Opinion Corner: Penn St. mess based in moneyNow that Jerry Sandusky has been convicted I thought it might be an appropriate time to look back on the Penn State scandal.
By: Mark Schuttenhelm, for the Sun, The Jamestown Sun
Now that Jerry Sandusky has been convicted I thought it might be an appropriate time to look back on the Penn State scandal.
What exactly happened up there at Happy Valley? Why was Sandusky’s abhorrent behavior allowed to continue unchecked for so long? How could Joe Paterno, a coach with a squeaky clean reputation, wind up in the middle of this mess? Ditto the Athletic Department at Penn State.
Most puzzling, to me at least, is the fact that a graduate assistant who would one day go on to become an assistant coach, walks in on Sandusky sexually abusing a young boy in the showers at Penn State and turns away, simply telling his dad that day, and Coach Paterno the next day. He doesn’t break it up? Doesn’t knock Sandusky on his butt and beat the daylights out of him? He doesn’t call the police or 911?
What in the world was going on there? Was this just an honest series of screw ups by normally upstanding people, or was there something more sinister at work here?
Many of our society’s ills can be traced back to greed and an incessant worship of the almighty buck. Most folks realize that money can buy you nearly anything in Washington D.C., and this corruption funnels all the way down to the local level.
The greed in major league baseball long ago turned away many once loyal fans, myself included. I’d much rather watch Jimmie baseball and softball, or perhaps the College World Series, rather than the cry baby millionaires in the major leagues.
Big time college sports have also been infected with this greed, and it’s gotten worse in recent years. A few years ago who would have thought it possible that Nebraska would leave the Big 12 Conference? How about Syracuse, West Virginia, and Pittsburgh leaving the Big East?
Years and years of tradition, such as Syracuse-Georgetown basketball, are being thrown in the garbage so schools can grab more bucks from competing conferences. College teams are now switching conferences in such numbers, it’s almost as bad as free agency in baseball.
So where am I going with all this?
Let’s take a quick look at the timeline of the Penn State debacle.
On March 1 of 2002, the aforementioned Mike McQueary finds Sandusky sexually abusing a young boy in the showers at the Penn State football facility. He tells only his dad that day.
The next day he calls and meets with Coach Paterno and reports what he has seen. The next day, March 3 of 2002, Paterno calls Penn State athletic director Tim Curley and passes the story on to him. Later in the month, McQueary is called into a meeting with AD Curley and Senior Vice President for Finance and Business Gary Schultz, where he reports what he saw. They tell him ‘they’ll look into it.’ Whoa! Look into it ? And let’s back up here. Senior Vice President for Finance and Business? What in the world does this guy have to do with the rape of an underage boy? And where was the otherwise upstanding Joe Paterno in the midst of all this?
At this point we have to connect some dots and engage in a bit of educated speculation.
One scenario with merit is that these suits, maybe in conjunction with Joe Paterno, did a little cost-benefit analysis on the situation. The right thing to do, of course, would have been to turn this deviant in and let law enforcement and the Attorney General do their thing. But what would a scandal of this magnitude cost the University in lost contributions, public opinion, recruiting? It seems that they opted to keep the thing under wraps, try and contain it inside the little town of State College, and hope the scandal would never see the light of day.
Could it be that the incessant need to keep millions of dollars flowing into a sports program like Penn State’s led these men to protect a guy like Sandusky and endanger more innocent boys in the process? We may never know, but that’s my take on it.
Schuttenhelm is a frequent contributor to the Opinion Corner