Could This Happen Anywhere?

By Elika on July 27, 2012 at 1:05p
62 Comments

Over the past nine months, the world has watched the development of what's been called the biggest scandal in the history of college football. What's happened at Penn State, however, is actually much greater than that. It's the single biggest scandal in the history of sports, period. In fact, everything we've learned about the past 14 years in State College, over the past nine months, has redefined what a sports scandal can be. It's sickening.

Since November, I've been rather outspoken regarding most aspects of the Jerry Sandusky case, and the resulting aftermath at Penn State. This approach doesn't always win friends, but it does provide for some incredibly thought-provoking discussions over time. It seems one question that has come up rather often in these conversations has been, "Could this have happened somewhere else?" Those that ask are well aware they're asking someone with Ohio State affiliations, so I would imagine what they're really asking is, "Could this have happened in Columbus, at Ohio State?" It's a fair question to ask.

At first glance, there are many similarities between Penn State and Ohio State. Namely, that each has a top football program with a proud history, a large stadium, a passionate fan base, and prominent figures throughout their narratives. In fact, my first reaction to the question was to say, "Of course, it could happen anywhere!" Let's be honest, pedophilia isn't caused by something in the State College water. Sandusky's vicious crimes happen in every neighborhood, every day. 

In stepping back and examining further, however, the Penn State scandal isn't just about the heinous acts committed by one monster at the football facilities on Penn State's campus. What escalated Sandusky's dreadful crimes to the point of being the worst scandal in the history of sports, had much more to do with years of coverup, at multiple levels, by multiple people.

As atrocious as Sandusky's acts were, it was the inaction of so many others that led us to the point. And it's easy to blame the coverup of Sandusky's crimes on a frenzied football culture, which Ohio State also has. So, how did they get here? And, since child molestation and rape do happen everywhere, unfortunately, what allowed it to continue in Happy Valley for as long as it did?

As mentioned before, and as Mark Emmert repeatedly addressed during his press conference, Penn State has a rather fanatical football culture, but I beg to differ that a community buying into its football program is the sole catalyst here. Ohio State, Alabama, West Virginia, Texas Tech and Oregon all have a frenzied culture as well. Could any one of those schools, or any others around the country, have a pedophile on their coaching staff? Absolutely. What Sandusky did, could absolutely happen anywhere. It's awful, but it's true.

The entire situation, on the other hand, couldn't happen just anywhere. The perfect storm just happened to be brewing in State College. In addition to a criminal on its coaching staff, a top football program, and a frenzied football culture, Penn State had nothing keeping its leader in check. No real bosses, no real threat of being told what to do, and most importantly... no turnover. Paterno's apologists will tell you that the media paints a picture of him as someone who ran the school, and they'll claim that isn't true, but that is laughable.

Joe Paterno coached at Penn State for 61 years, 46 of those years as a head coach. We all realize how long Paterno had been there, but to really put that into perspective, among current NCAA Division I FBS head coaches in BCS conferences, the ten most tenured coaches average less than 13 years at their current positions.

Paterno's tenure at Penn State not only racked up hundreds of victories, it elevated his control over the university to the point where in 2004, when asked for his resignation, Paterno simply said "Nah, I'm good. I think I'll stay. Thanks for coming," before kicking his supposed "bosses" out of his home. Where else could this happen?

Frank Beamer is the longest tenured active head coach, having coached at Virginia Tech since 1987. Would Virginia Tech allow Beamer to pull such a stunt? Of course not. I'd venture to guess that there isn't another college football program in the country that would allow themselves to be bullied by their head coach.

Imagine, for a moment, that Paterno had the decency to use his dictator status at Penn State to speak up for the victims that couldn't speak up for themselves. Would this have happened?

Imagine for a moment, that the adminstrators at Penn State didn't care if Paterno felt it was more humane to keep Sandusky's behavior internal. Would this have continued?

Imagine that Paterno hadn't become this larger than life figure, and in a way done the same for Sandusky, so that a group of janitors wouldn't have been so scared to report something that as human beings we shoud have an obligation to report. Would this have stopped?

Imagine Mike McQueary walked in on a man raping a child, only this monster wasn't a man he's looked up to since he was a child. Would he have done more to stop it, than just slamming a locker loudly?

Over decades, Paterno created a mirage that Penn State was about "success with honor." It served him well, for awhile. For awhile, he was the winningest coach in college football. For awhile, he was a legend. For awhile, he was a hero. And for awhile, Penn State was held hostage and more victims were abused.

