I think it's obvious in the context of my entire exchange with muddgirl ("who knew what and when" in my original post referring to Watergate, muddgirl's response referring to organization cover-ups in the Catholic church, etc.)

Of course he knew what McQueary told him, and he told the athletic director and the head of campus police about it, but nothing I saw in the presentment or in the initial flurry of news coverage made anything resembling a clear case that Paterno knew about the cover-up, which is what I'm talking about when I say there was a rush to judgement.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:46 PM on July 12, 2012


Popular and very successful college sports programs have been shut down in the past, when it became apparent that the system was purposely ignoring bad behavior.

It can be done. It isn't the end of the world or the University.
posted by eye of newt at 11:29 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Without the many lavishing the football program with worship, praise, money, and attention, it never would have crossed anyone's mind to protect the football program at the expense of rape victims.

I have no horse in this race - I don't have an informed or strong opinion on whether the entire football program as a whole should be sidelined or not - but I just wanted to point out that this is deeply unlikely to be true. People protect institutions (schools, summer camps, daycares, hospitals, military branches, etc.) from these kinds of accusations all the time. Sometimes the authority figure accused is dismissed and sometimes not. Anyone who thinks that what went on at Penn is special in some way is foolish.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:29 AM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Of course he knew what McQueary told him, and he told the athletic director and the head of campus police about it, but nothing I saw in the presentment or in the initial flurry of news coverage made anything resembling a clear case that Paterno knew about the cover-up, which is what I'm talking about when I say there was a rush to judgement.
Reality made the case that Joe knew about the cover up.

JoePa : "Hey I just saw Jerry, he must have got off that child raping thing then"
posted by fullerine at 3:12 AM on July 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


The shape of the organizational misconduct was clear from the presentment. An emeritus faculty was accused of committing a violent felony on university property. At least four people in the administration knew about the incident. It was never reported to police, and the disciplinary action against Sandusky was trivial. That's a coverup.

Paterno knew about the report, and he knew about the disciplinary action as a day-to-day matter. The only question resolved by the emails is whether he was going along with a bad decision or influencing it.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 6:47 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


If [McQueary] had blown the whistle, if he had lawyered up and reported the incident to authorities with an interest in protecting children and the legal powers to do so, he'd be morally in the clear.

Not to condemn McQueary, who at least somewhat vaguely attempted to do some not-wrong things, eventually, but the only way he'd be morally in the clear is if he had immediately intervened and bodily removed that child from the shower to a safe place and then immediately dialed 911. I have no idea how he was able to walk into that locker room daily for the next ten years without vomiting, but the mind is a powerful compartmentalizing machine.

I'd be overjoyed to see the Penn State football program go down in flames (just on general principles), but it money or power or face-saving or whatever issues aren't necessary to make someone look away or cover up child abuse and sexual violence. Shit, people regularly tune out or enable rapes of their own children by their own relatives occurring in their own homes. Paterno, Spanier, et al. practicing wilful blindness seems like business as usual. They just had lots more incentive and resources to help them studiously avoid confronting the facts.
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:48 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


tonycpsu: Right, OK, I see the point you're making. But I still have to disagree with your thesis, for two reasons.

First is basically the point fullerine made above - even if Paterno wasn't explicitly part of the cover-up, the fact that Sandusky was still walking around a free man was evidence that some kind of cover-up was at work.

Second (and I think more importantly), most of the stuff I saw calling for JoePa's head on a stick weren't so much outraged that he may have participated in a cover-up. They were outraged because he knew about the abuse and didn't go to the police himself. Maybe you and I were getting our info on the case from different sources, but seriously, most of the "pitchfork and burning torches" commentary I saw expressed a belief that Paterno had a moral obligation to report the incident(s) directly to the police and child protective services, not just pass the information up the chain of command.

There was certainly some debate over whether he had any legal obligation to report, and certainly a lot of people believed that there was no way a person of Paterno's authority and influence wasn't actively involved in a cover-up, but really most of the fury was a result of Paterno's failure to report.
posted by soundguy99 at 7:02 AM on July 13, 2012


I am pretty sure that the only thing that is going to take the Penn State football program down is if enough people equate "Penn State Football" with "enabled and facilitated child rape for more than a decade" in their minds.

To that end, I'd like to introduce the PENN STATE, CHILD RAPE! chant. Just shout it over and over. Makes a nice hash tag, too. #PennStateChildRape

Once that meme is salted into the national gestalt, there will be nothing for them to do but shut it down.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:13 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


People protect institutions (schools, summer camps, daycares, hospitals, military branches, etc.) from these kinds of accusations all the time.

Very true, but when you can identify something in particular about that institution that makes this type of protection more likely, you can then take action to prevent it from happening in the future. In this particular case, the football culture played a huge role. To think through your point, imagine if the child rapist had not been Jerry Sandusky, but had been a reasonably well-known professor. There probably would have been some institutional protection--you could say it's like a sort of institutional privilege, maybe. But, had the child rape been witnessed by, say, a graduate assitant in that professor's department, maybe he would have gone to his advisor first instead of the police. So there are some parallels. Two points from that, though: first, it's much less likely that this theoretical professor would have gotten the same degree of protection and enabling that Sandusky got. Second, in that case, we might be asking questions about how to change the academic culture to prevent this type of outrage.
posted by MoonOrb at 8:08 AM on July 13, 2012


Two points from that, though: first, it's much less likely that this theoretical professor would have gotten the same degree of protection and enabling that Sandusky got. Second, in that case, we might be asking questions about how to change the academic culture to prevent this type of outrage.

MoonOrb, I think that's a very rose tinted view of the world.

When a child is molested at summer camp, you fire the staff member, shut your mouth and pray to God 1) the family doesn't press charges, and 2) the family doesn't sue you in civil court, because either one will ruin the reputation of your camp and close your business. Same at daycare. Same at private schools.

Your academic example is equally flawed. While I know personally of no incident of a child being assaulted by a professor, I certainly know if undergrads and grad students being assaulted and it being covered up. There are a lot of reasons to beleive a child victim would not necessarily fare better. Reputation builds funding and enrolment, and without that departments close and people lose their jobs and careers.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:35 AM on July 13, 2012


delmoi: Right, his career is over because he reported it. Had he not reported it, nothing would have happened to him. So punishing him for reporting it is a bad idea.
Nothing, except for possibly serving time for covering up a child's rape. Two are already under indictment for doing so (lying to the Grand Jury), and more may follow. But, yeah, other than potentially serving a felony sentence, nothing.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:38 AM on July 13, 2012


But had he not reported it, nobody would have known he saw anything. I think that's the point.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:39 AM on July 13, 2012


soundguy99: " Second (and I think more importantly), most of the stuff I saw calling for JoePa's head on a stick weren't so much outraged that he may have participated in a cover-up. They were outraged because he knew about the abuse and didn't go to the police himself."

Right, and I think most Penn Staters (though probably not the ones turning over news vans the night Paterno was fired) shared that outrage from the outset. However, since Gary Schultz was in charge of the university police, it seemed plausible that Paterno thought he had done the right thing and reported the incident to the appropriate authorities -- I certainly wasn't the only person in the original Sandusky thread here that saw that as a possibility, at least.

Of course that still left a lot of open questions about why he wouldn't have followed up when he continued to see Sandusky on campus, etc. but I think a lot of alums (at least the ones I talk to on a regular basis) were willing to wait for more facts to come out before coming down on the side of willful ignorance vs. cluelessness.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:44 AM on July 13, 2012


rdr: "Caltech is penalized by the NCAA

For what sounds like minor and unintentional violations Caltech is imposing three years of probation, one year of no campus recruiting and the vacating of wins and records on itself.
"

And that's exactly why the NCAA is also corrupt to the core.

They justify their morality and integrity by meddling in small programs that nobody gives a shit about (sorry, Caltech), and allow virtually anything to slide at the big, money-making programs.

