'Death penalty' for Penn State football

AP file
Former Coaches Jerry Sandusky (left) and Joe Paterno
Thursday, July 12, 2012 4:12 PM
Last updated Friday, Jan. 4, 2013 10:17 PM
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ARDMORE, Pa. — Indefensible.

A scathing 267-page report released Thursday reveals the depths of the Penn State cover-up that placed a serial child molester and the reputation of a university and its football program above the welfare of defenseless children.

And the only reasonable conclusion that can be drawn from the facts of the internal inquiry on the heels of the horrifying testimony that convicted former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky is that Penn State doesn’t need to be playing any football in the near future.

If the university doesn’t see fit to self impose harsh sanctions to rebuild its reputation, then the NCAA needs to step up and deliver the “death penalty” to the Nittany Lions program.

If this isn’t the worst thing that’s ever happened in a football program and a flagrant abuse of institutional control, I don’t know what is. Southern Methodist’s recruiting scandals were petty compared to what Penn State did – and didn’t – do to protect children.

The late Joe Paterno, who investigation chief and former FBI director Louis Freeh said “was an integral part of this active decision to conceal,” was flat-out wrong and down-right insulting in a statement he made shortly before his death.

“This is not a football scandal and should not be treated as one,” Paterno wrote in the letter that was released this week.

I don’t like to speak ill of the dead, but Paterno doesn’t hold the moral authority to tell anyone what is and isn’t anymore. His
integrity on this issue is null and void.

This is absolutely a football scandal even if none of the players on Penn State’s teams were aware or involved. The current players don’t deserve to be punished, but it’s always active and innocent players who bear the brunt of sanctions imposed for the wrong-doing of others.

Penn State has no business sending a team out to represent the university this fall. Every one of its active players should be released and be free to transfer to any other school for immediate eligibility to finish their collegiate careers.

Penn State needs to take the next year or two to voluntarily erase remnants of the scandal from the landscape – including razing the football building where Sandusky was witnessed raping victims on more than one occasion. How future generations of Penn State students can be expected to shower in the same place where Sandusky prowled is incomprehensible.

This is obviously a great cost for a powerhouse program that for the most part operated on its founding principles of “success with honor.” But this instance of institutional and program failure is too egregious to just ignore and move on.

If the school isn’t willing to do this itself, the NCAA needs to step in and do it for them. Sure, the circumstances aren’t necessarily spelled out in the NCAA manual, but that’s only because nobody could have foreseen such a horrifying abuse of power by an athletics program. An example needs to be made and put on the record that this kind of cover-up can’t be tolerated.

The facts of the report – culled during eight months of pouring over official school documents and e-mails – specifically singled out the football program as being the “currency” that allowed Sandusky to “groom victims.” And the university’s silence on the matter enabled a sexual deviant to stalk and abuse children for more than a decade after the school’s leaders first made the conscious decision to conceal what they knew.

“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 said. “The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized.”

Freeh called the school’s disregard for the boys Sandusky abused “callous and shocking.” Evidence shows that former athletic director Tim Curley changed his mind about reporting Sandusky’s behavior to authorities after “talking it over” with Paterno.

Former school vice president Gary Schultz worried about “opening a Pandora’s Box” if the allegations against Sandusky were revealed.

Ex-president Graham Spanier noted “the only downside for us is if the message isn’t (heard) and acted upon and we then become vulnerable for not having reported it.”

Do these sound like the actions of men unaware that what they were doing was wrong? No, they knew it and did it anyway to protect their own and the football program.

Paterno’s family said Thursday that the late coach “never interfered with any investigation.”

Excuse me, but interfering would have been a good idea and could have saved some boys from further abuse.

At this point, it isn’t enough that Sandusky spend the rest of his life in jail, that Paterno’s legacy be forever tarnished by his gross inaction and that all the officials key to the cover-up were fired and in some cases indicted for lying to a grand jury.

No, at this point Penn State needs to be punished for what it did and the football program needs to be rebooted and started from scratch.

Only then will justice be served in full and the school be able to move forward.

Comments (37) Add comment
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Just My Opinion
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Just My Opinion 07/12/12 - 04:31 pm
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What a horrible situation!

