Viewpoint: Penn State officials lose reputation in abuse scandal

By Joshua Madden
A&E Editor

I have a feeling that Pennsylvania State University’s enrollment number will probably drop before the beginning of next semester. In fairness, though, that’s only because it absolutely should considering the administration’s lack of trustworthiness.

Although many people have written opinion columns bashing Joe Paterno because of the recent sex scandal, I feel like that misses the larger point: the corruption at Penn State – in terms of what they would do to protect the reputation of the school’s football program – was widespread and inexcusable.

In order to understand how widespread it was, one has to go step by step to see how many people dropped the ball.
Joe Paterno, the longtime head coach of Penn State’s football team, is accused of having knowledge of a 10-year-old boy being molested by Paterno’s former defensive coordinator, Jerry Sandusky, in 2002 in the locker room showers and not taking appropriate actions.

Mike McQueary, who was then a graduate assistant in the program and is now an assistant coach at Penn State, said he saw a young boy being raped and reported the incident to Paterno. Paterno did report the incident to his superiors, although not to police, and many are saying that he took his actions to prevent future incidents.

Tim Curley, the athletic director at Penn State, and Gary Schultz, a senior vice president at the university who played a role in overseeing the police department at Penn State, were charged with perjury and failure to report suspected child abuse by Sandusky. Paterno has not been charged with any crimes.

Although Sandusky had retired in 1999, he still had an office at Penn State and a position as a coach emeritus at the time of the incident. He was only finally banned from campus on Nov. 6 of this year.

So that’s right, ladies and gentlemen, it took from 2002 until Nov. 6 of this year to even ban Sandusky from campus amid allegations of raping a boy in the showers at Penn State. This is after at least four different people were made knowledgeable about the act.

I will attempt to give Sandusky assumption of innocence until he pleads guilty, which is looking increasingly likely, although that is obviously just speculation on my part.

I will try not to rush to judgment with anyone else, but I don’t understand why no one reported this event to police. The police could have done an investigation and helped to prevent future molestations, or they could have proved Sandusky to be innocent.

There is simply no rationale for the collective inaction of the Penn State administration except that the group failed to hold themselves to a reasonable – not even high, just reasonable – moral standard.

Let me be clear here: This is not a comment against Penn State as an institution or against the entire administration or student body. From the way the story looks, this was an incident that was limited to only a few powerful individuals at the university.

Unfortunately, sometimes innocent individuals are harmed by the actions of others, which appears to be the case of the overwhelming majority of people at Penn State.

The only way that these individuals can save the reputation of Penn State and avoid contributing any further to a decline in its reputation is for them to resign. There’s simply no way around it.

Everyone who knew about the incident (including Paterno) or failed to put the proper procedures in place must resign.

If that happens, maybe then Penn State can be restored to its formerly honorable reputation. For the sake of the students there, I hope so.