My alma mater was told in no uncertain terms that it needed to change its logo, or be completely expelled from the NCAA. Our team name is the Tribe, and we had two feathers in our logo. The NCAA were concerned about political-correctness issues the feathers, but not the name -- evidently, one item of Native American symbolism is okay, but two is unacceptably offensive. In spite of numerous statements of support from local Native American communities (and the lack of a single complaint from anyone about the logo), the NCAA would not relent, and the school was ultimately forced to drop the feathers.

Frankly, I don't care about any of this, and actually agree with the "better safe than sorry" mentality that supposedly led to the decision. It was a tempest in a teapot. However, I do care that the NCAA routinely turns its head away from gross ethical violations (as it will almost certainly do in the case of Penn State), and even ignores much larger schools in its ranks that have logos/mascots that are far more offensive, and have been formally opposed by Native American communities.

In other words, the NCAA beats up on a small athletic program every few years, just so that it can argue that it still cares about its ethics and standards. In many cases, this smackdown is even justified, but it's rarely applied evenly across the board.

If the NCAA applied the same standards to all colleges and universities equally, I'd have very little problem. The organization would have a clearly-defined role, and we wouldn't need to concern ourselves with discussions of overreach or ignorance. Instead, they bully small programs, and let the large/successful ones get away with murder.
posted by schmod at 8:54 AM on July 13, 2012


DarlingBri--I'm not saying that a professor wouldn't get some degree of institutional protection. I'm just saying he'd very likely get less (at least at Penn State, or a school like Penn State). And I happen to also agree that sexual assaults by professors of their (adult) students frequently result in little consequence to the professor, for the reasons you mention.

But Jerry Sandusky wasn't assaulting adults, he was assaulting kids. And, I don't think it's rose-tinted at all to say that if some professor at Penn State was witnessed raping a ten year old boy in the shower, he would have been significantly more likely to have had the incident reported to the police than was the case with Sandusky.

But, if you instead want to ask the question of, "Would Sandusky and this hypothetical professor have been treated similarly if the victim had not been a ten year old boy but had been an adult student?" I can agree with you that in that case, the institutional protection afforded to both the professor and Sandusky would likely be sufficiently great enough to shield either of them from significant consequence. That just wasn't the hypothetical I proposed, and what I'm suggesting is that in this hypothetical the difference between assaulting an adult and a ten year old is meaningful.
posted by MoonOrb at 8:59 AM on July 13, 2012


No one would be suggesting that the professor's entire department be closed down either.
posted by Etrigan at 9:01 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


To that end, I'd like to introduce the PENN STATE, CHILD RAPE! chant. Just shout it over and over. Makes a nice hash tag, too. #PennStateChildRape

Oh, I really wish Stanford were playing Penn State next year.

Maybe we can get 'em in a bowl game!

ignores much larger schools in its ranks that have logos/mascots that are far more offensive

To be fair, make that school with no "s" ;) - a friend and I were just talking about this ... are there any other schools left with Indian mascots? If so, it must be other tribe names ...
posted by mrgrimm at 9:02 AM on July 13, 2012


that is to say, before I even clicked on your links, I knew it was Florida State ...
posted by mrgrimm at 9:02 AM on July 13, 2012


Etrigan: No one would be suggesting that the professor's entire department be closed down either.

If the department leaders had engaged in an illegal cover-up while allowing the perpetrator to stick around and continue abusing people? Yeah, they would be.
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:03 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


schmod: " In other words, the NCAA beats up on a small athletic program every few years, just so that it can argue that it still cares about its ethics and standards. In many cases, this smackdown is even justified, but it's rarely applied evenly across the board."

This is precisely why I believe the NCAA has no standing to sanction Penn State, and it turns out experts don't think they will. The NCAA cartel is corrupt from top to bottom, and exists solely to protect the wealth of its member institutions. I think when most people think about the negatives associated with "football culture", they're talking about the big money influence, the special rules for players and programs that make big money, etc. and not the game that's played in between the lines. The NCAA is the one institution that, more than any of the conferences, teams, or universities, protects this system.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:06 AM on July 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


//To that end, I'd like to introduce the PENN STATE, CHILD RAPE! chant. Just shout it over and over. Makes a nice hash tag, too. #PennStateChildRape//

I'm pretty sure we can count on Ohio State here. There nothing an ethically challenged program likes more than a major rival that is even more ethically challenged.
posted by COD at 9:07 AM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


No one would be suggesting that the professor's entire department be closed down either.

If a department became so insulated from any sort of repercussions that not only was a graduate student afraid of reporting one of the professors to the police after seeing them rape a child but the entire senior cohort hid that rape and allowed the professor opportunities to rape more children, I think they would. Or, at least they should. Which is not to say that most disciplines do not have at least a few people implicated in some appalling things, where although the prof loses their job, people not only allow it to go unmentioned but that professor keeps publishing away.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 9:11 AM on July 13, 2012


Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish: But had he not reported it, nobody would have known he saw anything. I think that's the point.
Ah. Well, for McQueary, that is true. For everyone else, it's not true - so McQueary's "lesson" is only useful if you see someone committing a crime, and have the opportunity to walk away unnoticed.

If someone reports a felony to you, the takeaway lesson is: potential indictment for lying to a Grand Jury, and possibly more (as time will tell).
posted by IAmBroom at 9:14 AM on July 13, 2012


No one would be suggesting that the professor's entire department be closed down either.

If the department leaders had engaged in an illegal cover-up while allowing the perpetrator to stick around and continue abusing people? Yeah, they would be.


Nonsense. If a Professor of German at Penn State had committed these acts and the Chair of the Department of German Language and Literature had covered it up, the Chair would be fired. No one would suggest that German should never be taught at Penn State again -- hell, no one would even suggest that German shouldn't be taught for ten, five or even two years.

Yes, I know there's a difference between the academic and athletic departments. But the "nuke it from orbit" people sound more like they're against college football period.
posted by Etrigan at 9:22 AM on July 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm not against college football, necessarily, but I am against a system that encourages or even requires its participants to think of their loyalty to that system above all else. I don't know about Penn State in particular, but I assume that, like other college sports programs, lots of emotional and psychological energy was spend acculturating its members (players, coaches, and fans) to the idea that it's a family. That guy isn't just your team member - he's your brother; Coach isn't just Coach - he's your dad. And so on.

Is it any wonder, really, that no one really did anything about Sandusky? Kids are most likely to be abused and molested by people they know - by family members. And families are generally profoundly unwilling to confront the abuser, right down to telling the kid who gathers their courage enough to tell someone that Mommy or Daddy or Uncle is touching them that no, kid, you are lying; why are you such a liar? Or the abuser tells the kid, kid, if you ever tell, it will be your fault that the family breaks up.
posted by rtha at 9:28 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Etrigan: No one would be suggesting that the professor's entire department be closed down either.

If the department leaders had engaged in an illegal cover-up while allowing the perpetrator to stick around and continue abusing people? Yeah, they would be.


Nonsense. If a Professor of German at Penn State had committed these acts and the Chair of the Department of German Language and Literature had covered it up, the Chair would be fired. No one would suggest that German should never be taught at Penn State again -- hell, no one would even suggest that German shouldn't be taught for ten, five or even two years.
Your analogy is incomplete.

If the Chair and all of his several chief advisors/confidents in the Department had covered it up, yes, people would be suggesting shutting down the German department.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:29 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Etrigan, IAmBroom has a good point about one problem with your analogy, but the bigger difference is between athletics or club/extracurricular activities and the academic departments.

I think it could be reasonably argued that even more than the 4 main perpetrators, the entire Penn State football system contributed to the crimes.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:36 AM on July 13, 2012


It's not so much being against college football, it's being against letting football (or any sport) take over the whole university. Football at Penn State became bigger and more powerful than the academia and this scandal happened because the administration felt that it was too big to fail. The fact that Joe Paterno was the highest paid employee of the university shows the relative importance that football has over the entire rest of the school system. No German professor is making $1.03 million dollars a year.