I used to wish I was able to experience the days of legendary coaches that were so closely associated with the programs they led, such as Woody Hayes, Bear Bryant, and even Bo Schembechler. It was romantic, in a way, but perhaps it's not so bad that the sport has moved on.


If you know of or suspect child abuse, please call the anonymous hotline at: 1-800-4-A-CHILD.

62 Comments

Comments

BrewstersMillions's picture

Absolutely not. This would have occurred at only Penn State because only at Penn state was a coach's word SO powerful that common sense went out of the window. I have a real guilty pleasure in actively seeking out things that annoy me. Currently on my Twitter feed are updates from national hate mongers One Million Moms. I also started following TEAMOUTLAWPSU for even more delicious stupidity but above all of this-Black Shoe Diaries is serving as my daily fix for "what will make me get pissed off today?". Today PSU announced its first signing since their sanctions came down the pipe. A non ranked player from Arizona who said "its still Linebacker U, people still want to go there" and naturally endeared himself to the mouth breathers that are PSU fans. What followed in that article is about 150 comments from about 100 people all proclaiming this kids status as a legend for committing to THE MOST EMBARASSED SPORTS ORGANIZATION IN THE WORLD. Nothing people say or do anymore affects Penn State fans, and any attempts at a logical outline of facts and reality only serves as fuel for their "WE ARE" mentality. The mindset around this entire group of people is utterly terrifying.

Do I come off as arrogant? Shame on me, I was hoping it would more obvious.

Nappy's picture

Yeah, I dont think this happens elsewhere either.  Just a perfect storm of arrogance and stupidity.   

Fan of bacon since 1981

CincyOSU's picture

I guess my question is....why do you WANT to be annoyed/pissed off? If you think the opinions of said groups are so outrageous why even give it the time of day? I mean no disrespect as I usually agree with your posts, but you seem to have a tough time letting this Penn State thing go. It's going to take some time to change the mindset there....even longer at fringe fansites like BSD. No need to get your blood pressure so jacked up....we have bigger and better things to talk about in regards to our own team.

BrewstersMillions's picture

Ciny, your guess is as good as mine. It would be easy to unfollow or not check BSD. I do have a tough time letting this PSU thing go and its a total losing battle because their fans have swung so far in the other direction and are actually embracing this new 'outlaw, us against the world' thing. Its like fighting a war on drugs. You aren't fighting people or other tangible items but rather an attitude (or addiction in my analogy) and that is a war that can not be won. I totally agree its something I should let go because it isn't changing but they are called guilty pleasures for a reason, you know?

Do I come off as arrogant? Shame on me, I was hoping it would more obvious.

45buckshot's picture

There's a great book by Sinclair Lewis called "It Can't Happen Here." For the literary, it's worth a read. (It's main premise is about facism, but i think it also applies here.)
So the answer needs to be yes, it can happen here. It can happen anywhere. Thinking that it can't happen is one of the prerequisites for it to happen. If you stay aware that it can happen, then you put safeguards in place to make sure it doesn't.
Without those (who knew back in 1437 that JoePa would coach for a 1,000 years?) then you're in danger.
Learn yourself what the danger signs are, keep an eye out--that's the only way to prevent this from happening here.
--"An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind." Gandhi

Veni, vidi, vici

UM3

Earle's picture

Power tends to corrupt, absolute power corrupts absolutely. History is littered with examples, and this is just the latest.

Italics are for emphasis.

nickma71's picture

History has shown that cliche to be not true. Just thought I would give someobody something to think about....

buckeyedude's picture

That cliche has got to be the most overused in the history of cliches. But damnit, it IS TRUE.  
Just look at most of our politicians.

 

 

hcazualcc's picture

joe paterno should have been fired several times but his legacy was too big at that point

schooey's picture

Yes, it could happen anywhere. Paterno's "bosses" wanted it covered up as well, I don't think he told them that snitches get stitches. Any other fan base would react the same as well. There is little unique about PSU in this situation, in my opinion. 

Elika's picture

Tressel was loved at OSU. He lost his job over what essentially boils down to tattoos. Nobody rioted and flipped over cars. Paterno lost his job over what essentially boiled down to child-rape... RIOTS. You don't think there was a slight sense of delusion that had taken over State College, as a result of his tenure?

How firm thy friendship... OH-I-O!

CincyOSU's picture

I think had all the facts about Paterno been laid out before he was fired things may have been more calm. Of course the diehard, head in the sand crowd would likely be unaffected, but most of the rational fanbase would have been more accepting.

slicksickle's picture

Don't forget Gee's dreadful comment 'I just hope he doesn't fire me'. That, in itself, made it seem like OSU had a culture that was similar to that at PSU. It was shown that the Vest could be removed quite easily, and it was necessary, but the idolatry of coaches because of a sport is obviously demonstrable.