What a horrible situation! When this first became known, I found myself defending Joe Paterno, because I've always knew him as an honorable and just man. But, as this sorted atrocity unraveled, I came to realize that Paterno may not have been a pedophile himself, but he was definitely an accomplice and an enabler! I'm still finding it hard to accept the "death penalty" for the program at this point, mainly because I hate the idea of punishing the people who played no part in it. After all, the admin who were involved are gone...or should be. And Paterno is dead, so his testimony and recollections don't have to be dealt with any longer. And of course, Sandusky is in prison, thank God. I do think the idea of tearing down the buildings where Sandusky raped the poor boys is a great one, and they should definitely do that. In fact, I'd go further and call for the statue of Joe Paterno to be taken down..at least for a few years. I was going to say to give this time to let the dust settle and let people forget...but how can a young man who had his innocence and soul taken from him, how can he ever forget? Good article, Scott. Thank you.

crkgrdn
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crkgrdn 07/12/12 - 04:59 pm
6
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The statue of Paterno as well

The statue of Paterno as well as the building where the acts took place must be razed.

Public reaction will be a measure of whether our society is moral, just and honorable or has become something of our worst nightmares.

Carleton Duvall
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Carleton Duvall 07/12/12 - 05:07 pm
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I agree-good article

There is no way that one can be unkind to Joe Paterno or the school administration. Nothing would be strong enough to punish them for their lack of action in this matter. I do have a problem with punishing the innocent, those kids who had no part or knowledge with what was going on. I would want to give a lot of thought and prayer before ending the football program at Penn State.

noway
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noway 07/12/12 - 05:11 pm
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5
headline

That is the same headline as an MSNBC report. Same article too?

Chris Gay
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Chris Gay 07/12/12 - 05:19 pm
3
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headline

So MSNBC has Michaux's name in its headline, too?......

my.voice
4924
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my.voice 07/12/12 - 05:25 pm
5
2
Nike announced today they

Nike announced today they were removing Paterno's name from the child development center in his name. This is why you DONT dedicate anything to people while they are still alive.

Penn States athletic programs should be scuttled for a period of 14 years. That's the time it took for this garbage of a person to be revealed. There is no good way to spin this, its rotten from the top to the bottom. They don't deserve the program ($$$$$).

Lets see if the NCAA has the gonads to make and example out of Penn State.

Jake
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Jake 07/12/12 - 06:25 pm
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Retribution

I don't think that an entire university should be collectively punished for the actions (or inactions) of a few of it's members. Should we have deactivated the Army because of the My Lai massacres?
Penn State is much bigger than it's sports programs but sports are an integral part of most major universities, especially the football programs.
I see no reason to not continue with their football program since the people who have shamed the university are no longer connected with it.

rmwhitley
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rmwhitley 07/12/12 - 06:31 pm
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I wouldn't
Unpublished

agree with msnbc if it ever told the truth, except this one time it finally "manned up".

itsanotherday1
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itsanotherday1 07/12/12 - 07:35 pm
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Can't agree on death penalty,

Can't agree on death penalty, as you are handing it out to kids who didn't have a darned thing to do with the scandal.

I want them to prosecute the _____ out of the school officials who covered it up.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 07/12/12 - 07:36 pm
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I Found Joe at Fault From the Start

If anyone remembers I found fault with Joe P at the start when many were still defending him. Having said that, try to ban football at Penn St and they would join the pro Canadian Football League or something. Penn St. is not about to give up football.

Willow Bailey
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Willow Bailey 07/12/12 - 07:52 pm
5
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It was obvious from the very

It was obvious from the very beginning that it was a cover up from Joe Paterno upwards. It was difficult reading the comments of those who supported Paterno over the boys who were harmed. I am glad they (the victims) finally were not only able to be heard, but to be believed.

KSL
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KSL 07/12/12 - 08:57 pm
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1
I agree with Jake. None of

I agree with Jake. None of athletes should be made to suffer because if the misdeeds of a few they had no control over.

curly123053
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curly123053 07/12/12 - 09:29 pm
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Sanctions Are Warranted

I think Penn State should be forced to forfeit all games during the years of the coverup. Penn State should also pay back all earnings from bowl games played during those same years. Any monetary awards during those seasons should be returned too and placed in an account to give to the victims as a type of punitive action. This is to serious to just say "Oh well"! Plus all involved in this coverup need to do serious time in prison too.