I love football and have been to many Penn State games but the primary role of a university, especially a public one, is to educate, not to entertain. If college sports were knocked down to the their proper place in the overall scheme of things, maybe people wouldn't be motivated to break ethics rules and laws to protect an athletic program.
posted by octothorpe at 9:37 AM on July 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


Etrigan: " Nonsense. If a Professor of German at Penn State had committed these acts and the Chair of the Department of German Language and Literature had covered it up, the Chair would be fired. No one would suggest that German should never be taught at Penn State again -- hell, no one would even suggest that German shouldn't be taught for ten, five or even two years."

I agree with you that a lot of folks calling for the program to be killed probably disliked big-time college sports in general, but to be fair, teaching German is more important to the mission of a university than playing football is.

I would still like to see college football exist in some form in the future, but the influence of money in college athletics does create perverse incentives, and even if you hypothesize about those same perverse incentives existing in academic departments, it's probably more important to preserve the academic departments than the football teams.

Of course, there's nothing inherent about teaching German *or* playing college football that creates these incentives -- it's all about where the big money is.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:38 AM on July 13, 2012


If the Chair and all of his several chief advisors/confidents in the Department had covered it up, yes, people would be suggesting shutting down the German department.

Three of the four people involved weren't "in the Department," so to speak. Even if you expand "football" to "athletics," it's still two out of four.

And frankly, no. You're wrong. No one would be suggesting that no one should ever teach German at Penn State again. They'd want a clean house, and a new Chair would be brought in, and anyone with any hand in the coverup would be fired, but German would still be taught, because the idea that German in and of itself made this happen is ridiculous. Yes, the atmosphere at Penn State was "Football above all," but more precisely than that, it was "Paterno above all." Clearing house is a significantly different step from killing football entirely.
posted by Etrigan at 9:42 AM on July 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


If we're playing with hypotheticals, conspicuous McQueary of the shocking red hair could easily have gone down with Dottie Sandusky as probable witnesses who did nothing to protect the children. And yeah, it sucks to be McQueary, but he wouldn't have been forced to make those moral compromises between reporting and his vocation if Paterno, etc., had obeyed the law and done their fucking jobs.
By advising Sandusky, rather than the authorities, that they knew about the February 9, 2001 assault, they exposed this victim to additional harm because only Sandusky knew the child victim’s identity at the time.
What happened to that child? We don’t know; neither the university nor the prosecutors got his name. We do know that a jury agreed that something terrible had happened to him in that shower. And we know that Sandusky would have realized that the boy could be a witness against him. How did he treat the boy afterward? Based on the pattern of victims, he was likely someone Sandusky go to know through Second Mile, which was meant to help vulnerable children who came from difficult homes. Apart from possibly threatening or intimidating the boy (something he did to other victims), did Sandusky, over the next years, do anything to shape the boy’s life, to make him less credible—to direct him to grow into the kind of man whom others might not believe? A push, a word, a bad choice at a key juncture: whoever that boy became, or never had a chance to become, Sandusky helped make him. So did Penn State.
Amy Davidson for the New Yorker
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 9:52 AM on July 13, 2012


Also from the New Yorker:
The report makes it clear that Penn State football was Sandusky’s bait. The administrators repeatedly approved Sandusky’s requests to make his connection to the university real and visible, both as part of his retirement package—negotiated just months after the 1998 incident—and long afterward. He was able to offer children sideline access and tickets, camps and clinics on university property, and Second Mile-Penn State playing cards. Football players regularly volunteered for Second Mile.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 9:58 AM on July 13, 2012


That's what's tipping me in favor of organization-level sanctions. The Penn State administration didn't just fail to report. They didn't just say, "I'm sorry Jerry, clean out your desk and you'll get your pension at the start of the month, don't come back here."

They maintained a professional and symbiotic relationship with the man and his charity for over a decade in spite of multiple reports of child abuse. PSU and Second Mile maintained a quid-pro-quo relationship. And just from a cover-your-ass perspective, that's unfathomable to me.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 10:17 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's why I was only half-kidding about RICO charges. This was an organized conspiracy to knowingly, actively, materially aid someone affiliated with the organization in the commission of violent felonies. The university administration is lucky the feds haven't frozen its funds and assets and put the whole sorry sinkhole of an institution in receivership while determining which additional heads ought to roll.
posted by FelliniBlank at 10:50 AM on July 13, 2012


And let me clarify that I don't wish any of that on the faculty, students, staff, and community members. I work at a university and would be horrified (if not surprised) to learn that the shifty, craven weasels in our upper administration had engaged in this kind of behavior.
posted by FelliniBlank at 10:56 AM on July 13, 2012


lots of emotional and psychological energy was spend acculturating its members (players, coaches, and fans) to the idea that it's a family. That guy isn't just your team member - he's your brother

Compare:

* organized crime/gangs
* the military
* police
* greek system

I see a inherent problem with exclusive institutions, especially when they acquire power.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:57 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Etrigan It's a bad analogy because German isn't football. We do not have tens or hundreds of thousands of fans cramming into a stadium to watch German professors debate verb forms. We do not have people identifying with the German team. We do not have millions of dollars in sales of German team memorabilia.

It's a bad analogy.

What made this scandal possible was the **POWER** that the football team at Penn State has due to football idolatry. Power that made a janitor fearful that reporting a rape would cost him his job.

No academic department at any university has comparable power.

It is that power that must be broken.

I know of only one way to break that power, and that's to stop football at Penn State. Possibly temporarily, possibly forever (though I haven't seen anyone seriously suggesting forever, all the "death penalty" talk refers to a one year suspension at SMU, hardly forever).

But, and this is important: football doesn't matter. It's a game. It's supposed to be a side issue for a university. Even if the only answer is to end football forever then so what?

I don't think football at Penn State has to stop forever. But I do think it should stop for a year or five. Long enough for the culture of football idolatry that not merely permitted, but caused, this crime to die off. Long enough for people to realize that their lives go on just fine without worshiping at the alter of JoePa and his team so that when football comes back they enjoy it as a game and not a religion.
posted by sotonohito at 1:49 PM on July 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


And yes, if there was a culture of German language idolatry and the German department were found to have been deeply involved in covering up rapes than of course the German team should be suspended for a year or five to let things cool down.
posted by sotonohito at 1:56 PM on July 13, 2012


That will never happen. Ever. If football comes back, it will come back to the second-largest stadium in the Western Hemisphere. The Nittany Lions will still remember their national championships and Joe Paterno and white-outs and every scrap of tradition. Unless you end Penn State football forever, you can only hope to trim away the excesses, and I think the fact that everyone associates Penn State football with covering up child rape will do more for that than a death penalty would.
posted by Etrigan at 1:59 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


In my experience (luckily none of it from being in one that got to anything near these stages) this is how institutions treat hugely messed up departments:

They bring in a head from outside the department. Frequently from outside the subject area. Often at the same time the department loses its graduate program. Old professors will be moved into retirement or shuffled off in some way (firing, even when warranted, is usually rare). If the problem is untreatable by these measures they close the department and redistribute what's left of the faculty to other departments. Some of those weird blended departments you see are the results of these sorts of situation (though often they're just efforts to save money).
posted by lesbiassparrow at 2:04 PM on July 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Etrigan: This is exactly why, in my opinion, if this situation warrants the death penalty, it has to be the death penalty. Not a five-year prison sentence with probation to follow. The program ends, the stadium is repurposed or demolished, and the statue gets melted down. To say it's harsh is a severe understatement, but if your goal is to remove football as an object of worship at Penn State nothing else would work.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:13 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


lesbiassparrow: Exactly. It's not out of the question that a university would eliminate an academic department like German if it were discovered that the senior leadership were involved in a consistent pattern of gross malfeasance and concealing the same over a period of years.
posted by grouse at 2:18 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Etrigan Well, if you're right then I'll move that we permanently end football at Penn State. I was of the opinion that perhaps with a shutdown of the program for a few years, and a complete replacement of the staff it could be salvaged. If that's wrong, if as you claim the football idolatry will always be there so long as the idol is present then it's time to get all Moses on the Golden Calf on this idol.
posted by sotonohito at 2:30 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


sotonohito: I think we know where you stand on punishing Penn State, but how do you go about closing the barn doors before the cows get out next time?