Elika's picture

Let's also not forget that Gee's comment was a joke... and he's known for making them in poor taste, at times. Actions speak louder than words.

How firm thy friendship... OH-I-O!

Run_Fido_Run's picture

Actions speak louder than words.

Yes, true. This round goes to Elika.

doodah_man's picture

And let's not forget that the truth is at the heart of most humor....

Jim "DooDah" Day
It is hard to play dirty against a man who picks you up.

slicksickle's picture

Yes, it was a joke. We all know that. It's just the idea that he seemingly put Vest above him and distastefully said it to the media. Gee is well known for making bad comments, and this was one of them. Sadly, if Spanier had said the same thing, he wouldn't have been joking.

sharkvsghost's picture

I think the delusion factor is the important point here. It's worth remembering that this is the fan base who spent the better part of two decades beating us over the head with their perceived superior moral sense, while some of them were throwing bottles of urine at our marching band.

swing hard in case you hit it.

Poison nuts's picture

Interesting that you linked this. If you click on this article and read down in the comments section you'll see PSU fans making light of the incident & then turning around & calling OSU fans arrogant & ignorant. One comment started out by saying: "While, in my opinion, The The Ohio State University Marching Band is overrated and arrogant," blah blah blah. Then there was the video of the beer cans being thrown at OSU fans.
I've tried to tell myself that there are plenty more good than bad PSU fans but sometimes I wonder...As for this happening elsewhere (cover up of a pedophile) - I doubt it. This was a case of abuse of an outrageous amount of power gained over decades & decades.  The fans reactions were facilitated by decades & decades of believing that the football coach was a deity in a town that is a bubble insulated from the outside world . I have a very difficult time believing this could happen anywhere else unless the circumstances were identical.

"Death created time to grow the things that it would kill" - Detective Rustin Cohle.

schooey's picture

Exactly, Joe Paterno was PSU, hence the riots. That was before the extent of the coverup was known. Now it turns out that the coverup went beyond the football program. I would not say that Paterno was fired for child rape; seems rather incendiary considering he did not do so. And I do think that faced with the same situation, essentially the death penalty, that our fan base would react in a very similar manner. 

Elika's picture

Well what I meant was that Joe Paterno's firing boiled down to child rape in the same way that Tressel's boiled down to tattoos. Neither did the original action, both could've done more about the situation. You would think the fact that the crimes on one campus were actual crimes, and not victimless ones at that, would've provided a bit more perspective to those who chose to riot.

How firm thy friendship... OH-I-O!

bucktooth's picture

So, if Tress reported what he knew, would he have been fired?  No?  Ok then, Tressel's firing doesn't really boil down to tattoos then.  Bucktoooooth, heeyaw.

CincyOSU's picture

Just like Paterno would not have been fired had he reported what he knew...

Elika's picture

Check the comment above, where I clarified the meaning behind that statement.

How firm thy friendship... OH-I-O!

bucktooth's picture

Ah, yes.  The 'ol switch-a-roo.  Clever and noted.  Bucktoooooth, heeyaw.

BuckeyeSki's picture

Another fine example of the comments section going to hell in a handbasket...stay classy

Banned from BlackShoeDiaries since 2008. Crime: Slander/Defamation of Character Judgement: Guilty

Hoody Wayes's picture

Lots of troubling behavior and strange vexations, in the wake of Paterno's ouster.
 

AltaBuck's picture

If you place Paterno in Tressel's situation, there is no way in hell the PSU compliance dept turns over the Cicero emails to the NCAA. Not in the PSU culture we have come to know. That's the difference. Paterno created that culture and perpatuated it.

I have been known on occasion to howl at the moon. - Crash Davis

Bucks43201's picture

right on, Elika!

"You win with people." - Woody Hayes

buckeyedude's picture

Truth be told, when the Tatgate scandal first broke, I was angry...Not at Tressel or the players responsible, but at all of the Haters attacking them. It CAN happen anywhere.
The Paterno apologists are still in a state of shock and denial, the first stages. It's going to take years for them to face reality.

