Apparently two national championships back when Ronald Reagan was president go a long way at Penn State. Everyone knows how Paterno’s former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky has been charged with 40 criminal counts involving sexual assaults on minors, some as young as 10 years of age. This behavior, according to witnesses, took place during and after Sandusky’s time as Paterno’s assistant, with some incidents taking place in the showers at Penn State. ESPN reports that Paterno was made aware of at least one of the incidents years ago, but merely reported it to his superiors. This clears him in the minds of many deluded sports fans. Sorry, “JoePa” and company, but this is not a simple NCAA violation. These are criminal acts and Paterno’s failure to inform the cops and/ or child services is sickening to say the least. Especially since Sandusky still had access to Penn State facilities even after his resignation via his charity (Note: The charity has cut ties with Sandusky, so I’m not going to name them).
Some of the allegations go back to 1998 at least, which means when Paterno was doing his political commercials for “family values” candidates like George W Bush the knowledge that one of his assistant coaches had been reported “horsing around” in the Penn State showers with young boys may have been floating around in some biochemical impulse in JoePa’s brain. But hey, stand there feeling righteous, Joe. Doing what you should have done might have damaged your team’s “brand” or hurt you on the recruiting trail. Is that more important than emotional scars that will last a lifetime for the victims of this kind of abuse? Welcome to NCAA Division 1 sports! This is another example of why I prefer to cover NAIA college sports as well as D2 and others, rather than the conscienceless players and coaches of NCAA D1.
This now moves Paterno past the Grandpa Simpson joke he has become in the past several years, wandering around on the sidelines, seeming clueless while others were managing the team around him. It moves past the annoyance of JoePa’s rambling, inane replies at press conferences and his regal disdain for questions that any other head coach would be expected to answer. And remember, while he was pompously dismissing tough questions about some of the poor performances his team was giving at times over the years that same biochemical bit of memory may have been somewhere in that haughty brain.
What was he thinking? Was it something like “I don’t have to put up with questions like this! Not when I could be in my office failing to call the cops about one of my assistants reportedly soaping and lathering a 10 year old boy in the shower!”
The details of this story may be specific to the Penn State case, but don’t let anyone tell you that this sort of looking the other way for a winning coaching staff is an anomaly. It’s not an aberration of Division 1 college football – it’s the epitome of it.