If idolatry is the problem, what is your remedy for programs / schools that have become too interested in sports for their own good, but haven't yet burst into flames the way Penn State has? Do you think that football idolatry is something that's exclusive to Penn State? Do you think that idolatry of college athletic programs is exclusive to football?
posted by tonycpsu at 2:56 PM on July 13, 2012


The thing is that the Paterno Mythos was in many ways widespread outside of the football devotees. I went to Penn State as a grad student in Art History, never attended a game, enjoyed my time there, got a good education, and have a PSU hoodie I wear when it gets cold. And even I was hopeful that something would prove that Paterno had not been neck deep as proves to have been the case.

The thing is, I now live in ground zero of another powerful college football tradition, but without the central figure of the beloved coach. But it doesn't really matter - the symbolism is simply taken up by the team itself, by the wins of the past and the hopes for the future, by the tailgating and the sweatshirts and driving four hours to the stadium and seeing people you knew at school with their kids. Football gets bound up in the culture and it's importance starts to balloon until you can't separate the two. And then people start thinking that football is the reason for the university, instead of the other way around.
posted by PussKillian at 6:36 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]




Wait a minute, PSU has its own corporate jet?
posted by localroger at 11:17 AM on July 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can't believe it!
posted by homunculus at 1:18 PM on July 14, 2012




Statue stays, for now.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:02 PM on July 14, 2012


I'd seen photos of the statue before but never the whole installation. The wall behind it says Vincent Paterno: Educator, Coach, Humanitarian. This is why we do not make gods of men.

I thought this was an excellent piece of writing from ESPN's Rick Reilly; it really helped to put the stature of Joe Paterno and the NCAA question into a framework I can understand as someone unfamiliar with Penn's program.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:14 AM on July 15, 2012


If they leave the statue in public I hope they have budget line items for paint remover and surveillance to protect it.
posted by localroger at 6:17 AM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's a reason that even papists usually wait until five years after death before they begin the canonization process; it's generally long enough to recognize any true impediments to sainthood and burnish away the remaining flaws.
posted by The Confessor at 6:40 AM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


The pull quote from DarlingBri's link, and the reason the statue should come down at minimum: "You don't know him. He'll do anything to win."

If that's what passes for virtue nowadays, then go ahead and leave the statue up.
posted by localroger at 7:20 AM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've been reading reports on FB of my grad advisor, who still teaches there. A handmade sign near the statue reading "Remember, he was a man, not a god" was amended, by means of careful tearing, to read "Remember he was a god." As a bunch of art historians, we're all reminded of ancient Rome and Egypt and icons.
posted by PussKillian at 11:21 AM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Remember he was a god."

I guess for all intents and purpose he was. He clearly could do anything he wanted and have his worshippers excuse it. Maybe the statue should stay up, but they should place in front of it a description of the horrifying things that happened to those children in enormous letters. Let people read that and gaze on the statue and see how they feel about their god.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 3:04 PM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Honestly, either of those statements could be read as positive or negative. "He was a man" could mean that he should never have been idolized or that he should be forgiven for his failings. "He was a god" could likewise be "he deserved to be worshipped" or "This is what happens when you turn a football coach into a deity."
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:00 PM on July 15, 2012


For a little context, it was placed at the sculpture which currently has a ton of flowers and notes around it, and it's the only one that was tampered with in such a way. I suppose they could be read in both ways, but it was my former prof's thought that it was the only sign slightly challenging the adulation, and the only one which was altered by a second party to bring it in line with popular sentiment.
posted by PussKillian at 7:17 AM on July 16, 2012


I'm trying to think of the most appropriate offering to the JoePa shrine, i.e. how does one physically represent vicious child abuse covered up by systemic corruption while remaining innocuous enough not to get censored?

Maybe something like a sad little LEGO football player?
posted by mrgrimm at 9:47 AM on July 16, 2012


I'd like to hope that I live in a world where enough people care about evil that someone will tear down Paterno's statue out of their own sense of outraged justice, or at least vandalize it in some difficult to repair way. There are times and places where vandalism is entirely appropriate. The oft toppled statue of a policeman in Haymarket Square is one such example, and now Paterno's statue is another.

But I suspect no one will. Who cares if he covered up for rape, he won some football games and that's all that really matters, right?

I think that the inaction of the trustees at Penn State is going to set the theme for everything to come. No one will do anything, everyone will pretend that the problem is solved, and football idolatry will continue without a hiccup.

tonycpsu Honestly, I figure that in any situation where a football coach gets paid more than a real professor there's a problem.

Universities exist to educate, not to produce and support professional football teams.

I've got no problem with sports in universities. I do have a serious problem when sports start overwhelming the real reason for having universities around.

I'm pretty nervous about any sort of adoration and worship directed at either individuals or institutions. The wealthy and powerful get stuff covered up and excused anyway, add in adoration to that and it gets a lot worse. We saw it with the Church, we saw it with Roman Polanski, we saw it with the Penn State football team, we've seen it over and over through history.

I don't know what the long term fix is.

I'm inclined to say that perhaps we simply ought to eliminate college sports altogether, not just the big name sports, but everything from fencing to handball as well. The scholarship aspect has always bugged me. Students of no particular academic ability but who are jocks get to go to college while their peers who aren't good enough students for a real academic scholarship but who are better students than their jock friends get told to flip burgers. I see that as a problem. Worse, I see it as a way of telling poor kids that studying won't get them ahead and if they want a chance at college they'd better get to the gym.

If people want to do sports, I say that's great and they should. There are plenty of amateur leagues and teams out there for them to get involved with.

If we didn't see the sort of corruption, waste, fraud, etc that we see with college sports I'd be willing to shrug and see it as a weird quirk but nothing to worry about. But we do see pretty serious problems.

Maybe academics and sports just plain don't mix. Frankly I've never really understood why we tried, it isn't like learning to analyze Shakespeare will help a person throw a ball, or vice versa.

Keep it separate and maybe it won't grow enough to become the sort of monster that can cause the problems we saw at Penn State?

I think it might be possible to at least reduce the problem a bit by mandating that head coaches can't be paid more than the lowest paid professor, and assistant coaches get paid even less. Take some of the money out and it'd deflate the egos a bit. But that won't happen either.

I don't know. But I do know that if the solution is to end college sports it'll never happen, it's too deeply ingrained in the American culture to be undone without a tremendous outside force. More than just a few raped kids will produce.

Hell, a few raped kids aren't even enough to convince the fans at Penn State that Paterno ever did anything wrong.

To be perfectly honest I think people just care more about the sports they love than they do about raped kids. And not just sports either.