 

 

Hoody Wayes's picture

Many have been invoking Lord Acton, lately: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."
This is why I'm for term limits, for elected officials. 46 years? Paterno was the big fish in a little pond, far too long. And he wasn't swimmin' alone.
But, Woody's actions on the night of December 29, 1978 were elements of a visceral and extemporaneous response to, something, in that moment - whether it be the way Schlichter was handled by Clemson players during the interception or what Charlie Bauman did or said or the play, itself. He got pissed during the 1977 Michigan game, when Rod Gerald got hit and fumbled, ending the Buckeyes' chances of a comeback. ABC had a camera operator, immediately to Woody's right. Woody did the hat slam and then, went after the camera guy. And he went off on the refs during the 1971 Michigan game, tearing up yard-markers and throwing stuff into the stands. These events were, live and nationally-televised.
And, I think people egged him on. Up here in Northwest Ohio, at the time, we got the Sunday Detroit News and Free-Press. Sportswriter Joe Falls of the News - regularly - referred to Woody, not by name, but as, "The Fat Man" in his write-ups of Ohio State-Michigan games. Nobody wants to read that kind of stuff about himself.
Did Woody's career meet an ignominious end? Yes. Did he have anger issues? Yeah. But, his repudiators were no better.
I'll tell'ya this: I met Woody Hayes. I shook his hand. And I'll always admire him.
 
 
  

bassplayer7770's picture

In a book I read, some players said Woody had not been taking his diabetic meds or something along those lines, and they felt that might have been part of his problem that day.  Regardless, he did get fired for his actions.

schooey's picture

Woody's temper tantrums were great. I remember the adults (I was just a child) being really excited, yelling and stomping, just as pissed off as he was! Ah, the 70s. 

hodge's picture

Read War as they Knew It, Woody's tantrum in the Gator Bowl wasn't the first punch he threw at a player, he constantly struck his own.  His successor, Earle Bruce, would meet his end at Colorado State for verbal and physical abuse towards his players.  But threre was so much more to both men: neither deserve to be defined by their flaws.  In fact, I don't believe there was ever a coach who cared more about his players than Woody Hayes.  He was irascible, and his temper got the best of him many a time, but he was an incredibly decent human being: much the opposite of Paterno, his flaws were exposed to the public constantly, but the actions that defined the man that he was--the hospital visits, the refused raises, the charity donations, his commitment to education--all happened behind closed doors.

Poison nuts's picture

WORD!

"Death created time to grow the things that it would kill" - Detective Rustin Cohle.

Jdadams01's picture

One big difference is this: if I remember correctly, the AD offered to let Woody resign and Woody said, "no, you have to fire me. This is a fireable offense." He knew what he had done was terrible and he didnt deserve to save face. JoePa would have reacted in the opposite, methinks. That's all you need to know about the kind of man Woody was.

onetwentyeight's picture

[TL;DR warning]
 
I think the difference here between OSU/Alabama/WV etc all the schools listed and PSU is that, to put it roughly, the fanatic devotion to CFB in the first category resemble "religions" and in PSU's case it was more of a "cult". 
No matter what your overall view of religion is, when somebody says they're a Buddhist/Christian/Muslim, etc you generally don't feel afraid or worried. It's not seen as particularily dangerous. The majority of the world's population believe in some religion, often extremely fervantly. To me, this is analogous to most "crazy" CFB fanbases. 
On the other hand, if you find out that your best friend or significant other has begun to attend cult meetings, you kind of automatically and naturally get warning signs flashing through your head. Being a member of a cult does not garner the same "mainstream" acceptance that normal people afford religious people. Why is that? It's because cults are seen (rightfully so) as dangerous. 
Why do we have freedom of religion but tend to feel cults are dangerous and should be closely monitored? Because of the issue of power. In cults, the "founder" is usually 1. still alive & not dead 2. exercising absolute, unchallenged power. Usually this comes when they create the said cult out of whole cloth (see: ie Scientology), or when they break off from the more "mainstream" parent religion for whatever reason (aka the outlaw mormon polygamist sects). Thus, by definition, cults exist due to the nature of the power their leader holds. Otherwise they'd either never have been formed, or would have stayed in whatever religion they "broke off" from. 
And here's why PSU was different: PSU was a cult. JoePa was the founder, legend, god, leader, etc of the entire PSU football program. Power was absolutely concentrated in his hands. That's why this decade-plus coverup was allowed to happen. State College residents were by and large members of a CULT. I don't say this lightly. It's not because they rabidly loved their team. We do too. Most cult members aren't any more devoted than your average, god-fearing christian or muslim that prays, tithes, goes on mission trips, etc. The difference is what they are devoted TO. In the cases of "normal" religion / most football-crazy schools, the answer is some type of program, ideology, belief, or tradition which transcends any one person. 
In the case of cults (PSU included), they are devoted to ONE DUDE. When that happens, then it's extremely easy to get people to do things like idk commit mass suicide or bomb subway stations or COVER UP CHILD RAPE because only THAT ONE DUDE is in charge & you always do what he says. 

