Television sports reporter Jackie Pepper posted on her blog today about the mess at Penn State that is rapidly engulfing the storied football program and indeed the entire institution. She very effectively details the legal responsibilities college administrators have – and the human decency that was evidently absent in this case. She said it all in her opening sentence: “The notion of several adults being made aware of the possible sexual abuse of a 10-year-old boy and not reporting the incident to police is mind boggling.”
Read her blog post here:
I’ve spent much of my career on college campuses and working in athletic departments. I ran youth basketball camps on a college campus years ago, staffed by coaches from the college. I cannot for the life of me fathom witnessing something like what is alleged at Penn State and not reporting it beyond my supervisor to legal authorities immediately – or hearing such a report from a colleague or subordinate and not calling the police.
As a parent to a child who has attended countless sports camps and clinics run by coaches, I’m speechless. There are no words to sum up what my reaction is.
There is no excuse – none – for thinking one’s responsibility stops at telling their boss and forgetting about it. Not when children are being molested.
For the sake not only of the eight children allegedly molested by Jerry Sandusky over a 15-year period (and who knows if there were more – perhaps many more) but also kids and coaches everywhere, I hope justice is swift and an NCAA investigation follows suit.
Former Ohio State coach Woody Hayes’s legendary career came undone in the end when he slugged an opposing player on the sidelines – a full-grown player in full pads whom the elderly Hayes couldn’t hurt. In this case, Paterno – a similarly legendary figure in college football – evidently told his boss he knew something had happened between one of his assistant coaches and 10-year-old boy, and then did and said nothing thereafter. That’s far more hurtful than Hayes’s worst transgressions, and Paterno and anyone else who knew of this and sat silently – complicit in a cover-up – should join athletic director Tim Curley and vice president of finance and business Gary Schultz in not only being shown the door but also facing legal charges.
If Southern Methodist University’s football program could be given the NCAA’s “death penalty” for illegal recruiting practices in the 1980s, shouldn’t Penn State face at least that for allowing and then covering up repeated molestation of children by a coach?
Every college administrator in the country should be hoping for swift and decisive action in this case against all involved – those who knew, those who lied, those who stayed quiet to protect the program.
And every parent in the country must be feeling the same gnawing, pit of the stomach disgust I have right now.