Penn State finally confronted the seamy underbelly of the Jerry Sandusky era this week – some 14 years and untold victims too late, and far too late to save either the university’s image or, perhaps, its vaunted football program.
After the release Thursday of a scorchingly revealing 267-page report that exposes repeated covering up of Sandusky’s rape of young boys over the years, at the highest and lowest levels of the university, we join in recommending the “death penalty” for Penn State football.
The governing body of collegiate sports, the NCAA, shouldn’t have to do it, either. Penn State itself should shutter its football operations voluntarily for an indefinite period. A good rule of thumb might be the decade or so that Penn State administrators conspired to cover this all up.
We mourn the collateral damage to wholly innocent athletes who will be affected by such a shutdown. They should be given every consideration by college football to transfer without penalty and, in every other way, have their scholarships honored.
But even the thought of seeing this school field a team anytime soon turns the stomach.
Sandusky’s unspeakable crimes were, indeed, not spoken of for years outside the ruling cabal at Penn State. President Graham Spanier, legendary head coach Joe Paterno and two other administrators did not alert authorities, tell the Board of Trustees, warn Sandusky’s potential victims, help or reach out to his actual victims, or in any way fulfill the most basic legal or moral responsibilities inherent in their positions and knowledge.
Further, even after receiving reports and eyewitness accounts of Sandusky’s savagery, they allowed Sandusky continued access to Penn State facilities where he staged his attacks.
Former FBI director Louis Freeh called the university’s negligence and active cover-ups a “callous and shocking disregard for child victims” – but likely only because he couldn’t find stronger words.
“If this isn’t the worst thing that’s ever happened in a football program ... I don’t know what is,” adds The Chronicle’s Scott Michaux.
No one loves football more than we do. But Penn State put its program above all else, including vulnerable children and the most fundamental notions of decency known to mankind.
If and when they play football again at Penn State, those helmets should be anything but white.