Jake
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Jake 07/12/12 - 10:52 pm
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KSL

Thank you. There have been many victims in this tragic incident and there is no need to bring in others. I am not equating child abuse with the withdrawl of football scholarship privileges.
This is most important and, Scott, please listen. The student athletes should not have to be penalized for things they had no control over. Withdrawing scholarships from qualified innocent people does in no way relieve the trauma from what the kids suffered.
Punish the people directly responsible, not the whole of Penn State University.

Riverman1
86954
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Riverman1 07/13/12 - 05:05 am
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1
If a coach robs a bank should

If a coach robs a bank should the football program be shut down? Hardly. This was a criminal act by one man and a cover-up by a few, but it had nothing to do with football.

my.voice
4924
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my.voice 07/13/12 - 07:04 am
2
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Have you read the report from

Have you read the report from Freeh? This wasn't Paterno acting alone, the whole damn place knew about this and sat on it. The top-down is rotten. Its only fair to shut this place down from further activity in the sports arena.

Nothing to do with football? It was ALL about football and the MONEY that follows it. Universities BANK on these programs, especially those like Penn State. And supposedly, the football program is about building young men into greater men. Yet, the boys involved were swept aside so the MONEY would keep rolling in.

These abused kids were brought ONTO the Penn State campus, and RAPED. And there are no doubt dozens more we will NEVER know about.

I respectfully disagree with you Riverman1

americafirst
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americafirst 07/13/12 - 07:27 am
2
1
RM1, I also have to disagree.

RM1, I also have to disagree. While I am not sure that the death penalty is appropriate, this has everything to do with football. Sandusky used the football program to seduce the victims. He brought his victims into the locker room, introduced them to players, had them on sidelines during games and took them to bowl games. He was never turned in to protect the reputation of the school and the football program. It is inexcusable that Paterno and others knowlingly allowed Sandusky to do this when they knew he was molesting and raping these kids. And it was all about football.

justthefacts
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justthefacts 07/13/12 - 07:32 am
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Tough one

SMU was shut down over far less of a crime. This is undoubtably the worst scenario we have ever witnessed in college sports. I am sure the NCAA never envisioned anything like this when writing their bylaws. I don't know about shutting the program down. There are over 100 football players depending on Penn State and I find it difficult to punish them for something they knew nothing about. Plus, you would unemploy hundreds of others connected with the program. And again, they are innocent. Throw the book at the so called "leaders" without mercy.

blues550
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blues550 07/13/12 - 07:52 am
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Paterno & PSU
Unpublished

Excellent article, Scott.

From the beginning of this I was fingering Paterno and caught high holy hell from many circles.

And if you know anything about that school Paterni, not the president or AD, was the most powerful person there.

This was more than a crime, this was - and if allowed to continue unpunished - is an assault on college football and the university.

I'm not sure about tearing the building down, but that statue needs to destroyed. As for the death penalty, you would be taking away many livlihoods of innocent people but only for a time. If ever there was a case of "loss of institutional control" here it is. I just do not believe the NCAA has the moral code to do it.

For those still alive jail should await.

Carleton Duvall
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Carleton Duvall 07/13/12 - 08:31 am
1
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Scott on January 22nd

hanks for all the comments. I appreciate them and understand some of the arguments. But it seems that many people are passing way too much blame on Paterno in this when HE did not molest any children and HE did not cover anything up. He reported everything he knew to his superiors. Even the law states that was all his responsibility required. Did he have a moral obligation to do more? Yes, I think we can all agree. Paterno admitted that he wished he'd followed up with his bosses to see what was being done. But HE did NOT cover anything up, Paterno spent his whole life trying to do the right things. He coached football with an integrity that exceeds all measures. He emphasized academics more than on-field success. He gave back to his school and his community in ways that far exceed most people. He stood for the all the right things. He was not perfect. None of us are. Good people make mistakes. This was clearly a mistake in judgment on his part. It is very easy for all of us who were not in his position to say how we would have handled the situation. I hope to hell I never have to deal with anything so overwhelmingly monstrous in my life. But to judge Paterno's whole life because he didn't follow up on what his superiors were doing seems harsh. The good he did in this world should not be thrown out by the failures of his superiors to respond appropriately to the information he gave them. Some will never forgive him. That is anyone's prerogative.hanks for all the comments. I appreciate them and understand some of the arguments. But it seems that many people are passing way too much blame on Paterno in this when HE did not molest any children and HE did not cover anything up. He reported everything he knew to his superiors. Even the law states that was all his responsibility required. Did he have a moral obligation to do more? Yes, I think we can all agree. Paterno admitted that he wished he'd followed up with his bosses to see what was being done. But HE did NOT cover anything up, Paterno spent his whole life trying to do the right things. He coached football with an integrity that exceeds all measures. He emphasized academics more than on-field success. He gave back to his school and his community in ways that far exceed most people. He stood for the all the right things. He was not perfect. None of us are. Good people make mistakes. This was clearly a mistake in judgment on his part. It is very easy for all of us who were not in his position to say how we would have handled the situation. I hope to hell I never have to deal with anything so overwhelmingly monstrous in my life. But to judge Paterno's whole life because he didn't follow up on what his superiors were doing seems harsh. The good he did in this world should not be thrown out by the failures of his superiors to respond appropriately to the information he gave them. Some will never forgive him. That is anyone's prerogative.