George Carlin said this about Michael Jackson.
I don’t care if Michael Jackson freaked off with little boys or not. It doesn’t bother me. Fuck those kids. And fuck their greedy parents too. What’s important to me is that Michael is the greatest entertainer who ever lived. Bar none. Watch him dance; pay attention to the showmanship. No one ever came close. Elvis was a bogus white guy with sex appeal and good looks who ripped off a lot of great black music, watered it down, and made it safe for lame whites who couldn't handle the experience of raw, emotional black music. Never grew as an artist; remained an entertainer. Fuck Elvis. Sammy Davis Jr.? Nice try. Ordinary dancer, ordinary singer, second-rate impressionist. I also didn’t like the insincere sincerity. But he was a nice man, personally; I give him credit for that. Frank Sinatra? Great singer of songs, among the best. Superb musician. Grew as an artist. No showmanship, though. Arrogant, too. And mean to ordinary people. Fuck him. Michael Jackson buries them all. I say give him a bunch of kids and let him dance.
I've never been sure if Carlin was joking or not. But I do know that a lot of people would, completely seriously, say the same about Paterno. And because of that nothing will change. I have no idea what it'd take to make things change. Raped kids aren't enough, that's self evident. I'm not sure murdered kids would be enough.

The fans love their sports. As long as the team delivers they don't seem to care about much else, and nothing seems to change that.
posted by sotonohito at 1:08 PM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think an alternative carrot/stick to the "death penalty" which would be a big blow to the ego but not as great of a blow to the local economy would be postseason suspensions. Put the football program on probation and force them to document background checks on employees, adoption of child-safety guidelines for clinics, and vetting of promotional relationships. Force them to hire an independent auditor to document compliance. And if they fail, no big-10 ranking, no postseason games. Put Penn State in the position of earning their post-season play.

And for men's coaches for major sports, postseason records are a big honking stick.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 3:41 PM on July 16, 2012


I've been following this case since the first thread appeared on MeFi, and among all the more serious emotions and thoughts it brings up, I can't dismiss the (to me) weirdness of there being such a cashed-up sports organisation attached to a university.

In Australia, university sports teams get minimal funding and support; they're run largely by students and volunteers. A sausage sizzle or a quiz night might pay for a training camp, that sort of thing. Some of the coaches or team members move up to professional levels, but not because their university has any involvement in the issue. The professional/national sports leagues which attract the big corporate sponsorships (AFL, rugby, cricket, soccer) get their junior talent from the state leagues, which have no association with educational institutions at all.

To me, it's a bit like the way in which health insurance is closely linked to your place of employment in the USA - understandable when you look at the history and how it started, but an idea that's long outlived it's usefulness.
posted by harriet vane at 12:34 AM on July 18, 2012 [5 favorites]




harriet vane: "A sausage sizzle"

Isn't that how all this trouble started in the first place?
posted by Bonzai at 8:22 AM on July 18, 2012


I'm not a sports guy much but it's been kind of fascinating to listen to the sports talk radio shows since the Freeh report came out. The jocks are slowly heeling around to the realization that this thing cannot be defended, and the callers are overwhelmingly in favor of the NCAA death penalty. But the jock talking heads are mostly balking at that and are much more in favor of jail for all the individuals involved but mercy for the poor kids who will get punished for putting their trust in PSU and losing the football opportunities they came there fore.

The thing is, Penn State didn't just have a football program; it had a cult. It's not just a matter of punishing individuals; the cult itself and its perceived importance is what seduced the leaders into committing there awful mistake, and it is the cult which must be taken down a peg if not destroyed. There is no way to do that without hurting the cultists.

If your leaders take you to war and it turns out to be a mistake, you don't get un-shot and your crops and house don't get un-burned just because you did your part fairly and with honor. But you and maybe the citizens of other nations will learn that the whole going to war thing was a bad idea. What needs to happen here is that people need to learn that making a college football program into a cult, with holy ikons like the Blessed Statue and holy rituals like the Paterno Square Campout, is a bad idea.

Seems odd that we didn't learn that from the Texas A&M bonfire tragedy, but I guess it's a hard lesson for those who need it.
posted by localroger at 9:45 AM on July 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


localroger: The thing is, Penn State didn't just have a football program; it had a cult. It's not just a matter of punishing individuals; the cult itself and its perceived importance is what seduced the leaders into committing there awful mistake, and it is the cult which must be taken down a peg if not destroyed. There is no way to do that without hurting the cultists.
Very well put. People at every level and station at Penn State and the wider community (from the university leadership to the community police down to the janitors) valued football above all else (above basic human decency, NCAA rules, and even the law) and were more concerned about harming the football program than harming children.

For god sake, they not only let Sandusky retain his high and honored association with the university, but also allowed him to run a football camp for kids on a satellite campus of Penn State until 2009. They were effectively accomplices in setting up and running a child rape factory. Hey, anything but harm football.

And what are die-hard Penn State football cultists saying now, at long last? They're hiding behind kids* (the student athletes) and saying do anything you want, just don't harm football.

Sorry, but that's exactly the mentality that got Penn State into this mess; clearly the lesson still hasn't sunk in.

The culture of Penn State football, the cult of football, was responsible for these horrible and indefensible crimes. That culture needs to go away, the cult needs to be disbanded.

* in a death penalty case, the student athletes would certainly be allowed to transfer (and possibly even given the option of retaining their free ride at Penn State, if being a student part is actually more important to them than football).
posted by Davenhill at 10:29 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


From the article posted by rtha about the plane circling with the message "TAKE THE STATUE DOWN OR WE WILL":
From her office on campus in the Agricultural Analytical Services Laboratory, university employee Donna Maurer saw the plane flying over after her boss alerted her and her co-workers about it. For her, what was most upsetting was that “someone would have the nerve to do it.”

“We’ve all suffered enough already,” she said.

“It’s just putting such a bad, negative light on the university,” Maurer said.
That comment and those feelings make me shiver and quail inside. I don't even understand the rational though process that would cause someone to think much less say something like that. If anyone is responsible for putting "bad, negative light on the university" it is not the author of the banner.

My mind is blank, it is just some alien language that seems like English but does not parse into sensibibility.
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:42 AM on July 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm not a sports guy much but it's been kind of fascinating to listen to the sports talk radio shows since the Freeh report came out. The jocks are slowly heeling around to the realization that this thing cannot be defended, and the callers are overwhelmingly in favor of the NCAA death penalty. But the jock talking heads are mostly balking at that and are much more in favor of jail for all the individuals involved but mercy for the poor kids who will get punished for putting their trust in PSU and losing the football opportunities they came there fore.

I caught a bit of the ESPN Mike & Mike show this morning, and I was shocked to discover exactly this: the attitude that this is only some kind of criminal justice problem, that the NCAA has no meaningful role, and that we should all just move past this and let the football program alone. The fact that this is apparently a mainstream view tells me that the death penalty is more necessary than ever.
posted by MoonOrb at 3:33 PM on July 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't even understand the rational though process that would cause someone to think much less say something like that.

I think I see your problem. It's not, obviously, a rational thought process; it's tribal devotion and existential despair. It's like the concept of dealing with Sandusky "humanely" but no mention of the kids. In this PSU-centric view of the universe PSU isn't just a school, in a very literal sense it is her entire world and existence without it seems impossible. Injury to the school is injury to her and to everything she considers important. Trying to explain to her that a few cases of kiddie rape might be more important than good ole PSU would be like Galileo trying to explain to Pope Urban that, whatever your cool book says and however much it helps your ego, the Earth is not in fact the center of the universe.

She cannot see the view from outside, where PSU is just a fracking college and it wasn't just the rogue Sandusky, it wasn't just the craven Paterno who probably gave Sandusky what he thought would be one and only one pass to take his extracurricular activities elsewhere only to be blackmailed into handing over the locker room keys with the evidence of his own prior complicity, it's not just a few flawed people who made bad choices.

It's that those people and thousands of others are so blinded by what they think is the importance and heritage and target of their devotion that a fucking football program is somehow more important than kiddie rape. And why not? Football programs are deemed more important than the occasional tragic catastrophic player injury all the time.

The point needs to be made that as fun as it might be to make a football team your religion, there are some things more important. Someone needs to take a giant step back and say, if you're painting your house in the team colors or taking dangerous risks to build a 100-foot-tall bonfire stack or giving kiddie rapists a pass, maybe you're taking the goddamn team a bit too seriously.

