The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

March 12, 2013

Men in power fell short of their duty


Daily Item

---- — We are now nearly a year and a half into the scandal that rocked Pennsylvania two Novembers ago, and well beyond a decade since Jerry Sandusky began his terrible reign in a place known as Happy Valley.

So far, Penn State has spent more than $40 million on the scandal, including the first $12 million installment on the huge $60 million fine levied by the NCAA. That first number will grow exponentially over the coming years as the rest of the fine goes out, but that total will be minimal compared to the money the university will eventually have to shell out in civil cases dealing with Sandusky's victims.

We still are not all that much closer to knowing what happened behind the scenes in State College, however. Penn State paid $8 million for the Freeh Report while the Paterno family followed up with a report of its own, refuting Freeh's findings in a back-and-forth finger-pointing gesture that really did not solve much.

Sure, the Freeh Report put forth some plans that the university has implemented to move forward, but a lot of questions remain.

The scandal has followed the course that most do. First was the shock. Then came the reaction, followed by correction. Now it is time for reflection.

When you pause and think about what happened, not in terms of Sandusky's actions, but in terms of what happened within the Penn State community from the top down, you still wonder just what were they thinking.

The most powerful people at Penn State now await trials on charges ranging from conspiracy to perjury because they failed to act when inaction was not an option. Instead, the likes of Graham Spanier, Joe Paterno, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, men of extraordinary power at an extraordinarily powerful university, did more damage by not coming forward with what they knew and when they knew it.

But what now? Paterno is gone, and his legacy remains up for debate. He was cleared by the grand jury of any legal implications after passing information up the chain of command. Argue whether he did enough morally, but in the eyes of the law, Paterno did what was required.

He left it to those in charge, and those people fell short of their duties. Joe Paterno deserves a reckoning and a fairer public verdict than he has so far received. Are we there, yet?