The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

The Rave

July 12, 2012

What went wrong in Happy Valley

The Paterno family has been desperately trying to salvage Joe Paterno's reputation.

It is unfortunate that the Freeh report was released this week, months after Paterno's passing. Any person should have an opportunity to speak for themselves and repair damage caused by such information.

But as the report findings indicate, there were many people in positions to make the correct choices. None of them did.

Football coaches and high-ranking officials were worried about protecting the football program's interests. The Freeh report, in several instances, references the football program as a partial culprit. The investigation revealed: "A culture of reverence for the football program that is ingrained at all levels of the campus community."

The "culture" led to a janitor not reporting an assault he witnessed in 2000. Another janitor believed officials would close ranks to protect the athletics program.

Penn State is a fine institution with a successful football program, but in an effort to protect it and the university from bad publicity, officials allowed a problem to fester and grow.

Had school officials and police investigated without the revered football program in mind during the first assault, how many fewer victims would there be now?

According to Freeh's report, university Senior Vice President of Finance and Business Gary C. Schultz's confidential notes in 1998 include references to Jerry Sandusky's suspected sexual improprieties, a reference to opening a Pandora's Box and the possibility that other children might be involved.

That case was dismissed, but more information was withheld when the next instance was reported to Paterno in 2001. A decade later, Sandusky was finally arrested, tried and convicted. While the report blames four of the most powerful officials at the school for making poor decisions, it also cites failures by the board of trustees to monitor the school's president, Graham B. Spanier, and to provide reporting procedures to ensure disclosure of major risks to the university, among other things.

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