Penn State deserves death penalty for Sandusky cover-up

The problem isn't just what Jerry Sandusky (left) did but what Joe Paterno and his superiors didn't do. (AP photo)

Joe Paterno and other Penn State officials enabled the actions of Jerry Sandusky. (AP photo)

(Updated: 12:45 p.m.)

If we make a big deal about a college football program playing dumb when a recruit takes free shoes or tattoos, or his family lives in a house rent free, how can we look the other way when evidence screams that one of the nation’s most powerful universities enabled a pedophile?

How can we sit through something so sick and vile as the testimony in the Jerry Sandusky trial and conclude that this was a one-source scandal worthy of only one individual or entity suffering consequences?

Penn State should not be allowed to play another football game. It put sport, image and fundraising above everything else. That is what every cheater in college athletics does, and because of that it deserves the NCAA’s “death penalty.”

Southern Methodist University, one of the nation’s top academic schools, saw its football program given the death penalty in 1987 because it put athletic success above what so obviously was considered morally acceptable. Isn’t it now clear that Penn State did the exact same thing?

In fact, what the powers Penn State did was worse. Their actions involved not materialistic goods but defenseless victims who will suffer for the rest of their lives.

According to a 267-page report by former FBI director Louis Freeh, the four most powerful men overseeing the university and the football program – president Graham Spanier (since fired), athletic director Tim Curley (on “administrative leave,” under indictment for perjury), vice president Gary Schultz (suddenly retired, also under indictment) and the late coach, Joe Paterno (fired in what would be two months before his death) — knew far more about Sandusky’s sick perversions and abuse than they let on. They knew it far longer than they let on.

And here’s the punctuation, your honor: They “concealed critical facts,” according to Freeh.

There’s a term for that: cover-up.

“Our most saddening and sobering finding is the total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky’s child victims by the most senior leaders at Penn State,” Freeh stated.

We don’t need to know anything else.

When this story first broke, Paterno said, “This is not a football scandal and should not be treated as one.”

Many agreed. Many still do, including some misguided alumni and football All-Americans and probably surely those numbskull students who marched on campus, embraced Paterno’s statue on campus and protested his firing without any regard for the victims.

The problem is concluding that because Sandusky’s reprehensible acts did not lead to a competitive advantage, the football program shouldn’t pay. But the cover-up changes that. What the powers at Penn State did was beyond anything any college athletic program has ever done, beyond free clothes or free rent and academic fraud.

To hell with a free Camaro. We’re talking about sweeping allegations of a child sex offender under the rug in order to protect a school’s image, fundraising and recruiting. There is no more extreme example of a lack of institutional control.

Penn State deserves to be hit hard. That may seem unfair to the student-athletes, officials and fans who knew nothing of Sandusky’s acts or the cover-up. But that’s the case with all NCAA sanctions.

This investigation was commissioned by Penn State at a cost of $500,000 per month. So much for Freeh having some anti-Penn State agenda. The report numbers 267 pages, resulting from 430 interviews and 3.5 million emails and documents. Freeh’s staff included former prosecutors, FBI agents, police officers, attorneys and a Navy SEAL.

Freeh said he found “more red flags than you could count, over a long period of time.” He said the leaders at Penn State had a “callous and shocking disregard for child victims.”

He said an “inference could be drawn” that the school was trying to protect the football program, noting, “bad publicity affects a panorama of different events, including the brand of Penn State, the reputation of coaches [and] the ability to do fundraising.”

He said Paterno was not being singled out, but at one point declared: “The facts are the facts. He was an integral part of the act to conceal.”

Emails reveal Paterno was clearly following the school’s internal investigation into allegations of a 1998 assault of a young boy by Sandusky in the Penn State locker room showers, something Paterno publicly denied. The same school leaders “proposed a plan of action” after learning of a 2001 incident reported by an assistant coach, but then decided against informing authorities.

“The most powerful leaders at Penn State … repeatedly concealed critical facts,” Freeh concluded.

The “Tone at the Top” of the school, he said, dissuaded school janitors from coming forward after witnessing incidents: “The janitors were afraid of being fired for reporting a powerful football coach.”

Sandusky will spend the rest of his life in prison. He could’ve been stopped sooner. But Paterno and the powers at Penn State were too concerned about the ramifications, off and on the field. That makes it a football scandal, as well.

By Jeff Schultz

810 comments Add your comment

AugustaFAN

July 12th, 2012
10:25 am

Lance

July 12th, 2012
10:27 am

I agree. Colorado coaches and adminstrators allowed and covered up rapes and sexual assaults by football players during Bill McCartney and Gary Barnett’s tenures.

As the father of a high school cheerleader with aspirations to do it in college, isn;t the greatest fear that the school she goes to isn’t safe because of institutional apathy?

