College athletics and football in particular can be an ugly business. Scandals are rife as everyone bends the rules to the breaking point and shadowy off campus figures offer under the table gifts and cash. Every season it seems some high profile program is under investigation for recruiting violations, or padding the wallets of star players: ie "Yes young Bubba's mom is working on the serving line at the local Furr's Cafeteria, but I'm sure she came by that brand new four bedroom house in the suburbs quite honestly, " said the oil baron alumni with the orange and black tie
Those of us who follow the college game closely are used to this sort of corruption. It has been part of the process since the sport went big time back in the early part of the last century.
However things at Penn State have taken a nastier turn. Payoffs and corruption are one thing, child molestation and sodomy are others completely. Not even the guys doing hard time for armed robbery and murder will put up with that sort of grotesque behavior.
No, things at Happy Valley have gone to the darkest of the dark sides now that former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky has been charged with all manner of awful acts against children ranging in age from seven and eight to ten to thirteen. Sandusky, a former Penn State player and defensive coordinator retired from the program years ago, however he was left the keys to the kingdom by the athletic department and apparently he took full advantage of it.
The most appalling fact in this case, besides the details of the abuse, is the length of time over which it occured. By all accounts initial allegations of inappropriate behavior by Sandusky date back to 1996. That would be fifteen years ago. Fifteen years!
By the fall of 2000, eleven years ago, school janitor James Calhoun reported to his supervisor that he saw Sandusky performing oral sex on a minor in the shower room. His supervisor ducked the deal and told Calhoun to report it to someone else higher up. By all reports Calhoun never took it any further.
On March 1, of 2002, that would be nine years ago, a graduate assistant saw Sandusky sodomizing a young boy in the shower room. On March 2, and here is when things start to go terribly wrong in more ways we can count, the grad assistant told head coach Joe Paterno what he saw. Paterno, instead of going to the police, went to his boss Athletic Director, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, a VP for business and finance.
Later that month the grad assistant was told Sandusky had been barred not only from the locker room and showers, but also the charity he was working for at the time, The Second Mile Foundation. There was no other investigation. The buck stopped there. Paterno had told his boss, but apparently his boss didn't tell anyone else.
Despite all this, Sandusky continued to hold football camps through the auspices of The Second Mile Foundation, an organization designed to help "at risk" youths at satellite PSU sites. He didn't retire from day to day operations until after a mother reported her son had been sexually assaulted by him in 2008. It was only then the police got involved.
On November 5, 2011, former player, coach, and accused sodomite Jerry Sandusky was arrested. On the seventh Curley and Schultz were busted for not telling the cops.
Paterno remains uncharged, even though he didn't go the police either. His tenure at Penn State now seems at an end after nearly a half century at the helm. Other long careers have gone down in flames, but none have spewed the noxious fumes this one has.
There is simply no way to soft sell a charge like child molestation, or to explain away not reporting it.
Who knows why everyone kept their mouths shut? Loyalty to a former player and coach? Sorry, sodomizing underage kids who were at risk anyway throws that right out the window. Trying the keep the university's name out of the muck? That is probably where the brain failure started. Like the catholic church scandals, these guys were more interested in protecting the name of the school rather than putting a run amok pedophile behind bars.
And now it has all come apart for them. Reputations are sullied beyond redemption and careers are destroyed.
Paterno has been a fixture at Penn State for so long the two seem inseparable. Now he will have to slink out, this terrible cloud forever hovering above his name.
Shame and humiliation are all that is left for this crowd. And for some, there is an immanent trip to the big house.