Frankly, if whoever hired the banner airplane put up a tip jar I'd send them $20 on general principles and probably so would a lot of other people. PSU acolytes need to understand that not everyone is a member of their cult, and I am quite sure that if they are stupid enough to leave the statue in public it will eventually be vandalized by someone who wants to make that point. And most likely by PSU alumni. Because if there's one viewpoint from which this is more annoying than an outsider's, it will be the viewpoint of an actual PSU fan who gets it and realizes what the cult has done in their name.

(On one of those sports shows a caller declared flatly that, after years of devoted fandom he'd now renounce his PSU degree if it wasn't so important to his career, he would spend the rest of his life apologizing that that name was on his degree, and he would never again wear the school colors -- which meant he would have a lot of cleaning rags.)
posted by localroger at 4:52 PM on July 18, 2012 [3 favorites]




From schmod's link:

●As of November*, Penn State’s Clery Act policy was still in draft form and had not been formally implemented. Although the school offered training to employees starting in 2007, the athletic department did not participate.

“The football program, in particular, opted out of most of the University’s Clery Act, sexual abuse awareness and summer camp procedures training,” the report reads. “The Athletic Department was perceived by many in the Penn State community as ‘an island,’ where staff members lived by their own rules.”


I thought I was done being surprised and horrified at what's happened there, but I guess not. This makes me want to throw up.

* Yes, November 2011. As in, less than a year ago.
posted by rtha at 6:41 PM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


If I'm interpreting that article correctly, they should have had a Clery Act policy in place from 1990. And as of last year the athletics department still didn't have one. 21 years. That's really shocking - I had assumed all this time that they at least were paying lip service to the idea of reporting abuse, and just not following through. But they couldn't even chuck a policy into the filing system? What the fuck is wrong with these people?
posted by harriet vane at 10:43 PM on July 18, 2012


Just a further note on the tangent of how people perceive college sports and college loyalty in Australia: nearly everyone I know through work is tertiary educated. I do not know a single person with an item of clothing with their alma mater's logo on it. It's just not done here in Oz. We expect a little loyalty from staff, but none from students. The Paterno embroidered pillow is clearly wack (isn't it? please tell me that's not common), but even the pennants and hoodies and all that look odd to me.
posted by harriet vane at 10:50 PM on July 18, 2012


harriet vane, it's just a very different tertiary education culture. Australians are not paying $40,000 a year for their uni degrees. Students in the US are literally invested in their universities in a way they are not in many other places. As has been noted multiple times, collegiate sports in the US generate the kind of rabid loyalty you probably only see for national sides. This is intensely nurtured by the school's culture when you're there and by the alumni department when you leave because alumni are the single biggest source of donations and legacies for any school.

People living abroad often note that the US is peculiar in its overt patriotism - there are American flags everywhere. That kind of "rah rah siss boom bah" is also extended to colleges with the hoodies and the flags and the bumper stickers - it's a pretty natural extension.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:46 AM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't know if the cost of tuition has anything to do with it. I went to Penn State in the '80s when in-state tuition was $2500 a year and fandom was just as rabid. The "book store" on campus was stocked with every kind of licensed logo item you could think of from stuffed Nittany Lion dolls to blue and white underwear to Penn State toilet seats (Go Penn State). Game days were just crazy with the little town of 50,000 ballooning to more than twice that size as tens of thousands of people drove their RVs up the little mountain roads to tailgate in the fields outside the 100,000 seat stadium.

The amusing thing is that I was never a sports fan as a kid and was in the Fall semester (trimester actually) of my first year there before I knew that they had a football team.
posted by octothorpe at 5:58 AM on July 19, 2012


If, after 21 years, you have not complied with a requirement that other departments of your organization have complied with, the inevitable conclusion is that you have no intention of ever complying with that requirement. When the requirement is one designed to prevent sexual abuse of minors (among other things), it's clear that preventing that is not something you care much about.

Deserves that death penalty.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:05 AM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


//As has been noted multiple times, collegiate sports in the US generate the kind of rabid loyalty you probably only see for national sides//

It goes deeper than college sports though. Have you ever looked at high school football in the South? Or high school basketball in Indiana? This loyalty to school sports thing is embedded way deeper in our culture than just college sports. Hell, some of the most rapid college sports fans never attended any college, let alone the one they root for.
posted by COD at 7:33 AM on July 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm halfway through the book Friday Night Lights (on which the TV series was based) and it's an incredibly depressing read.
posted by rtha at 8:15 AM on July 19, 2012


Obituary Cartoons: Getting it Wrong On Paterno. Rob Tornoe updates his famous obit cartoon.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:41 AM on July 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


I did a triple-take when I first saw that cartoon. Rob used to draw cartoons for my (low-circulation, weekly) paper before he was able to go full-time.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:54 AM on July 19, 2012


Today WWL radio, which is as thick a bastion of sports obsessed right-wing low-information Bubbas as you can hope to find, made their online poll "Should Penn State get the NCAA death penalty for the Sandusky scandal?"

As of noon it was running about 55-45 in favor of the death penalty.

Around that time they changed it to "If the Sandusky scandal had happened at LSU (our most widely beloved local university, as opposed to someone else's far off beloved university) would you want them to get the NCAA death penalty?"

It's still running about 55-45 in favor.

True it's web poll not scientific etc. but that is a truly remarkable result for this corner of the deep South. The idiots who think it's a good idea to keep the statue outside of Beaver Stadium should take note.
posted by localroger at 12:02 PM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes, November 2011. As in, less than a year ago.

As I noted above, They did finally hire a Clery Act compliance officer in March, so at least that's done.

That's really shocking - I had assumed all this time that they at least were paying lip service to the idea of reporting abuse, and just not following through. But they couldn't even chuck a policy into the filing system? What the fuck is wrong with these people?

Keep in mind that this is a problem with many colleges and universities here in the US -- Clery Act compliance has never risen to the level of, say, complying with FERPA or HIPAA. So there are a lot of major schools that are out of compliance, and even the ones that are in compliance screw up, e.g. when Virginia Tech sent out a notice about the mass shooting two hours after it began instead of minutes after it began.

I'm willing to bet that before all the Penn State fiasco started, there were a staggering number of schools that were functionally out of compliance with the Clery Act. I expect that after everything that's happened and after the Department of Education is done with Penn State, almost every school will be in compliance.

And again... the death penalty to the football program is the least of Penn State's worries. They can function without a football team, or even any athletic program. But if the Department of Education decides to ban them from receiving federal financial aid funding, well, now you're saying over 60% of the student body will be unable to pay for tuition. Game over.
posted by dw at 7:28 PM on July 19, 2012


Schroedinger's Paterno Statue both will and won't come down this weekend.
posted by localroger at 10:55 AM on July 20, 2012


It's another point of evidence for the tacit rule of not putting up memorials before a person's dirty laundry has a chance to hit the clothesline.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 11:47 AM on July 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Or perhaps limit the privilege of being immortalized in life in cast metal to figure models, dictators, and reigning monarchs.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 11:52 AM on July 20, 2012


I know this is likely to be a deeply unpopular thought, but I am actually not convinced about taking down the statue. I have a deep suspicion of revisionist history. I also appreciate that history is long, and that when we look at a statue of Stalin, we see Stalin from our current historical perspective, not the perspective of his contemporary supporters. The remaining statues of Stalin have both artistic and historical value, and there is little lobbying to remove those that remain.

Paterno existed. Removing the statue doesn't change that, or what followed from that. He was a massive part of Penn's history and served for 45 years. He was also deeply flawed, guilty of collusion and conspiracy. Penn is first and foremost a place of learning, and I cannot imagine a more teachable moment in the school's history. For them to vote to tear down the statue smacks uncomfortably of white washing to me. Taking the statue down should not be seen as an attempt to erase this event.

