Penn State University needs an overhaul. Period.
An independent investigation into the child sex abuse scandal that rocked the campus and collegiate football powerhouse revealed a massive coverup by legendary coach Joe Paterno along with some of the most powerful administrative employees like the athletic director and university president.
When the news of a police investigation of alleged child molestation by former Penn St. coach Jerry Sandusky broke back in November of 2011, thousands of students, alumni, and others came forward, blindly supporting Sandusky, and even moreso, Paterno, claiming that he bore no responsibility for the several alleged incidences of child rape that often took place in his own locker room.
Well people, its time to open your eyes and wake the hell up. The proof is in the pudding, as emails proved Paterno knew of the allegations and used his power to keep the abuse an “in house” secret. The athletic director and university president allowed this to happen, letting Paterno’s ego and air of invincibility take priority over innocent children.
Is it fair impose a “death penalty” on the football team, punishing players and students that had absolutely nothing to do with the atrocities committed by Jerry Sandusky with the help of Paterno and other administration brass?
No, it’s not fair to the players, students or other staff who would lose their jobs with the suspension of an entire athletic program. But what other possible punishment would be drastic enough to break through the gigantic egos of those who coach and run successful, cash-cow athletic programs?
Success breeds power, and power leads to arrogance which often results in poor decisions meant to benefit the minority instead of the majority. A year-long suspension for a coach, or scholarships taken away just isn’t enough to penetrate the psyche of people whose power is so monumental that they think the rules don’t apply to them.
Joe Paterno got off easy. Perhaps a relatively swift fatal illness at an old age was a cleaner exit from this world than a prison stint as an elderly, high profile inmate behind bars for aiding a child molester.
While Paterno’s death will ultimately benefit the university in terms of helping Penn St. shake this stigma sooner than if he were alive, traces of who we thought was a glorious man are still littered throughout the campus and the larger community.
The statue must come down. Buildings must be renamed.
Unfortunately, the bad nearly always overpowers the good in terms of press coverage and lasting impressions. While Paterno undoubtedly changed many lives for the better, his legacy will forever be tarnished. Our memories of Paterno will not be a smiling man being carried off the field by adoring players, but instead, an old, desperate fellow begging the troops to rally behind him on the front lawn of his home. A man in a strange state of semi-denial with no intention of ever telling the truth.
The entire Paterno family has to disappear from the Penn St. campus. Current and former players need to stop publicly defending JoePa and his family. It’s time to submit to the truth, to reality.
If it were up to me, I’d impose a death penalty on the entire university. Shut down Penn St. for two years. Drop all endorsements of athletic teams and academic departments. Cut funding. Freeze time for two years. Force the brightest intellects and athletes to take their talents elsewhere, benefiting institutions that don’t allow a monster to terrorize children on its campus.
Obviously, that would be beyond unfair to thousands of students, teachers, faculty, staff, etc. It would be absolutely awful.
But you know what else isn’t fair? Being an 11-year-old child subjected to anal rape. It isn’t fair that an old man and his cronies would rather perpetuate a legacy of lies than protect dozens of children from a lifetime of mental anguish resulting from physical rape.
While the victim’s wounds will never fully heal, time will eventually restore dignity to Penn St. as an academic and athletic institution. In 20 years, Penn St. will likely have earned back its stellar reputation with this disgraceful injustice serving as a little blip in the back of our brains.
And that’s okay. Do the crime, serve the time. The university deserves a chance to once again be an impactfull member of our society. But not until after it serves a sentence severe enough to send a message to the rest of the all-powerful college sports community.