The moral of the Jerry Sandusky saga is this: Pennsylvania State University, as an institution, decided that protecting Joe Paterno’s reputation and winning a few more football games was more important than stopping the ongoing rape of young boys.
Clearly, the leadership of Penn State knew of several instances when Mr. Sandusky is alleged to have sexually assaulted boys. The allegation of child rape in the University’s football facilities, the subsequent bureaucratic non-response, and possible perjury by members of the university’s upper leadership team are all simply horrifying. And yet, the University has long been guilty of believing its own marketing hype, that it was morally superior to other institutions, particularly in the area of intercollegiate athletics. Consequently, although leaders knew there was an on-going grand jury investigation of Mr. Sandusky, and that a local paper was closely following and reporting on this investigation, they simply ignored, and possibly fueled, the sickness operating freely within their own institution.
This is not closure for anyone in Happy Valley. And the lid covering Penn State’s Pandora’s Box of Horrors has only begun to be lifted off. We have yet to see what the Freh report, the on-going federal investigation, as well as the ensuing civil litigation will all bring. Penn State has publicly stated it wishes to secure PRIVATE settlements with all potential victims. This will be expensive, but it might not be particularly just. If the settlements are private, it will let Penn State off the hook for changing the culture of the institution.
And it’s the culture of Penn State that needs to change. Clearly, some students, employees, and alumni just do NOT get it. They believe that Paterno et al have been given a bum rap by the press. These individuals have yet to understand that the leadership (Paterno, Spanier, Curley and Swartz) preferred that young boys be raped than the institution be subjected to scrutiny, and especially the franchise that is football. Until they are educated to understand that harsh truth, I fear very little will change. As I noted in November,
It is, to a large extent, an Arendtian moment. Evil isn’t a drooling monster with horns and pitchfork who shows up on your doorstep. Instead, evil is the most winning football coach in Division 1 history who looks like grandpa but, by failing to act in a meaningful way, condoned the rape of an unknown 10-year old boy by default. And we have similar acts of evil by other members of Penn State’s leadership.