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Shame, sins and stupidity

Occasionally people say such toweringly stupid things in public that they may as well hang “kick me” signs on their posteriors. An Associated Press story by Maryclare Dale that ran Friday in my local newspaper contained so many people wearing those signs that I am likely to sprain my virtual leg obliging them.

The story’s headline said, “School president: It’s not ‘Penn State scandal.’” Dale’s story was about the new president of Penn State, Rodney Erickson, meeting with alumni in an attempt to salvage the reputation of a university where people in varying positions of authority may have been aware that children were being raped and sodomized, often on university property. On Friday, Erickson held the third and final such meeting.

In his Thursday meeting with alumni in Philadelphia, Erickson tried to narrow the focus the scandal. Dale reported:

Erickson said it “grieves” him when people refer to “the Penn State scandal” because he thinks it centers on just one person—former football assistant coach Jerry Sandusky [ … ] He said he believes people should call it “the Sandusky scandal.”

Former longtime football assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, 67, faces 52 counts of molesting young boys over a 15-year period. He maintains his innocence and remains free on $250,000 bail while awaiting trial.

Erickson is well educated, but he has no common sense, and his questionable listening tour seems to have further inflamed an already surly alumni base. In fact, Erickson’s attempt to rename the Penn State scandal insults everyone who is following this story, not just alumni, because the scandal is bigger than one person—certainly bigger than an assistant football coach.

Just a “Sandusky scandal,” Mr. Erickson? What about university president Graham Spanier, who resigned after the allegations of abuse became public? And what about Joe Paterno, who had been Penn State’s head football coach long enough to become the winningest coach in Division I football history? Shortly after he reached that milestone, the PSU board of trustees relieved him of his coaching duties, claiming that he failed to tell police what he knew about sexual abuse accusations against Sandusky.

The Penn State scandal also sheds its baleful light on Tim Curley, Penn State's former athletic director, and Gary Schultz, a former university vice president who oversaw campus police. Both have been charged with perjury and failing to report an alleged 2002 sexual assault of a child. Both pleaded innocent Friday.

Spanier and Paterno are not the targets of any criminal investigations.

Whether it’s fair or not, Paterno is the face of Penn State and the face of the scandal. Chances are that before the Penn State scandal broke, many PSU alums would not have recognized Spanier, Curley, or Schultz if they all were standing in line to buy PSU football merchandise in the university’s gift shop. But everyone who has at least a double-digit sports IQ knows who Paterno is. Sad to say, many PSU alums seem torn on whether to build a statue in his honor or proceed immediately to make him a saint.

Fortunately, other PSU graduates don’t see it that way. Matt Kalafat, an alumnus from the class of 1991, drew applause and a couple of jeers Friday for saying that not all alumni felt Paterno had been mistreated.

“Joe Paterno is not a victim and he'll be the first one to say that, and for us to think that he is makes us more of a laughing stock than we already are,” he said. “I loved Joe Paterno and I probably still do. But he needed to go, and this is why: evil flourishes when good men do nothing.”

The Associated Press account of the Thursday alumni meeting leads one to believe that a countless number of PSU alums myopically ignore the fact that this story is, at its heart, about rape and sodomy, not football. It quotes a 2002 alumnus, Ryan Bagwell, who wants the PSU board of trustees to “explain why they made the decisions they did.” The story does not report on whether Bagwell showed any concern for the children at the center of this case.

Taking center stage in the Whiskey Tango Foxtrot category, though, are the cousins John and Mike Cohrac, who graduated from Penn State in 1990 and 1999, respectively. They are quoted indirectly as saying Thursday they would still support the football program but might withhold donations to bolster university academics until they hear explanations from the trustees. On what planet does that make sense? The Penn State scandal has everything to do with the football program, so these two are going to shortchange students who are not athletes.

I need two legs, not one, to give them the kicking they deserve.

Attribution of facts in this post was omitted to make for less cumbersome reading. The following sources were used, with sections frequently appearing verbatim in this post:

(New York Times)

(Sports Illustrated)



(USA Today)

(New York Times)


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 15th, 2012 02:17 am (UTC)
You can take the reporter out of the newsroom...
Jan. 15th, 2012 05:27 am (UTC)
... and he'll usually wind up at a bar.
Jan. 15th, 2012 11:55 am (UTC)
Obfuscation squared
Before we know it, Penn State will be redefining what the meaning of the word is, is. It seems that to address the truth and move on, is a more prudent position than making statements that keep the issue alive. Penn State is incapable of accepting their collective reality and responsibility, horrible things happened as the games played on and the money rolled in. Finding an honest man at Penn State is as futile as Diogenes seardh for one in ancient Greece.
Jan. 15th, 2012 02:49 pm (UTC)
Re: Obfuscation squared
The only way anyone at PSU would be interested in Diogenes would be if he were a linebacker.
Jan. 18th, 2012 02:27 pm (UTC)
Out of luck -- he's a cornerback.

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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