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Posts Tagged ‘Graham Spanier’

Yesterday, NCAA President Mark Emmert levied penalties on the Penn State football program resembling the athletic equivalent of the 1979 Three Mile Island nuclear meltdown in nearby Harrisburg, PA. The sanctions on Penn State University will include vacating 111 wins from 1998 through 2011, a $60 million fine to be donated to external child abuse prevention programs, a four-year bowl ban and the revocation of 40 scholarships over the same time span. Emmert spoke for nearly 45 minutes at the press conference, delivering a farewell speech to the football program that was not so much a eulogy as it was a scathing condemnation of the newly-minted pariah of the NCAA.

As the NCAA set the plan in motion to annihilate Penn State football, Rodney Erickson was cornered. This past weekend, the NCAA reportedly informed the Penn State University president that he had a choice between multiple years of the death penalty for the football program and a crippling array of sanctions that would extend for four years. Given the choice, Erickson made the correct decision. Penn State games will still sell out. In fact, given the incredible support that the fan base has shown in recent months, demand may even rise. Each home game has a massive economic impact for State College and the surrounding area, and multiple years of an empty Beaver stadium would have wreaked havoc on the university, the town and countless businesses that depend upon revenue derived from football games. According to the Wall Street Journal, Penn State football generated $161.5 million for the state of Pennsylvania in 2009.

Ironically, Emmert criticized Penn State’s “lack of institutional control” while proving that his own organization has exactly the same problem. He ascended to his current post in October of 2010 and immediately sought to shake the traditional notions of the NCAA; weak, ineffective and toothless. A chihuahua at the dog park trying desperately to bark loud enough to convince the big dogs to fear his bite. Emmert wanted so badly to prove that the NCAA had teeth that he violated his own organization’s rules. How’s that for institutional control?

Emmert was convinced that the only way to solve the NCAA’s Napoleon complex was to pull the trigger on this ruthless punishment. The only problem is that the NCAA, by precedent and by its own bylaws, has no authority to punish schools for moral transgressions, however depraved, sinful or Sanduskian they may be. The NCAA is no moral authority on anything. In fact, last time I checked, it was making millions of dollars off of the hard work and talent of the semi-free labor of its “student-athletes.” Emmert claimed to want to “reform” the athletic culture of universities, but instead administered a brand of frontier justice that creates no precedent whatsoever for future cases to be judged against. Penn State would be crucified in the court of public opinion if it decides to fight the sanctions, so Emmert also forced the penalties onto a defenseless public university.

Emmert and the NCAA violated due process and overstepped their legal authority, but the point is that they did not have to. The heinous crimes committed are a Jerry Sandusky problem. They are a Graham Spanier problem, a Tim Curley problem and a Gary Schultz problem. They were also very much a Joe Paterno problem. Sandusky has faced his day of reckoning and been declared fit for society only in the solitary confines of a dark prison cell. Spanier, Curley and Schultz will soon be punished for their own indifference, inaction and as Emmert himself put it, “hero worship” of Joe Paterno. Sandusky’s enablers were in charge of the university when all of this happened, and they failed miserably to protect the dozens of boys that Sandusky molested. But they will be judged, and they will be judged harshly. The NCAA had no place to penalize Penn State’s students, coaches and athletes for the crimes of the Sandusky Society.

I would be willing to bet that Erickson and Penn State would have listened if the NCAA would have requested that they simply donate the $60 million to charities as an act of goodwill. Too bad they didn’t ask. Instead, Emmert channeled his and the NCAA’s inner chihuahua and maimed the football program at Penn State for years to come. Congratulations.

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Blackened lives
Sunless skies
Our bare world weeps
Black hearts now reign

This is a lyric from a band you’ve probably never heard of called Unearth, but I felt that it properly represented Jerry Sandusky’s execrable contribution to this world. Last night, in Bellefonte, PA, Sandusky was convicted on 45 of 48 counts, and his reign of terror over his victims finally, mercifully, met its end. Prosecutors claimed that he sexually abused 10 boys over a period of 15 years. They, and everybody else, know it was much more and much longer than that. His organization, The Second Mile, which provided him with a nearly bottomless cache of vulnerable, fatherless victims, was founded in 1977. Once again, 1977. You do the math, because I really don’t want to. Hopefully, the other victims that we don’t even know exist have taken some sort of solace in the guilty verdict and are receiving the emotional help and support that they need.

