The biggest question coming out of the horrible child sexual abuse situation involving an assistant football coach at Pennsylvania State University is how this could have happened and gone on for so long without someone speaking up and demanding legal action and punishment.
The just-released report of the in-depth investigation tells how top university officials and legendary football coach Joe Paterno failed to act when they heard reports of child sexual abuse by a member of the football coaching staff.
Again, why didn’t any of these university leaders speak up or contact police?
An individual close to the situation said this sordid story demonstrates the importance of football to Penn State. In fact, although Penn State is looked upon as a good, solid university, it is recognized primarily for its football program, not its academic/research excellence. “For example,” this individual said, “why do you think Penn State was taken into the Big 10 Conference? It was for their football. It happens; look at the Nebraska move to the Big 10.”
Have college sports become this strong and important? Are they so influential that the college president, vice president and athletic director and one of the nation’s most outstanding football coaches all knew of the abuse situation and said nothing for fear it might damage the football program?
Many major college coaches display serious fault such as hot tempers, foul language, recruiting violations, physically abusing players and, unfortunately, cheating in their personal lives. But it is almost impossible to believe any coach would cover up the presence of a suspected pedophile on his coaching staff. According to the shocking report, the actions of the assistant coach covered a period of 14 years and involved a number of young boys. How could something like this go on at one of the nation’s most visible and storied college football programs?
Now the question is what is the NCAA going to do about it? What action will it take against Penn State and its athletic program? What will the Big 10 Conference do? For example, how will NCAA officials weigh punishments for recruiting violations against a coach molesting boys?
Could the actions of Penn State coach Paterno, assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, President Graham Spanier, Vice President Gary Schultz and Athletic Director Tim Curley be the proverbial straws that break the camel’s back when it comes to this nation’s growing obsession with college sports?
Or will this sorry situation be forgotten within a short time because the most important thing on many college campuses is a winning athletic program — no matter the cost?