Traverse City Record-Eagle

Other Views

July 14, 2012

Another View: Culture led to undoing

It should have been a day of revelation for Penn State.

The Nittany Lion Nation should have awakened to the realization that the results of the Freeh report, an internal investigation into how the university handled the child sexual abuse committed by former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, were a condemnation not just of Penn"ˆState's senior leadership but of the entire culture surrounding the school. ...

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that television sets ... where students had gathered to watch CNN's coverage of the Freeh report, abruptly switched to a public access channel ... just as the findings were released.

When students complained ... they were told that a university employee ... had control over what was shown.

So, even as Freeh lambasted the Penn State leaders who had "repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky's child abuse," the university appeared to be trying to hide the report from its own students.

It's sadly emblematic of the problems that have permeated Penn"ˆState, according to Freeh.

His report lashed out at former university President Graham Spanier, Athletic Director Tim Curley, Vice President Gary Schultz and late football coach Joe Paterno for their actions and inactions.

"The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized," Freeh said. ...

For the past eight months, fans and alumni have done everything they could to save the reputation of Paterno, who had become such a symbol of the university that to besmirch him was to denigrate everything that Penn State stood for. . . .

But Paterno made a number of bad decisions regarding Sandusky, Freeh's report found.

From not confronting Sandusky when the first allegation surfaced in 1998 to not limiting the retired assistant's access to the football facilities to not acting quickly or forcefully enough when told of Sandusky's actions in the shower, Paterno had plenty of opportunities to intervene, but he put himself, the football program and the school's reputation ahead of the victims.

We don't see how anyone with a straight face and a clear conscience can defend Paterno any longer. ...

To even argue that point is to succumb to the same blind allegiance to Penn"ˆState football that allowed this travesty to happen in the first place.

The Tribune-Democrat, Johnstown, Pa.

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