Its a shame Joe Paterno died before spending time in prison for what he did. He enabled a pedophile for decades. The thousands of Penn State alums and supporters who don’t see the outrage deserve to have no football teams for at least a year, if not longer.

candle1976

July 12th, 2012
10:27 am

Agreed. This goes way above the usual NCAA infractions. If this isn’t ‘lack of institutional control’, then what is? Are you seriously telling me that free shoes, paid players, and all is worse than this? Hell no. Then again, this is the NCAA and money rules over principle – always.

Jeffrey

July 12th, 2012
10:27 am

Enter your comments hereWelcome back shultzie First. And yes death penalty.

Dawgjunky

July 12th, 2012
10:27 am

College football is more complicated and more of a money making business than it was back in the 80’s when SMU got the ax. I just don’t see that the death penalty, rightly deserved or not, will ever be on the table for Penn State.

joe

July 12th, 2012
10:31 am

Thank you. We need the media to hound this until it happens

Steve

July 12th, 2012
10:32 am

the NCAA needs to make a decision on this quickly, before the fall football season. like my Facebook page Death Penalty for Penn State Football and make the NCAA hold Penn State accountable

atomic-dawg

July 12th, 2012
10:34 am

I do not agree. These players and past players had nothing to do with this. Just send everybody to jail for as long as they breath. This was crime committed at the facility not breaking ncaa rules to gain an advantage.

Dr. Phil

July 12th, 2012
10:35 am

As a former professor at two state universities, I can say the the attitude of administrators at Penn State exists elsewhere, hopefully to a lesser degree. College presidents earn obscene amounts of money. Our own dear Mike Adams has taken home over a million dollars a year in pay an benefits and even set up a retirement program for Mrs. Adams. There is too much money floating around, and university presidents have become policitians rather than educators. The Penn State administrators have certainly behaved like politicians of the worst sort, yet the public is powerless to vote them out. Maybe if Curley, et. al. do some hard jail time, it might make others take note.

atomic-dawg

July 12th, 2012
10:38 am

I do not agree. These players and past players had nothing to do with this. Just send everybody Guilty of turning there head to jail for as long as they breath. This was crime committed at the facility not breaking ncaa rules to gain an advantage.

BRW

July 12th, 2012
10:39 am

This absolutely was done “to gain an advantage”. The advantage of keeping this quiet about their perfect little institution.
Think of the negative publicity they were able to avoid for over 10 years.
No other reason to hide it.
Death I say.

gomdawg

July 12th, 2012
10:39 am

I CAN FILL THE PAIN FOR THESE YOUNG BOYS AND FAMILY , WITH THAT SAID I HATE IT FOR THE YOUNG MEN AT PENN ST. THAT ARE FOOTBALL PLAYER, BUT PENN STATE HAS GOT TO GET THE DEATH PENALTY.

R. Stroz

July 12th, 2012
10:40 am

When this story initially “broke,” I called for the death penalty. I’m glad to see others agree.

NW ATL 4 LIFE

July 12th, 2012
10:42 am

So basically if that old geezer Paterno were still alive he would be indicted for perjury? Not a law expert, so someone please clarify this for me. That aside this whole scandal just reeks of the most callous and arrogant of our society. These people looked the other way while this Monster ruined these young men’s lives, who knows how many others there are out there that have not come forward. I hope Sandusky rots in hell and if there is a just god Paterno is right next to him for the rest of eternity. Any person who even tries to defend Paterno, Sandusky or the entire PSU football program must endorse this type of behavior and be perfectly fine with grown men raping boys in the shower. DISGUSTING. If PSU never plays another football game who cares??? They haven’t been close to relevant in years.

Abnerish

July 12th, 2012
10:43 am

This goes beyond the football program, doesn’t it? I wonder if the University itself will be able to survive this scandal. I can only imagine the number of zeroes on the lawsuits that will be forthcoming from the victim’s and the victim’s families. It may bankrupt the University and it’s Athletic Association. They may get the Death Penalty by default.

rational person

July 12th, 2012
10:43 am

Jeff,

Perhaps you can point me to the NCAA rules governing the sexual abuse of young boys ad the penalties for it. Whats that? Oh, they don’t exist because its a criminal matter completely outside the purview of the NCAA? Gotcha. I cannot understand that people who are advocating this position. Its like arguing that the EPA should prosecute someone for tax fraud.

SM

July 12th, 2012
10:44 am

Agreed. Is there any more obvious example of lack of institutional control than covering up a violent criminal on your staff? I agree that the current players and staff will be caught up in this, but a stand has to be made. Football success and financial success cannot come before the safety of anyone on campus.

