There is a stench coming out of Penn State beyond Jerry Sandusky’s sexual abuse scandal. It is a stench that rises beyond pediphilia and begs the question: Why would legendary football coach Joe Paterno and officials at the highly-respected university not intervene back in 1998? Just to protect the football program and school from a small blackeye that would soon have turned into a shining moment for exposing Sandusky and taking swift action?
No, I think there is more to it.
The most logical explanation I can come up with is this. Sandusky, once the football team’s defensive coordinator, knew too much dirt, dirt that would not only bring down the curtain on Paterno’s career and squeaky-clean image as well as the football program but would reveal corrupt academic practices that gave players special treatment in the classroom.
Anyone who has delved into college athletics knows it is a rotten operation at the core. At the college level, football is not so much about coaching as it is recruiting top players from around the country. And you can’t compete for the best players unless you cook up some unethical deals. Payments under the table, cars, bank accounts, sex, summer “jobs,” all those things the ruling NCAA prohibits and yet can’t fully enforce.
Penn State was beyond all that, though. That was Paterno’s reputation, anyway. He was the cleanest coach in college football, so it was said.
The Louis Freeh investigation’s findings, released yesterday, offered a damning look at Penn State, and one of the most interesting aspects of it was buried deep down in an article that appeared in today’s New York Times.
The Freeh investigation “also determined that Mr. Sandusky, upon his retirement shortly after the 1998 investigation, received both an unusual compensation package and a special designation of ’emeritus’ rank that carried special privileges, including access to the university’s recreation facilities,” the same facilities he used to lure his young victims. The university president signed off on a $168,000 lump-sum payment to Sandusky, the Times reported.
I think when you say “hush money” you are getting close to what really happened between Penn State and Sandusky. It remains to be seen whether the real truth ever comes out.