Time to wash our hands of Penn State

To paraphrase Denny Green, Joe Paterno was who we thought he was… assuming we thought he covered up for pedophiles.

Everything that’s wrong with bigtime college sports was on display for all to see this morning when Louis Freeh, the former FBI director, released his report on the investigation into how it is young boys could be abused for so long in the athletic facilities of Penn State, and have so many people look the other way.

The answer was shockingly simple: sports was more important to important people than protecting kids.

Here’s the full report. Here’s the full news conference:

Joe Paterno, the legendary coach of Penn State, was implicated in the cover-up, which has to now, not enraged many Penn State fans as much as the dastardly questioning of his integrity has. If Freeh to be believed, Paterno had none to speak of.

In State College, Pennsylvania this afternoon, they’re still in denial.

“They’re tarnishing his record,” Penn State sophomore Chris Bloom told the Associated Press today.

As if that matters.

At least Nike has more of a clue. It announced today it’s removing Paterno’s name from a child care center at its headquarters.

  • Jim G

    We’ll know if the report has any meaningful meaning if/when they take down the statue of Paterno.

  • Dylan Kvasnicka

    I think all sex scandal nonsense aside, the reports brings light to an all-too-overlooked topic (and I am pulling this quote from within the report from msnbc): “A culture of reverence for the football program that is ingrained at all levels of the campus community.” I think this applies many sports programs across the country, including the U of M, where football players are given, from what I understand, free use of mopeds while playing for the Gophers. Why should there be so much given to these individuals and so much reverence shown when they are not even producing a winning record? Because it pleases alumni, who will be more inclined to give and support, likely due to an almost “nationalistic” mindset towards their alma mater.

  • Suzanne
  • JSK

    In light of this report, does this open up the potential for civil litigation by the victims against the university and the state?

  • Dean Carlson

    Dylan,

    UMN Football players are not given free use of mopeds.

  • Dylan Kvasnicka

    Thanks for the clarification, Dean. I had heard this directly from a football player, but people do tend to embellish the truth on occasion.

  • Josiah

    “Sex Scandal” is very different from “Sexual Abuse”.

    I think that the terms matter.

    This is not a story of people covering up for someone hiring his mistress, or having an affair with another consenting adult… this was a number of people covering for someone that was abusing children.

  • Dylan Kvasnicka

    Abuse, you are correct; my apologies for typing my post quickly. However, I was hoping for thoughtful discourse regarding the aggrandising of athletic programs, both scholastic as well as professional, rather than nit-picking my choice of words.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Dylan – Your points are important and well stated. That said, the distinction between “sex scandal” and “sex abuse” is an important one as well, not nit-picking.

    I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that those who are primarily concerned about Paterno’s tarnished legacy think in terms of “scandal”, rather than the criminal, diabolical “abuse” that it was.

  • Josiah

    Dylan,

    I agree with you. It is a huge problem when our culture is willing to give individuals a “pass” on reprehensible behavior because of their skill on the field or court.

    This also extends to preferential treatment that is often given to student athletes in high school. How do we change a sports drunk culture that is willing to extend a different set of rules for athletes?

  • Bob Collins

    It wasn’t sexual abuse, either. It was sexual assault by pedophiles.

  • Dylan Kvasnicka

    Bob, I wonder if you wouldn’t mind elaborating. I guess my first infraction was not editing my post. Now I confess I feel ignorant in my lack of understanding in the distinction between abuse and assault. I could research the distinction myself, but I’d like to hear your thoughts.

  • DanA

    Hopefully, widespread coverage of this story will teach others to take responsibility and prevent child abuse. It is disgraceful and indefensible to not act to protect children from known abusers, regardless of the abuser’s position in society.

  • Suzanne

    Dylan, Maybe this will clear it up: A “sex scandal” is John Edwards and Rielle Hunter. Sexual assault against children is a horrific crime. Covering it up by such a massive, state-funded institution is just mind-boggling and too sick for words.

  • Dylan Kvasnicka

    My initial word choice of scandal was simply a “haste makes waste” error; I am aware of the distinction between scandal and abuse. What I would like to know what constitutes assault versus abuse? Does the distinction boil down to legal definition? Are we referring to straight denotation? Perhaps am seeing terms as more synonymous and less as distinct legal terms?

  • John O.

    I would hope other universities take the opportunity to recognize the risks associated with allowing their monied athletic programs to operate under their own set of rules with limited (or zero) accountability.

    Until it is gone,the statue outside Beaver Stadium will serve as a monument to what’s wrong with today’s big-time, big-money college athletics programs.

    Finally, if my memory is correct, PSU played as an “independent” program until joining the Big Ten Conference not that many years ago. If I had anything to say about it, I’d make them independent again.

  • Bruce Hilditch

    Sexual assault on children is a serious crime. Covering up a serious crime is a serious crime of its own. Criminal indictments of university officials are probably in order. Civil penalties by the victims against the perpetrators and the university should also be possible. Administrative penalties by the athletic conference and the NCAA should be significant.

    The exalted role of athletics is always explained by its fans as due to its use as a “role model”. OK, if it is to be a symbol, let it now be used accordingly.

  • Tim Roesler

    I believe it is right to point out that St. John’s Minnesota’s football coach John Gagliardi owns the college football record for wins with 478. Joe Paterno’s Dividion I record is 409, which now many feel has an asterisk. Coach Gagliardi achieved his record coaching on the sidelines (vs. Paterno who coached for several years from the pressbox). Coach Gagliardi achieved his without the ability to offer scholarships. And, oh by the way he is still coaching. At this moment we should be very proud of Minnesota’s own.

  • Bob Collins

    // he exalted role of athletics is always explained by its fans as due to its use as a “role model”.

    Yesterday’s news contrasts nicely with yesterday’s bonus video on 5×8.