Say during Tressel's regime a Sandusky was prowling Columbus. Say Todd Boeckman happens upon it in a McQuery Moment. What happens? Would JT try to cover it up? Let's just assume for this hypo that he wants to. Would he succeed? ABSOLUTELY NOT. Why? Because SOMEONE along the way, in the school, would realize that THE PROGRAM and its HISTORY was bigger in the grand scheme of things than Tressel's (Admittedly huge) legacy. This person would then blow the whistle on Tressel in order to expose the lie and "save" the long term existence of the Program. You could even invoke Woody and Bruce and be like, what would THEY have done in this case?
BUT in PSU's case, what was bigger to them than JoePa's legacy? NOTHING. There was nothing about the program in their minds that was bigger than JoePa and so worth 'saving' other than JoePa's legacy. That's why Curley, Schultz, Spanier, etc just listened to what Joe said and buried it all. 
[added: it's also why their fanbase RIOTED when Joe was fired, still question the Freeh report, and continue to display mass cognitive dissonance. It's like when that doomsday Harold Camping guy predicted the world was gonna end and it DIDN'T and some of his followers just tried to come up with alternative BS explanations. Because they can't accept to themselves that they devoted their lives to a Lie. It's the exact same thing you see now in State college, on BSD, etc etc]
 

schooey's picture

Come on man, comparing PSU fans to Scientologists is really cruel, over the top, in my opinion. Paterno could not have had too many more seasons left either. How would cult succession work? 
 

onetwentyeight's picture

I don't know, how would it? Remember how they RIOTED when he was fired? 

Hoody Wayes's picture

People really like - or need - to escape, their realities. Football is a venue for these escapees.
So, when reality encroaches upon that "turf"...maybe they're being territorial, in a way, when they expurgate and riot, like they have, in "Happy Valley."
Maybe there's a collective guilt-by-association, being felt by that fanbase? 
One post on BSD noted Hester Prynne, the central character in "The Scarlett Letter." The commenter was asking - bitterly and incredulously - if "We are Penn State!" now means something sordid, like the letter "A" was to Boston's Puritans. 
Perhaps, this is true. Who would trade places with them? No one envies a Penn State fan.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

Okay, this is amusing, but I'm not ready to publish your theory in an academic social scientific journal just yet.

Rfahncke's picture

The question is not "can" this happen, but "does" this happen anywhere else.
The answer to that question is YES.  YES it ABSOLUTELY does happen elsewhere.  It happens in huge places like Penn State and it happens in small towns all across Ohio and the country. 
When persons of power or prestige in any community want to protect their own reputations or friends reputations cover ups will happen.  The ramifications of those damaged reputations become the most important thing to these individuals and the loss of innocence in a child is brushed aside.  When you're talking about advancing a career, protecting a career, or any other type of personal family/friend protection these cover ups happen.  Whether the "law" in town is a Head Football Coach, a police chief, or a wealthy business person, people can and will listen to these persons and protect their own livelyhoods.  This is a very sad but true reality.  The reality is that grown,once respectable adults disregard the childs emotions and life but the overall effects of those betrayals last a lifetime.  These young men at PSU are in for a long struggle with self-worth and many other emotional aspects.  Again, sadly, there are kids everywhere who are facing the same struggles.  Some of those kids are just starting their journey and some of them are struggling young adults.  The pathetic adults who partake in these coverups are just as guilty as the disgusting pedophiles that they protect.  They should be utterly ashamed of themselves and  may God have mercy on their souls. 
 
That is the longest 11W rant I'll ever partake in.  Sorry folks, Go Bucks!

"Have you earned your buckeye today?"

hodge's picture

This article reminds me of when the whole story dropped, arguably the shadiest coach of all time--Barry Switzer--went on record saying, "There's no way that Paterno didn't know what was going on."
Cover-ups happen all the time in the NCAA, but none ever so bereft of humanity.  This only could have happened at a place like Penn State, where hero worship knew no bounds: allowing a living legend to be a de-facto judge, jury, and exocutioner--all whilst hiding behind the facade of being a mere "football coach".
If these scandals of the past two years have taught us anything, it's that we cannot be content to allow our programs complete autonomy.  We may reap the initial benefits, but we put ourselves at risk to long-term detriment when we adopt Penn State's Board of Trustees' "I don't wanna hear, I don't wanna know" philosophy.  OSU compliance did it, North Carolina compliance did it, Miami compliance did it, and countless others have done and are doing it currently.  I'm glad that we're over this mentality (at least here), because momentary greatness is never worth coming at the expense our future.
My heart breaks for Sandusky's victims, and also for Penn Staters abroad: they were failed by the men they placed the most trust in--men who themselves failed their basic moral and legal obligations of humanity.  I hope with all my heart that this never happens again.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

I'm not prepared to excuse Paterno in any way, shape, or form. Yet, your point does potentially mitigate against seeing the PSU failure mainly in terms of evil individuals:

If these scandals of the past two years have taught us anything, it's that we cannot be content to allow our programs complete autonomy.

