I’ve always kind of distrusted all the talk about the “crimes” committed by the athletes and coaches caught up in scandals at schools like Memphis, Auburn, Ohio State, USC and the University of Miami. And now I know why. For the most part, big time college sports scandals seemed more like violations of often fundamentally flawed NCAA rules than actual violations of meaningful laws. And this suspicion of mine has been all too clearly confirmed by the scandal that erupted this past weekend at Penn State.
Because right now I don’t care how many tattoos Terrelle Pryor traded in his Big 10 championship rings in for. I don’t care how much Reggie Bush’s mother’s house cost or how much Cam Newton’s father wanted from Mississippi State or Auburn. And as for the U, Nevin Shapiro could have arranged for Hurricanes players to meet Jessica Rabbit from Who Framed Roger Rabbit for all I care. What former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky did and what his superiors at Penn State, including head coach Joe Paterno, apparently did to cover it up are far worse than any arcane recruiting violation.
Sandusky, who founded a charity called the Second Mile to work with disadvantaged and vulnerable children, has been charged with sexual molestation, an accusation available for all to see in the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s report on the case in detail so thoroughly graphic that it could give the faint of heart nightmares for weeks on end. In 2002, Penn State Athletic Director Tim Curley and Vice President for Finance and Business Gary Schultz were informed by Paterno of an incident a graduate assistant had witnessed where Sandusky molested a young boy, four years after Schultz had been informed of a similar incident.
And here’s where the scandal lies. Sandusky, by now retired, was told he couldn’t bring kids on campus anymore (though I’m not sure there was any attempt at enforcing this ban) but that was all Curley and Schultz did. They didn’t go to the police and neither did Paterno. Now Curley has taken a leave of absence, Schultz has resigned and both men are about to face trial for not reporting serious allegations of child molestation. And any decent person should be able to see how that’s worse than selling a championship ring.