Things keep getting worse and worse at Penn State.
Former FBI director Louis Freeh unveiled his findings from the investigation into the negligence of school officials regarding the offenses of its disgraced former assistant football coach, Jerry Sandusky. The results are damning.
Just weeks after Sandusky's conviction, this Freeh Report has highlighted ongoing willful negligence by multiple persons within the athletic department, university, and law enforcement. Freeh's independent investigation into the school's infraction highlights multiple liabilities and points to multiple offenders who opted for self-preservation over justice, allowing a terrible situation to become worse, much worse.
Here are a few of the "highlights" from the Freeh Report:
* "The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized."
Although aware of the 1998 criminal investigation, Joe Paterno, school President Graham Spainer, Vice-President Gary Shultz, and athletic director Tim Curley took no action to set up further precautions and protections against the continued abuses.
* "Based on the evidence, the only known, intervening factor between the decision made on February 25, 2001 by Messrs. Spanier, Curley and Schulz to report the incident to the Department of Public Welfare, and then agreeing not to do so on February 27th, was Mr. Paterno's February 26th conversation with Mr. Curley."
Freeh claims that the administrators discussed the option of contacting child services to report Sandusky, however this idea was scrapped after a meeting between Paterno and Curley in February of 2001. Curleysent an email saying he was not comfortable with the ideas of turning Sandusky in.
* "It is more reasonable to conclude that, in order to avoid the consequences of bad publicity, the most powerful leaders at Penn State University – Messrs. Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley – repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky's child abuse from the authorities, the Board of Trustees, Penn State community, and the public at large. Although concern to treat the child abuser humanely was expressly stated, no such sentiments were ever expressed by them for Sandusky's victims."
Basically, Penn State was fully aware of Sandusky's transgressions, weighed the pros and cons of reporting the offender to authorities, and opted to bury the information to protect their image, thus allowing the abuse to continue.
So, although Sandusky has already been locked up, the institutional verdict is now in. Penn State fostered a culture of indifference regarding these extremely serious and egregious allegations. From school officials, coaches, and even the janitors, these offenses started at the top, and trickled downward and outward. Who knows how many of the abuse victims may have been spared trauma had these incidents been handled appropriately.
However, now that the facts have been unveiled, and the crude and unfortunate reality has been exposed, the remaining injustices from this malfeasance can be addressed. There is wide-ranging disagreement about what actions should be taken in order response to the gross negligence within Happy Valley. The most common proposal is the NCAA Death Penalty.
The NCAA has only instituted the Death Penalty (barring a school from participation in a sport for at least 1 year) 5 times, and only in football once. These season-long bans have always been instituted for ongoing NCAA violations, not criminal or civil infractions. However, the seriousness of these crimes, as well as the participation from the football and athletic leadership at Penn State have raised questions of how these infractions should be settled. Although a football ban does seem to be an adequate punishment, those who would be hurt the most are the ones who had the least to do with the crimes. Current players, vendors, and small businsses near Penn State would be the collateral damage of this penalty.
I don't know how the NCAA should handle this situation, but I do know that examples needs to be made of Penn State, Joe Paterno's legacy, and the lack of culpability in these football factory schools. The punishment needs to be fair, swift, and ensure that such dispicable offenses and conduct NEVER happen again.
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