I would personally prefer the statue stayed up and the text on the wall was replaced as a reminder - to students, to teachers, to administrators, to alumni - not to make gods of men. I'm sure there's some perfect piece of non-denominational Shakespeare or Milton or what have you, but something along the lines of Psalm 4:2 would do for me:

How long, O men, will you turn my glory into shame? How long will you love delusions and seek false gods?
posted by DarlingBri at 3:10 PM on July 20, 2012


DarlingBri, preserving the statue instead of melting it down is probably a good idea, but it absolutely doesn't need to be where it is, because if the lesson it teaches is about the hubris of making gods of men, that's not a lesson we need while entering the stadium to see a football game.

The fact is, everything about the statue, its placement, and the installation surrounding it is exactly about making a god of Joe Paterno. Move it into a museum and surround it with an installation timelining the tragedy he was concealing in the last decade of his career and the misplaced skill and devotion exhibited by the statue, and it's a completely different matter.

In any case leaving it in such an open public space is just a bad idea, and they might be realizing that. Considering the depth of emotion this has aroused I doubt the airplane banner threat was idle.
posted by localroger at 3:20 PM on July 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's only right that the Joe Paterno statue should stay, but ONLY if they add a naked Sandusky statue humping it from behind.
posted by spock at 3:49 PM on July 20, 2012


Live feed of Paterno statue being taken down.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 4:17 AM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Looks like the Paterno statue state vector collapsed into the stadium.
posted by localroger at 6:01 AM on July 22, 2012




Wow. Given that a complete suspension of the football program does have precedent, this has me really curious.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:36 AM on July 22, 2012


HZSF it might be unprecedented in that they have never issued such a complete suspension against a top-tier school like PSU where the football program is worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
posted by localroger at 7:39 AM on July 22, 2012


Twitter rumblings range from bowl bans and revoked scholarships to a two-year ban. In all honesty, something like a ten-year bowl ban and halving the number of scholarships will kill a program more than a one-year ban.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:46 AM on July 22, 2012


I'm halfway through the book Friday Night Lights (on which the TV series was based) and it's an incredibly depressing read.

You might be interested in reading Buzz Bissinger's April 2012 follow-up book, 'Friday Night Lights: When the Games Ended, Real Life Began. An Unlikely Love Story.'

It's a short (34 page) e-book available at Amazon and Byliner.
posted by ericb at 7:49 AM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


ESPN: No death penalty, but penalties on bowl games and scholarships will be so severe that "the death penalty may have been preferable."
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:39 AM on July 22, 2012


Pure conjecture, but I wouldn't be surprised to see a set of sanctions that last 13 years -- the length of time between Sandusky's first known-but-unreported incident to when the grand jury finally released their report.
posted by dw at 9:15 AM on July 22, 2012


Wow, I wish I could send that trustee quoted in HZSF's ESPN link some cheese to go with all that whine. Talk about a portrait of a man who ain't getting it.
The NCAA has a system in place in which it conducts its own investigations, issues a notice of allegations and then allows the university 90 days to respond before a hearing is scheduled.

Following the hearing, the Infractions Committee then usually takes a minimum of six weeks, but it can take upwards of a year to issue its findings.

But in the case of Penn State, the NCAA appears to be using the Freeh report -- commissioned by the school's board of trustees -- instead of its own investigation, before handing down sanctions.

"Unbelievable," said a Penn State trustee informed of the NCAA statement, speaking to ESPN.com senior writer Don Van Natta Jr. "Unbelievable, unbelievable."
I suspect it has occurred to someone important in the NCAA that this has the potential to be a survival matter for their whole organization. This has gotten people asking a lot of questions that go far beyond PSU. Lots of people who don't give a rat's ass about college football are now asking how it got so important that important, respected people let kiddie rape slide to protect a football program. And if you follow that logic too far you end up at the NCAA, the other schools, and find yourself asking as I did upthread what the fuck a public university needs a goddamn lear jet for.
posted by localroger at 3:17 PM on July 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's not really a survival issue for the NCAA at all. Even with the shadow hanging over PSU they are still flush with cash, and that's not changing any time soon.

But what's coming through is that the NCAA wants to be rid of this scandal as much as Penn State. Thus the sanctions being announced tomorrow. Apparently the NCAA and Penn State came to an agreement last week for sanctions. Emmert went to the board to get these special powers so the normal investigation period -- which could stretch as much as another year, or at the very least push it into the football season -- could be suspended in this case. They're going to use the Freeh report to determine the sanctions. Penn State is essentially pleading guilty and won't appeal in exchange for not only a lighter sentence, but early closure.

This is all coming from some third-hand knowledge I'm getting out of Penn State people I talk to on another group. Apparently the sanctions, according to the third hand source, do not include the death penalty, but will be financially crippling and could potentially render Penn State's football a third-rate program for years to come. And it won't stop at the football program, either. And there will be serious financial penalties as well.

I can see what they mean by "wish they were on the death penalty," per the many articles coming out of there. If half of what I've heard is true, it will set back Penn State football 50+ years. They'll be working with less money than even the minnows of the Big Ten have now, and there's just no way they can make it up with donations alone.
posted by dw at 5:25 PM on July 22, 2012


If half of what I've heard is true, it will set back Penn State football 50+ years

Which would be, if I am not mistaken, about roughly the time Joe Paterno started building the program.
posted by localroger at 6:01 PM on July 22, 2012


Well then.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 6:20 AM on July 23, 2012


The NCAA has spoken.

- $60 million fine.
- 4 year postseason ban
- Reduction in scholarships from 25 to 15 for 4 years
- Vacate all wins from 1998 to 2011.

Any current or incoming scholarship football player can transfer with no 1 year wait to play.
posted by COD at 6:26 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow, that seems pretty substantial! These things are always a bit arbitrary, and I'm sure we can imagine ways it could have been better, but that's not window dressing.

(I am just a bit confused by the scholarship reduction, or I have to think about what the implications are.)
posted by OmieWise at 6:49 AM on July 23, 2012


- Vacate all wins from 1998 to 2011.

Now yer talkin'.
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:50 AM on July 23, 2012


- 4 year postseason ban

Beyond the obvious of no bowl games, that's going to make it very difficult for Penn State to recruit a "winning" head coach. Four years without postseason play can be a career killer.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 6:53 AM on July 23, 2012


CBrachyrhynchos: " Beyond the obvious of no bowl games, that's going to make it very difficult for Penn State to recruit a "winning" head coach. Four years without postseason play can be a career killer."

I think you have that backwards. Bill O'Brien, when he takes the field this fall, will have the chance to be Penn State's first "winning" head coach since 1998. And he doesn't have an out in his contract, so I think the chances that he rides out the program's 4+ years in the wilderness are pretty high.
posted by tonycpsu at 6:56 AM on July 23, 2012


Joe Paterno, winningest coach in college football history

FTFY, idolaters.
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:58 AM on July 23, 2012


I'd like to have seen the NCAA force the adoption of the Clery Act by the athletic department as well, though I don't really know if that's within their purview. Don't see why not, though.
posted by rtha at 7:15 AM on July 23, 2012


Can someone offer a breakdown for the non-football crowd on how this ruling is more/less severe than the "death penalty" option? Is $60 million a lot of money to a program like this? Does vacating wins affect the records of other teams?
posted by mikepop at 7:24 AM on July 23, 2012


a friend of mine asked me: seems to me that from the freeh report, the only thing implicating joe in the coverup was a couple emails to the president, which didn't even include joe. is that right?


i haven't had time to read it. is this true? my understanding was that joe knew about the 1998 incident in 1998 when the investigation was happening and then in 2001 when mcquery came to him, he still didn't do anything beyond tell spanier.
was that considered the reporting that needs to happen when someone witnesses child abuse in PA?


is there evidence the joe was actually involved in the coverup activities or some larger conspiracy or is the report just postulating that he was?

i am very firmly in the camp that whatever it was he was wrong and should have done more, but in the convo with my friend i realized i've not been trying to find too many details and mostly going on what i've been reading here because the whole thing is a bit overwhelming.
posted by sio42 at 7:27 AM on July 23, 2012


I'd like to have seen the NCAA force the adoption of the Clery Act by the athletic department as well, though I don't really know if that's within their purview. Don't see why not, though.

