Sean Webb discusses Penn State scandal

Originally aired Nov. 9, 2011 on KNBU-FM.<em>Originally aired Nov. 9, 2011 on KNBU-FM.</em> Originally aired Nov. 9, 2011 on KNBU-FM.

Jerry Sandusky, former Penn State defensive coordinator, was arrested this weekend and charged with 40 felony counts on allegations he molested at least 8 young boys. He had contact with these kids through his charity, The Second Mile.

Athletic Director Tim Curley and Senior VP of Business and Finance Gary Schultz are no longer in their current positions after being charged with perjury in the 2002 grand jury investigation into this matter.

In 2002, a graduate assistant claims to have seen Sandusky performing inappropriate acts with a 10 year old boy in the Penn State Locker Room Shower. He told his dad, and they contacted the head coach the next day.<br/>

The focus has now turned to Joe Paterno, the famed head football coach at Penn State. How much did he know? Did he do everything he could? And the big question right now, should he lose his job?

The instance that especially has Paterno in hot water is the 2002 incident, because Paterno was, and he admitted this during the 2002 grand jury investigation, told of what happened, but the only thing he did was tell the AD. There was never an attempt to contact police by anyone, Paterno, Curley, Schultz, or University President Graham Spanier. Linda Kelly, Attorney General for the State of Pennsylvania, said this,

“Despite a powerful eyewitness statement about the sexual assault of a child, this incident was not reported to any law enforcement or child protective agency, as required by Pennsylvania law.”

Jason Whitlock, a popular columnist, albeit one who is known to stir the pot when it comes to the issues in sports, brought to question Paterno’s actions as well, saying in his article on FoxSports.com,

“Rather than immediately demand that Sandusky appear and explain himself, the world-famous molder of men passed the responsibility along to the athletic director, who has far less real power than Paterno. Rather than call the police, Paterno seemingly gathered as little information as possible and slipped back into his JoePa facade.”

That is a pretty strong statement. And even if you don’t agree with everything Whitlock said in that quote, think about the fact that it does not appear that anyone at Penn State ever made Sandusky explain his actions or defend himself against what he was accused of.<br/>

Roxanne Jones, a former Penn State cheerleader, had this to say on CNN.com,

“It’s absolutely unforgivable if Paterno did nothing but pass the information up the chain. In fact, even after this incident was reported, Sandusky still had the keys to the complex and free rein to bring boys he mentored at his nonprofit foundation, the Second Mile, to visit the campus and hang out around the sports facility.”

He still had keys to facilities? Even with all the allegations and the grand jury investigation? For nine years after the grand jury investigation, Sandusky still had access to Penn State facilities and was able to bring more children into those facilities? Who knows what else happened in those nine years. These actions look like a group of people swept a problem under the rug, trying to forget about it, hoping the danger had passed by, but apparently it hasn’t, the danger is just rearing its head. Paterno released a statement, this was his response to the allegations presented against his former defensive coordinator,

“If true, the nature and amount of charges made are very shocking to me and all Penn Staters. If this is true, we were fooled, along with scores of professionals trained in such things, and we grieve for the victims and their families. They are in our prayers.”

Fooled? Shocking? Is this what JoePa really feels? Or is this the politically correct thing to say? Is this what everyone wants to hear? I find it hard to believe that these accusations, at least one he admits he was aware of, would fool him or shock him at all.<br/>

Paterno’s actions in 2002 are not the only one’s under fire, so are the actions of the grad assistant turned recruiting coordinator who witnessed the event in the shower, Mike McQuery.<br/>

Jason Whitlock said,

“He [McQuery] allegedly saw a naked old man raping a naked young boy, and McQueary ran out of the locker room. He took no action to protect the boy?”

Granted, but I understand, and I think you out there listening understand that as a human being, running across that kind of situation, the natural instinct is to run away, but instead of stepping in, or for that matter, immediately alerting authorities, McQuery called his dad and waited a full day before telling Paterno.<br/>

The mother of the victim also has come out with words about her feelings after this happened to her son,

“I don’t even have words to talk about the betrayal that I feel. (The graduate assistant) was a grown man, and he saw a boy being sodomized. . . . He ran and called his daddy?”

It’s different to hear the words of a victim’s mother. A whole heck of a lot different than a police commissioner or a public statement made by a coach trying to protect his image in the face of disaster. <br/>

As protests rage in State College, Pennsylvania, one sign serves as my inspiration for what I have written and shared tonight. A mom on Penn State’s campus, protesting with her 10 month old son and husband, carried a sign that said this,

“All that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”

I believe that those words are the essence of the raging battle at Penn State University. Good men, like Joe Paterno, a man who has run a program that, up until now, has met little problem with the NCAA, did nothing.

A student at a rally outside Paterno’s house last night wore a shirt that said “Joe Knows Football”. And here is the problem I find with that. No one is doubting Joe Paterno’s football knowledge. The guy has won more football games that any coach in the history of division 1 football. Football has nothing to do with the problem. Our society is one that prizes winning, immortalizes coaches, and believes that winning and athletic success are more important than integrity, honesty, and fair play. We protect the coach, the immortal figure, instead of the innocence of children, for dollar signs, recognition, or whatever else gratifies our human lust for power. We’ve seen it all over in sports lately, with recruiting violations at Ohio State and Miami, but as Roxanne Jones puts it,

“Exploiting dozens and raping young boys could never compare to the minor infractions of boosters buying a car for a player or a player selling his autographed football jersey for a few bucks.”

I believe this puts a lot in perspective. What’s more important? A competitive edge, money? Or the lives of our children? I’m not a parent, but I know that when I am, Lord willing, I will break every bone in my body to protect them. And it angers me that others would rather increase their own standing than protect someone else.<br/>

Bill Noonan, the State Police Commissioner, said,

”I think you have the moral responsibility, anyone. Not whether you’re a football coach or a university president or the guy sweeping the building. I think you have a moral responsibility to call us.”

Did Joe Paterno have a moral responsibility? That remains to be seen. If you think that college athletics should only revolve around money and power, than no, you may not. But if you believe that the lives of our children are important, and that them and their innocence should be protected against those who compromise them, then yes, Joe Paterno did have a moral responsibility.

Which brings me to today. Joe Paterno released another statement early this morning. In it, he says that he wishes he had done more, and that at the end of the season he will retire. He also says this,

“I have come to work every day for the last 61 years with one clear goal in mind: To serve the best interests of this university and the young men who have been entrusted to my care. I have the same goal today.”

Pause. Could this be another instance where the real problem shows its face again? Is this where we once again see the power of a name and the power of power itself in its truest sense? Having the best interest of the University in mind is great and something that JoePa has obviously lived out in the way he has run his program, but again, at what cost is protecting a name the most important thing?

When he told his team about his plan to retire, Paterno broke down in tears. There is no doubt in my mind that he is sorry that he didn’t do more and that he truly feels sorry for those affected by these events. Joe Paterno will forever be held in high regard by me for the football coach that he was and is, the leader he was and is, and the example he will always be. Unfortunately, the story cannot stop there. Joe Paterno still has some questions to answer. This story is far from over, and at the center of it is Paterno, a legend walking into his ring of fire. Will his legend be tarnished? I hope not, but the truth will come out, and when it does, the legend of Joe Paterno may hang in the balance.

“Joe Knows Football”. Yes, Joe does know football, but we must remember that football is just a game, and that honesty, integrity, and the value of other people must come first.