Part of the reason we cannot allow our programs complete autonomy is because such atmospheres are not conducive to responsible and ethical behavior and stewardship - i.e., such autonomy is not consistent with a healthy "institutional culture" and over time that contributes to its corruption.
If that's true, though, this unhealthy culture will tend to morally drag down the individuals operating within it. Again, I'm not excusing anyone's behavior, but maybe a bad culture will tend to contribute to highly ethical persons acting in only moderately ethical ways and semi-ethical persons turning into fiendish bastards, etc. Culture and individual ethics, a two-way street.
From what I've heard, Joe Paterno is not directly quoted (say, via email) in the Freeh report. It's only secondhand, "Joe thinks we should . . . " Well, if Joe was perceived to be all-powerful within the PSU institution, any chance that he said somethings that were misconstrued but that no one had the balls to double-check with him on?
I don't know. But I do have a hard time reconciling the idea that it was a diseased institutional culture, plus the top 4-5 people in the university heirarchy were all evil. Maybe it's a little of both, but not one or the other in purely concentrated forms?    

hodge's picture

I don't know if the entire heirarchy was inherently evil, but it's without a doubt that the BOT failed by allowing PSU's AD complete autonomy.  The heirarchy was four men who committed one heinously evil deed.  It's unclear as to what capacity they knew (I'm betting if it was 100% black-and-white, they probably act), but it is clear that they didn't care to know anymore than what they did.  They chose to discount McQueary's report as "horsing around" because they didn't have to deal with it.  They knew he'd been investigated once (JoePa lied perjured himself on this, by the way), and dismissed a second accusation at JoePa's insistence.  If they'd involved the BOT, or legal counsel, this would have been taken care of immediately--ironically, I'm betting Sandusky doesn't get convicted (though it probably would have stopped him) in that scenario--but they didn't because the BOT didn't involve themselves in JoePa's business.  He was beyond reproach there, and higher ups treated him as such--kind of like how OSU's compliance acted towards the entire football team.

buckeye76BHop's picture

This story makes me sick to my stomach.  I'm a mandated reporter and so were "all" these ppl involved at PSU.  It's not even comparable to what happened to OSU...not like you were Elika.  Your story was very well written and especially this part:

Over decades, Paterno created a mirage that Penn State was about "success with honor." It served him well, for awhile. For awhile, he was the winningest coach in college football. For awhile, he was a legend. For awhile, he was a hero. And for awhile, Penn State was held hostage and more victims were abused.

Just sad but true fact^^^^
 
 

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."

"I love football. I think it is most wonderful game in world and I despise to lose."

Woody Hayes 1913 - 1987 

Riggins's picture

I think some of it had to do with the city of State College, itself.  What's its population? 30,000? 40? They have to be one of the smallest college towns in the country with a major university. They are living in a Penn State bubble. Insulated from the world. 
I know Columbus loves the Buckeyes, but not everyone in Columbus is an Ohio State fan.  I don't know if I could name a college town in the country that owns a higher % of its hometown fanbase than State College.  It is monolithic.
Anyway, my point is that its easier to hide stuff like this when your whole group shares a common focus.  I think the "unified small town" aspect aided in the cover-up.
 
edited to clarify- I'm not saying everyone in State College knew there was a child rapist among them. I'm saying that fewer people around asking questions, overturning stones that don't quite look right, etc.  Whereas a fanbase would (innocently) not see the monster hiding in plain sight.

schooey's picture

That's a good point, about State College being so monolithic. But still, how many people were involved in the coverup? I have not read much about the details of the report but I thought that it indicated that four or five people kept what they thought they knew about Sandusky to themselves and dissuaded others from looking into the matter. 
I think that we are looking for something unique about PSU that can explain what happened. I think that it could happen almost anywhwere. If not Sandusky in the football program, what about someone else in another athletic program or better yet a professor. I could see a school covering it up not to get sued, or even possibly charged with crimes. I'm not sure that football alone made this scandel everyting that it is. 

