Ya know what? I don’t know every fact there is to know about what happened at Penn State University when Jerry Sandusky was there abusing children. In fact, there are very few among us who know everything but at least I’m willing to admit it.
Yesterday, the NCAA, who completely botched the investigation from the start, restored 112 wins to the record of Joe Paterno. Those wins had been stripped from the school and Paterno as punishment for the Sandusky Child Sexual Abuse case. With the restoration of those wins, Paterno now has 409 career victories which once again makes him the leader in total wins among college football coaches.
As you might imagine, there was great joy throughout Happy Valley when this announcement came down.
Let me tell you exactly what I know. First, the NCAA screwed this whole thing up from the very beginning and once-again proved when there are criminal activities involved they need to step aside until the authorities can do their jobs. Secondly, there is no disputing that Jerry Sandusky sexually assaulted many children. Perhaps more than we’ll ever know.
He used his power as a football coach to coerce and dominate over kids. He’s in prison where he belongs.
Third, Joe Paterno did not do enough to end Sandusky’s reign of terror and there is no denying this. To say Paterno “did enough” when he contacted Athletic Director Tim Curley is laughable if only this were a laughable situation.
Curley was a former Paterno player who had been positioned by Paterno himself to become the AD. To suggest that Curley was going to act without input from Paterno who was Penn State, is ridiculous.
But let’s strip of all that away though. The culture of football being the horse the moves that cart at many universities is true, especially at Penn State but take all of that away for a second. A boss is told that one of his top assistants is committing horrible crimes and that boss then reports this to his own boss.
Chain of command right? Once the boss did his job by telling his own superiors, his job was done right?
This is the argument by those who have always defended Joe Paterno. He did his duty to report the witnessed crime to his superiors and then moved on to other things. In the world outside of college campuses where a football or basketball coach is a god, this is appropriate behavior.
Unfortunately, Paterno abused his power by not using it. If you think for one minute that Paterno didn’t hold court over that university then your blind. This doesn’t mean that Joe Paterno was not a good man, a good coach and a father figure to many because he was and that shouldn’t be forgotten.
The problem is that Paterno made one, awful choice. He chose to stand pat and let those “above him” handle a situation that he could have handled it himself. Paterno would have even added to his legacy if that were possible by choosing what’s right over loyalty and probably some disbelief.
The wins restored are being celebrated as a justification of Paterno doing nothing wrong. This isn’t true. They have been restored because the NCAA couldn’t find its’ way out of a paper sack and screwed this thing up from day one.
Lost in all of this is not how fans of the Nittany Lions are reacting to the restoration of 112 wins. What is lost is the regard for the victims who once again see themselves being shoved aside by the very same things that kept their stories from being revealed in the first place.