NeoDawg

July 12th, 2012
10:45 am

In the instance of SMU – the ‘crimes’ committed were victimless. Players got paid by donors in violation of the rules – but every participant did so voluntarily. This is clearly not the case here which makes it far worse than what SMU did. I don’t think the NCAA will ever do a death penalty again, but if they do – it is difficult to imagine a better ( or should I say worse) situation for it.

Bob

July 12th, 2012
10:46 am

Paterno was senile for the last 15 years or so. So leave him alone.

Old Scratch

July 12th, 2012
10:48 am

Ole Joe took the easy way out, burn it to the ground.

X

July 12th, 2012
10:48 am

Well, you can wish in one hand and crap in the other and see which one gets filled first. Death penalty ain’t gonna happen.

Dweam Team II

July 12th, 2012
10:48 am

A-Remove all of Joe Paterno’s wins from the record books.

B-Death Penalty for PSU football…thats means no more football EVER!

C-The Big 10 drops them from the conference

PMC

July 12th, 2012
10:49 am

I don’t think it had anything to do with football though. This had to do with willful abuse of power not football Jeff.

Giving PSU the death penalty fails to punish the right people. PSU needs to be fined, Sued, and the living members of that group need to be in prison.

It’s not about PSU football. What good does them not playing for 2 years do? It only punishes students and people who had nothing to do with this crime.

Penn State may not exist as an institution after this. That’s a lot bigger than football. Covering up 14 years of abuse and giving a job to a GA to keep him quiet is more than enough to cut down football for 2 years but what good would that do ultimately?

This is bigger than sports. It’s about power, and the abuse of power, and the failure of people in power to do the right thing, because of the culture in place at the time.

TURTSNAP

July 12th, 2012
10:49 am

Well stated and very true! Hopefully the NCAA holds the University accountable for this disgrace!!

ERIC

July 12th, 2012
10:50 am

ITS FUNNY HOW THE HATERS WANT THE FOOTBALL PROGRAM SHUT DOWN BECAUSE OF THESE A$SES.SURE LETS MAKE ALL THE ATHLETES PAY FOR WHAT A FEW DID.HOW ABOUT WE GIVE THE DEATH PENALTY TO THE CATH. RELIGION FOR LETTING ABUSE TO CHILDREN GO FOR DECADES, AND ITS STILL GOING ON.

Paula

July 12th, 2012
10:50 am

Jeff, your stupidity never ceases to amaze me. An entire athletic department (and its athletes) should be punished for what a handful of people at the top of the university did, or in this case didn’t do? Wow. My guess if this were UGA your thoughts would be different.

Ramblin' Wreck

July 12th, 2012
10:50 am

As a victim of sexual abuse as a child, and as a grown man dealing with the ramifications still to this day I hope Joe Paterno burns in hell

SM

July 12th, 2012
10:51 am

@ rational You are cleary NOT being rational. A rational human being sees what went on and wants to shut down the entire university for condoning this behavior. You are, in fact, irrationally trying to justify pushing this aside so that the football program can go on. Quit looking at this as a football issue and see it as criminal cover up.

gomdawg

July 12th, 2012
10:51 am

I think that the Wins that Joe Paterno that gave him the most wins by a coach should be riped and Coach Bobby Bowden given the most wins by a living coach. Because if this was open up 10 years ago Joe would not have had the wins

ga_observer

July 12th, 2012
10:51 am

Penn State chose to permanently scar the lives of innocent children to protect their football program and the money it brings the University. Imagine that a math professor hid child rapes in order to protect the image of his chess team. Would the image of the chess team be protected to the point of hiding the brutalization of young boys? Oh, it’s the money – all the more reason to close the football program: they let greed and power obscure the sanctity of the innocence of children. They don’t deserve the money or especially the power. Unforgivable.

Brian Rose

July 12th, 2012
10:52 am

Yes, absolutely give the “death penalty.” For 2 reasons: 1) It is the only punishment Penn State will truly feel. It has plenty of money in the coffers to buy a settlement out of court, and go on its merry way. Take away Penn State’s football. 2) The devastating impacting of “the death penalty” is deserved. SMU’s program was ruined for a decade or more when it got the DP. As far as I’m concerned, the decade or more that Penn State continued to win games while allowing Sandusky to go about raping boys, is all stolen time and unjustly won victories. The only way to re-balance the scales is to take those back, by dealing Penn State the same kind of blow. Ban them for a year, let their talent flee to other schools, let them spend a decade rebuilding.

gomdawg

July 12th, 2012
10:53 am

SM the football coach cou;d have stopped this years ago simple it was wrong I hate it for Penn St. but it is what it is.

BRW

July 12th, 2012
10:56 am

The athletes there now can easily find other places to play, so quit whining they will be harmed.
IF the FB program had not been in such control of the entire institution, this would not have happened.
Make the penalty harsh enough that it stands for something.

SimpleDawg

July 12th, 2012
10:57 am

Burn ‘em all.