Riggins's picture

No, I don't know if you saw my edit or not, but I wasn't implicating State College residents in the cover-up. I was just saying that with it being such a small, monolithic crowd, that there would be fewer people asking inquireing questions, noticing strange behavior, turning over stones, etc.  I think they were more than happy to trust Joe to handle his own program and stay out of his business.  And this time it burned them.

schooey's picture

I posted while you edited. I uderstand, agreed. 

Dougger's picture

FACT: The number one cause of death in children @ Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus is due to child abuse. 
onetwentyeight - I completely agree with PSU being a cult. really scary stuff. Whenever riots happen I'm inclined to believe that people partake in certain actions because they know (or think) that they're capable of getting away with it. The "group mentality" is so strong and in young adults without a fully-developed frontal cortex they probably make decisions they would look back on and say "yeah that's dumb" (i.e. flipping over cars).
Hindsight is always 20/20.. now we could say yeah well that wouldn't happen with JT, but it's a question we can never answer for sure. Hopefully PSU's the only place we will ever hear of something of this nature.. to impose something on someone innocent like that is absolutely terrible, and I hope anyone who was affected by it can get the help they need to lead a healthy life.

I like football

Bucks43201's picture

Rape can happen anywhere, but the calculated cover-up of rape? And, to this disgusting degree?...in the world of college athletics, it could only happen at a place like Penn State. Why? There was a bad combination that you'll be hard-pressed to find in other places: a lifetime-tenured coach who had a god complex. He was surrounded by enablers, and he was bigger than the Pres., the Vice Pres, the Board, (who only fired him AFTER the fact), the AD, and the local cops. Joe wanted this covered up, therefore, it was covered up. btw - Joe handpicked his AD, and many others in power positions at PSU. When McQueary reported the (second) incident to Joe in '01, in Joe's OWN words: "You did what you had to do, it's MY JOB now to figure out what we want to do." Everyone around here knows this was Joe's little fiefdom, and nobody wanted to upset "King Joe". Take the janitor incidents as an example of that. Priorities so out of whack - they were more concerned about jobs & the much to powerful football program. Joe & the other power people were so worried about the almighty football program, & the public image of the school & program over kids being raped.
When you have a janitor afraid to report a CHILD RAPE, for God's sakes...you have a systemic cultural problem.
When you have students holding a vigil to a child rapist enabling coach's statue...you have a systemic cultural problem.
When you see many students & faculty reacting to the Emmer presser with a shocked reaction as if they thought nothing would happen to the program...you have a systemic cultural problem.
This was not a problem by 4 or 5 bad guys who aren't there anymore --- it was, and to an extent, still is...a systemic cultural problem.
 

 

"You win with people." - Woody Hayes

schooey's picture

If the "systemic cultural problem" is putting football, and the money made from it, ahead of the well being of children then I think this can and does happen elsewhere. 
 

Bucks43201's picture

yes, Schooey...but my bigger point was where else did you have a lifetime-tenured coach with a god complex, who was surrounded by yes men and enablers? What other coach practically hires all of his superiors? And, when his "superiors" try to get the head coach to step down, (in 2004), he kicks them out of his kitchen! Only Penn State, brother.

"You win with people." - Woody Hayes

schooey's picture

Yes, PSU's football situation was indeed unique. I'm just not convinced that this particular scandal  could only have happend at PSU or even because of the importance of football for PSU. I think that given the nature of the crime, many institutions would be tempted to try to brush it under the rug, which is what happened before it become a full-blown coverup. I guess I am cynical but I suspect that put in the same position, more people would want to avoid it rather than address it, especially small players like the janitor. And I do not think that that is unique to PSU. 
On the otherhand, If this could only happen under the unique cirmcumstances of Happy Valley, then I guess we should consider that a blessing. 

Bucks43201's picture

...yes, true -- perhaps a blessing of sorts...it's just sick that a lot of this after 1998 could have been prevented by those in power at PSU...but, I agree

"You win with people." - Woody Hayes

Bucks43201's picture

Here's a little side story. Nothing huge, but it's just a little reminder of just how much power Joe had not only at Penn State, but around State College. My family & I live in PA, a few hours from State College. Needless to say - there's more PSU fans than OSU fans around us. But, a close family friend who we stay with at OSU/PSU games in State College, told us something interesting about Joe. They are lifelong PSU fans, and know the Paterno family, but have always said that he behaves almost in a "dictator-like" fashion.
Anyways...a few years back, (I think it may have been the 2005 game which we lost up there, it was raining a lot...I think it was that game), Joe pulled one of his tricks. This family was telling us that at the time the Ohio State team plane was en route to land at the airport in State College -- it was raining at the time --- but it was nothing too bad. Anyways, every single plane was allowed to land on time...except one: the OSU plane. Joe Paterno used the weather as an excuse & called one of his minions in charge at the airport, who then denied the OSU team plane the right to land at the State College airport, and instead, directed them to a different airport a few hours way...just to inconvenience them & throw them off their schedule. They say he often did things like this...and had many people around not just State College, but central PA, taking his orders in the name of PSU Football. Apparently, he did other things that were similar to this. Take it for what it's worth, but, trust that it comes from a good source who is a big PSU fan. I'm not saying this is a big story or anything, but just another example of how much of a phony little dictator this guy Paterno was. It's one thing if you're Jimmy Johnson or Barry Switzer --- people would have expected something like that. But, if your Joe Paterno & Penn State and you have this "holier than thou art" tone you preach about your program, and the "Success with Honor" mantra -- it's nothing more than phony, and you shouldn't preach those kind of virtues.