my.voice
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my.voice 07/13/12 - 08:44 am
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@Carleton Im not sure if you

@Carleton
Im not sure if you are posting a repost or what, but I disagree with all of it. This wasn't a mistake, little boys were RAPED and MOLESTED. He didnt just make a recruiting violation, these kids were raped and sodomized. Paterno always did his best? How do you know that? It seems the ONE time he had the chance to do OBVIOUS "right" he looked the other way.

Follow the money, always follow the money. Unfortunate for these boys, but I guess to Penn State, a little cash is worth the sacrifice.

Carleton Duvall
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Carleton Duvall 07/13/12 - 08:53 am
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My.voice

This is a paste from comments Scott made on Jan 22nd.I don't agree with it either. I am only showing how Scott's opinion has changed in six months

americafirst
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americafirst 07/13/12 - 09:04 am
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Read the report, Mr. Duvall.

Read the report, Mr. Duvall. He most certainly did cover it up and turned his back to it all. There is no other conclusion that can be drawn.

americafirst
966
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americafirst 07/13/12 - 09:05 am
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And to be fair and accurate,

And to be fair and accurate, he wasn't the only one that did so.

justthefacts
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justthefacts 07/13/12 - 09:07 am
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Mr. Duvall

Nice job. You have a great memory.

Scott Michaux
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Scott Michaux 07/13/12 - 09:26 am
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Evolution of thought

Three points: First, of course my opinion about this subject and Paterno's role in it has evolved as more evidence has been revealed. To stubbornly stick to a point of view when new facts are presented would be ignorant. I stand by what I wrote before in the context of when it was written and what was publicly known at the time.
Second, a careful read of the column shows that I fully agree that players shouldn't be punished even though the program should. They should be free to transfer to any other school without penalty or allowed to continue their education at Penn State on honored scholarships. This is way more than what is ever allowed when the NCAA hands down sanctions.
Third, the "death penalty" doesn't mean football is never to be played at Penn State again. You'll notice SMU is still operating a program. It is a temporary sentence designed to force a program back to square one, which is exactly where the Nittany Lions need to be at this point.

David Parker
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David Parker 07/13/12 - 09:35 am
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With JP dead, Sandusky

With JP dead, Sandusky jailed, and I assume the administration involved has been fired/charged, the only folks left are the ones not involved and the victims.

Those remaining are under extreme stress over this obviously. Piling on a "Death Penalty" will surely break them. Really whether they have football or not, the next generation of Penn State people will be scarred and basically damaged goods.

I would be curious to find out what the victims think is appropriate. Find that out and we've got something. Everyone has an opinion, you find that out fast here. But in this case, the only ones that matter imo are those victims'.

Carleton Duvall
6305
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Carleton Duvall 07/13/12 - 09:38 am
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americafirst

I haven't the slightest idea of what you are talking about. I read the report and made my comment about it at 5:07PM yesterday. At 8:31 AM today. I copied and paste a comment That Scott made on Jan. 22Nd. To his credit he has taken another view now that he has learned more facts. Now, tell me why do I need to read the report again?

Carleton Duvall
6305
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Carleton Duvall 07/13/12 - 09:59 am
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justthe facts

I would be living a lie if I did not admit that it wasn't my memory that helped me find Scott's Jan 22nd comment. Skeet 099 posted the place to find it. It is he that has the good memory, not me.

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