Aside from the unfathomable physical pain and psychological torture that 68-year-old Jerry Sandusky’s victims have endured and will continue to endure for the rest of their lives, the greatest tragedy in this case is Sandusky’s old age. When Sandusky exits this planet, he will receive a permanent respite from the suffocating ignominy and shame that he brought upon himself, his family and Penn State University. Society will be spared of his existence, but his death will be a tragedy, as he will no longer have to suffer in a prison where solitary confinement would be a gift. We can only hope that wherever he ends up will be worse than a life behind bars. If Hell does exist, there will be a special cage on the 50-yard line reserved just for him, complete with a great view of a black, inescapable eternity.

The haunting testimony from the cavalcade of victims described in detail the acts of a pederast and revealed how the secretive culture of a university acted as a sentinel and provided a safe house for his pedophilia. Penn State University aided, abetted and rationalized his conduct all in the name of shielding the football program from public humiliation and protecting the Penn State brand. How’s that brand looking now? During an interview with ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap, Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly struggled to find words to answer Schaap. The question: “What took so long?” Unfortunately for Penn State, it will have to answer that question and explain its indifference to the world.

Athletic Director Tim Curley and former VP of Business and Finance Gary Schultz are charged with failure to properly report suspected child abuse and perjury for lying to the grand jury and will face their first hearing on July 11. Former President Graham Spanier has not yet been charged, but indications are that charges will be forthcoming. Around the time that the trial started, NBC News released a report with this bombshell:

Internal e-mails and documents they say show former President Graham Spanier and others discussed whether they needed to tell authorities about a 2001 allegation involving a late-night encounter between a naked Sandusky and a young boy in the Penn State shower room. The sources say documents show Penn State even did legal research on the issue. But in one e-mail exchange, two sources say, Spanier and former vice president Gary Schultz agreed it would be ‘humane’ to Sandusky not to inform social services and the incident never got reported.

Whoa. If these e-mails say what NBC is reporting, they will prove without a doubt that Spanier, Curley and Schultz conspired to harbor Sandusky and looked the other way as vicious crimes were being committed on their watch. I’m no expert, but sounds like these boys would be well advised to hire a good lawyer (hint: avoid Amendola) that will get the best plea deal possible, because they don’t want this going to trial. They’ll end up right next to their old buddy Jerry. I wonder if it was worth it.

Penn State now must put as much distance between itself and Sandusky’s accomplices as possible. Some people, whether Curley, Schultz, Spanier, other Penn State employees or the university itself, are about to get annihilated, and it won’t be “humane.” Penn State is staring at the possibility of a scorched earth, not just for the athletic department, but for the entire university. The once-respected institution could be immolated as a warning to others, and deservedly so. It hired administrators who willingly ignored the warning signs and who cared more about their jobs than the well-being of children. It had the power to stop it and chose not to. And it didn’t just stand by idly as this was happening. It willingly and actively took steps to give Sandusky carte blanche to continue to play his despicable game.

Penn State enabled the abuse, exploitation and rape of innocent children.

It best chew on that as it considers how to respond to the inevitable federal investigation. And it best fire anybody and everybody that could have had knowledge of Sandusky’s actions or the simultaneous cover-up. If not, the university could see its name etched on numerous federal indictments.

Hopefully, some good will come from the legacy of this case. It could lead to more victims coming forward without fear. It could lead to more people acting upon their suspicions and alerting the police. And it could lead to a change in institutional policies at Penn State and across the country that make it impossible for school administrators to conspire to allow abuse to take place. Unfortunately, any good that comes from this case will never compensate for all the evil that Jerry Sandusky created in his lifetime. His victims must live with the permanent memories of the “Tickle Monster,” a man with an infested brain and a soul of miasma who was allowed, and even encouraged, to ruin their lives.

At least today, we can say with confidence that Sandusky is where he belongs. It will be nice if he stays alive and suffers for many years in prison, but if he dies soon, there will be someone eagerly awaiting his arrival. Hopefully the Devil’s got a few tricks up his sleeve for this one.

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