"You win with people." - Woody Hayes

rdubs's picture

I think that due to JoePa's tenure and stranglehold over the football program (just ask Triponey who tried to discipline some of the players) the compliance office (and therefore compliance culture) lagged behind the times.  The job of the compliance office is to confess your sins to the NCAA every year.  I would argue that the more secondary violations you have, the better your compliance office.  But clearly there was no culture of confession or transparency.  
Also if we convince ourselves that this couldn't happen anywhere, we let ourselves fall into a place where it could happen.  Vigilance is always needed because the fact is that it could happen anywhere that people are willing to look the other way.

TheShadow's picture

BASSPLAYER7770,
Sally Pont in her book "Fields of Honor" speaks of Woody Hayes diabetic condition. 
Page 121—123
"Within Hayes's thick bark lurked type 2 diabetes—with which he was diagnosed at the age of fifty in 1963—perhaps the most subtle and misunderstood disease. If unmanaged for several years, it can foster blindness, paraplegia, death. If ignored for only a day, it can decimate consciousness so completely that action is independent of mind, memory, and even morals.
On more than one occasion, Bo Schembechler has pointed to Hayes's diabetes. Bo reported that Hayes sometimes failed to follow the prescribed regimen for type 2 diabetes. Specifically, Hayes did not always take the prescribed oral medication he was supposed to: sulfonylureas, a drug designed to encourage the pancreas to produce more insulin. However, even if he were faithful in taking his medication, it had a pronounced side effect: it often caused hypoglycemia, particularly in those with erratic eating habits.
That fact, accompanied by an understanding of Hayes's lifestyle, which couldn't possibly allow for the dietary and other personal regulations diabetes demands, confirms Schembechler's conclusion: Hayes's blood sugar was "out of whack." Deep in a hypoglycemic haze, a crippled version of Hayes slugged that player without even knowing he did it.
Bo Schembechler rushed to set up a meeting with his friend. He found a midway point between Columbus and Ann Arbor, the Bowling Green house of their old colleague Doyt Perry. When Schembechler first broached the topic of the event, Hayes had no recollection of hitting the Clemson player, Only after watching the film would he fully accept what had happened.
Because pointing to an illness could be perceived as making excuses, at least in 1978, Hayes accepted the university's decision to usher out the old man. That stoicism fits Hayes's character. Moreover, with his endless days, incessant traveling, unpredictable mealtimes, spontaneous nocturnal forays to rush to the aid of athletes, colleagues, former athletes... he scarcely sustained the moderate lifestyle that diabetes demands.
To this day, Ohio State's Web site writes off Hayes's behavior in the Gator Bowl as a "temper tantrum." It's still not okay to admit being sick. It seems to be regarded not as a viable explanation, but as a cheap way out.
Despite his prominence in not only Ohio but also the rest of the country, Woody Hayes kept his home number listed in the local phone book. To have an unlisted number would have, no doubt, struck Hayes as a pretension. He wasn't one to pretend he was someone he was not.
That Hayes kept his diabetes to himself, though, is not an inconsistency, because his toughness had, for so long, canceled out his illness. It is, However, an irony that his only secret is the thing that, in the end, left him most exposed."
So, there you have it, the rest of the story. Most folks never heard that part of the story in 1978 and to this day those outside of Ohio only think of the Gator Bowl incident when they think of Woddy Hayes. Sally Pont's book is an excellent read and really does a good job examining the lives of some the old school coaches who demonstrated great character that came out of the Cradle of Coaches at Miami University. 
 
 

grant87's picture

God I hope there isn't anywhere that this could have or might happen again be duplicated.  It is unthinkable that they made the choice PSU empire and $$$ over the welfare of children.  They made it more than once...insane!
 

Maybe tomorrow, when today will be yesterday things will be clearer.

GO BUCKS !!