Well, I think they probably thought that adoption of the Act is a Federal mandate, and it already has penalties associated with it. I have little doubt that the athletic department will adopt the Act, both because Penn State will demand it and because the Dept of Ed will demand it. I'm actually glad not to see that in the NCAA stuff because it would have been window dressing since the real enforcement for that will come from elsewhere (and it will come).
posted by OmieWise at 7:28 AM on July 23, 2012


mikepop: "Can someone offer a breakdown for the non-football crowd on how this ruling is more/less severe than the "death penalty" option? Is $60 million a lot of money to a program like this? Does vacating wins affect the records of other teams?"

It's really hard to compare this punishment to the one handed to SMU in the late 1980s. For one thing, SMU had a long pattern of NCAA violations, so they had many sanctions that were imposed prior to the so-called "death penalty", whereas Penn State has had an exceptionally clean record prior to these events, so they're being punished in one fell swoop. The original concept of the "death penalty" was the NCAA's harshest punishment reserved for repeat offenders, but in this case, the NCAA had to improvise, because there's no playbook for imposing this kind of discipline for this kind of conduct.

The scholarship losses and bowl bans are on the same order of magnitude, though SMU lost more than a season's worth of games. Arguably, the NCAA didn't force Penn State to cancel games because it would negatively affect other schools. In terms of the impact on the program financially, I think that really depends on whether the program can recover after serving the 4-year sentence. $60 million for the PSU program of old would be a stiff but surmountable sum, $60 million for a team that goes 2-9 playing in front of 60,000 instead of 110,000 is a different story.

Vacated wins do not affect the other teams' losses.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:50 AM on July 23, 2012


Thanks for the breakdown. I see a new thread has opened for this as well so I'll follow along the analysis there.
posted by mikepop at 7:58 AM on July 23, 2012


I don't completely understand the 25 to 10 scholarships thing. There are roughly 100 players on a college football team. Do teams really only have 25 scholarships to give out? I would think at least 60 or more players would be on scholarship.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 8:01 AM on July 23, 2012


is there evidence the joe was actually involved in the coverup activities or some larger conspiracy or is the report just postulating that he was?

I can't tell from your whole comment whether you're raising concerns because you'd like to know more, or if you really think that Paterno is getting an unfair shake here. But assuming you're not being disingenuous with your question, the answer is that yes, Paterno was deeply involved in the cover-up, appears to have gone to bat for Sandusky, and absolutely didn't give a shit about the victims. Others were arguably worse because they had more direct power, or, rather, their jobs were to administer, so they left more of a paper trail. You can read the timeline (big print, lots of white space) of the Freeh Report. It runs from page 19 through page 30. It will show where Paterno was explicitly involved.
posted by OmieWise at 8:07 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


ah ok.

yeah, totally just curious. i don't think anyone's getting an unfair shake. they should be getting shook more.

i'll have to take a look at that later.

i honestly haven't looked at the report because i'm just already so sickened that i didn't want to know more.
posted by sio42 at 8:11 AM on July 23, 2012


There's actually a post on the front page about this, in case, like me, you spend too much time just looking at Recent Activity.
posted by OmieWise at 8:19 AM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Can someone offer a breakdown for the non-football crowd on how this ruling is more/less severe than the "death penalty" option?

Well, now they have to play with years of fewer scholarships, no hope for post-season money, and a massive debt they won't easily repay with TV and bowl money (which the Big Ten stripped from them). If they took a one year death penalty, they could reconstitute the football program pretty quickly and just let the media firestorm blow over.

This has reduced Penn State to a second-tier football team for the next four years. It'll take them a decade, maybe more, to dig out. Indiana took a four year probation and never dug their way out. Oklahoma State had a five year probation, and it took them 20 years (and a sugar daddy in Boone Pickens) to get back to where they were in the late 80s.

I think, on the whole, it's fair. Giving Penn State the death penalty ultimately didn't serve anyone's best interest. Forcing them to play every year as a diminished power, understaffed, without the big checks coming in from the Big Ten for bowls, without the kids from Florida or California or Texas listening to Penn State's offers of scholarships... it's seriously brutal.
posted by dw at 10:24 AM on July 23, 2012


This has reduced Penn State to a second-tier football team for the next four years. It'll take them a decade, maybe more, to dig out. Indiana took a four year probation and never dug their way out. Oklahoma State had a five year probation, and it took them 20 years (and a sugar daddy in Boone Pickens) to get back to where they were in the late 80s.

The jury's still out on USC, but given how many people are picking them to be serious contenders for the national championship while still under sanction, much less under probation, this might not be the death knell that people are claiming it is.
posted by Etrigan at 6:09 PM on July 23, 2012


dw: Can someone offer a breakdown for the non-football crowd on how this ruling is more/less severe than the "death penalty" option?

Well, now they have to play with years of fewer scholarships, no hope for post-season money, and a massive debt they won't easily repay with TV and bowl money (which the Big Ten stripped from them). If they took a one year death penalty, they could reconstitute the football program pretty quickly and just let the media firestorm blow over.
Yup, I was thinking about this last night.

IF they had a death penalty, the first game AFTER the death penalty was lifted would be a guaranteed sell-out, no questions asked, even if they played a private girls' school 8th-grade team.

This way, by the time the punishment restrictions end, they'll have stacked up an impressive record of "meh", and they might be interested in playing that girls school to hone their mettle.

Some hyperbole, but still... This punishment will allow a serious rust to grow where a shine once was.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:27 AM on July 24, 2012


Not sure if it's been mentioned, but I see two more nice things about not giving Penn State the death penalty.

1. It demythologizes the football program. A few smacks by small-town schools would be nice. An 0-10 Big Ten record can't be erased. You shut the program down and bring it back later, they will still probably suck, but this is more in-your-face.

2. I think there would be a certain badge of honor in getting the death penalty, in the same vein of taking your ball and going home (i.e. if we can't play the want we want to play (by protecting known rapists), we won't play at all).

Keeping the program alive and crippled makes it ripe for takeover by actual student athletes who don't care so much about winning. It lets those kids establish a strong, positive culture around the football program.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:30 AM on July 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Maybe this has been covered in the other thread, by I think a real issue here was the NCAA's legal authority to impose sanctions. I think it's a significant victory, of sorts, for the NCAA that Penn State signed the consent decree. My preferred (and wholly unrealistic) outcome in this case is Penn State itself saying, "We're not going to have a football program anymore. It's clear that we have made athletics too important. We're an academic institution, and that's what we're going to focus on from here on out." A close second is the State of Pennsylvania or some other governmental agency using the power of its purse strings or some other leverage to force Penn State to this same decision.

The NCAA wouldn't have this authority, though, so a fair question is "How far could the NCAA have gone without losing a legal battle with Penn State over the legitimacy of its sanctions?" So the spectrum of NCAA actions didn't range between "doing nothing" and "completely ending the Penn State football progam." The spectrum was probably between doing nothing and doing something very close to what they did. In that sense, I think the NCAA did a pretty good job. Their action was swift, it was significant, and it was accepted by the university.
posted by MoonOrb at 10:40 AM on July 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Former Penn State University president Graham Spanier said he will soon begin working for the federal government on projects related to national security. Outrageous. He should not be rewarded with a public position of trust. I can only hope public pressure will come to bear and he will move on to other, non-taxpayer-supported endeavors.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 11:41 AM on July 28, 2012


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