Sanctimonious Joe Pa knew about this from the beginning, but he wasn’t going let the world know that Linebacker U has a pedophile coaching his defense and turning out beastly tackling machines, all while he was victimizing young boys.

Never liked him….had no idea he was such a POS.

I’d vote for a 1 year suspension of football and for prosecution of those involved in the cover up.

hhh222

July 12th, 2012
10:57 am

Buzzer

July 12th, 2012
10:57 am

I have thought the same thing Mr. Schultz.
I thought this right after Paterno was fired.
We have to show some kind of response other than business as usual.
Penn state has no right to participate in football because their head man allowed children to be raped for YEARS and did …NOTHING.
Their entire culture was based on lies.

rational person

July 12th, 2012
10:58 am

@SM, no I am clearly being rational in looking at the situation, realizing that it is not covered by the jurisdiction of the NCAA and moving on. You and Jeff are being irrational by looking at the situation and deciding that you are so upset, that the NCAA should do something, even if they dont have the jurisdiction to do so, cause you so MAD.

NW ATL 4 LIFE

July 12th, 2012
10:58 am

Matt Millen should be fired……why is he given a forum to talk this nonsense???? This fool actually said that overall PSU still ran a clean program…WTF!?!?!? They facilitated child rape for at least 10 years. They hid a violent and sadistic criminal from law enforcement also, but this cat Millen has the gaul to say they still ran a clean program and Paterno should still be looked at as a guy with character. Please, they should take his statue down and take that POS to the scrap yard. ESPN needs to put Millen away ASAP…

Jon Love

July 12th, 2012
11:00 am

My blood is boiling!! I want these four scum bags involved in this coverup to experience everything these abused children did. What is reasonable punishment for these scum bags?

Bubba Bean

July 12th, 2012
11:01 am

@rational person – You have got to be kidding me! That analogy was completely illogical. THEY WERE HIDING THE FACTS TO GAIN AN EDGE! Not to mention looking the other way while the vile, perverted acts were taking place right under their noses (literally).

History has shown that sometimes many suffer because of the acts of a few, that’s just life. But whatever suffering that the players, former players, alumni, etc. may go through, will fail in comparison to what those young victims have gone through and will continue to go through for the rest of their lives. There is no logical, sane argument that can be presented in defense of PSU.

NW ATL 4 LIFE

July 12th, 2012
11:02 am

Give me a dirty Florida, UGA, USC, or Ohio State football program with star players driving brand new cars around campus or getting arrested for stupid sh*t over a football program like Penn St. that endorses child rape

Delbert D.

July 12th, 2012
11:04 am

The NCAA is paralyzed by the myriad of miniscule rules that they inconsistently enforce. Any death penalty must come from the state legislature.

ed

July 12th, 2012
11:04 am

the $$ of the settlements just went way up.

rational person

July 12th, 2012
11:06 am

@Bubba Please point to the NCAA rule that was violated by Jerry Sandusky abusing boys. Oh there isnt one? So there are no violations of NCAA rules? So under what authority are they going to shut the school down under?

PMC

July 12th, 2012
11:07 am

It may make more sense for Penn State to shut down the athletic department alltoegther for a decade or so.

They may be better off focusing completely on academics. The brand is so damaged it may take 20 years to recover.

BRW

July 12th, 2012
11:09 am

“Lack of institutional control” irrational p…..

Dawg Haus

July 12th, 2012
11:10 am

Wow… It seems like there’s even more information coming regarding this case. We should all pray for the victims and their families while hoping for a suitable punishment for the responsible parties. How incredibly sad this all is.

oldfart

July 12th, 2012
11:10 am

Yes there needs to be retribution to Penn State for its tacit knowledge of Sandusky’s actions and those involved should be prosecuted not only for their silence but as accessories before and after the fact as it applies.

Beyond this matter though the NCAA itself is culpable for promoting the platform that cultivates these situations. Using ringers that were no more viable students than cabbages has gone on since the days of Heisman and there wasn’t nearly as much money involved in those days. The NCAA and University presidents offer tacit approval of this farce that is a very lucrative minor league for the NFL and that will not be changing. Criminal behavior beyond sports rules has been ignored previously and I would submit that it will continue in a system whose very premise starts with the lie that college football is done for the good of the students and their education. Do I expect any real reform with the obscene amounts of money involved? NO

Bob Sacamano

July 12th, 2012
11:13 am

Good to see all the stone throwers out if force

blackbird13

July 12th, 2012
11:14 am

The NCAA is a cowardly, weak body, so there will not be a death penalty for football at PSU. But there should be. Freeh was quite clear that the power of the football program at PSU led to this coverup. Killing the football program would set a powerful example for other schools that allow athletics to corrupt their institutions. Yes, it’s unfair to some, but there are bigger issues at stake than someone’s athletic career.