UNHAPPY VALLEY, PA – I was right.
That, of course, is not what anyone should take away from the report issued Thursday by former FBI Chief Louis Freeh about Jerry Sandusky’s reign of child terror on the Penn State University Campus. But I’m saying it anyway, because it’s the truth.
I wrote about this whole sordid affair back in November, both here and at my own site. In a nutshell, this is what I said back then:
Crap like this is more likely to happen when an institution does not remain true to its values. You should run a school like a school, a church like a church, and a business like a business. Because when you run an institution like something other than what it is supposed to be, you betray the institution’s values. And when you do that, you send the signal to everyone in the institution that the institution’s mission isn’t what’s important. The institution itself is what’s important, and that it needs to be protected at all cost.
As I noted in November, when you run a church like a business instead of a church, it opens up room for monkey business like Jerry Swaggart f’ing prostitutes, followed by the obligatory coverup. And when you run a church like a government instead of a church, it opens up room for things like Catholic priests diddling little boys, followed by the obligatory coverup.
When an an institution betrays its values and behaves as something other than what it is, that increases the chances of something going really wrong, and that there will be a coverup.
And guess what. The Freeh Report says that’s exactly what happened at Penn State.
Instead of operating like a school, the university was running itself like a business, specifically like a football factory. It betrayed its values, and that fostered the environment that encouraged the cover up. In its executive summary, the report lists eight general causes for this foul and reprehensible scandal. On page 17, The last one listed is this:
A culture of reverence for the football program that is ingrained at all levels of the campus community.
According the head of the investigation, Louis Freeh, a man as Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation from 1993-2001 was the nation’s top law enforcement official, that was a cause. Not an unbecoming symptom, but a cause.
The university betrayed its values as an institution, and that in turn contributed to a coverup. And what a coverup it was.
The people mattered most knew. The people who had the power to stop Sandusky knew. Paterno. The school president. The Athletic Director. The Sr. VP for Finance. They all knew that Jerry Sandusky was f’ing children on their campus.
They knew as far back as 1998. Fourteen years ago. And they did nothing about it. Worse, they covered it up. They “repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sundusky’s child abuse from authorities.” (p. 14) They even allowed him to continue using university facilities after his retirement in 1999, and he continued f’ing children there.
And the people beneath them? Some of them knew too. But they didn’t say anything because they were scared shitless about getting canned if did. Graduate Assistant Mike McQuery waited years to tell anyone. Three janitors who knew, including a Korean War vet who with his own eyes saw Sandusky perform fellatio on a minor in the shower, didn’t say anything. Low level employees, they were positive they would be fired if they spoke up.
What kind of university would fire people for reporting child molestation?
A university that’s not being run like a university. A school where the top priorities aren’t education. An institution that has betrayed its core values, which in turn signals everyone else that they should betray their values too if they want to remain a part of that institution. Would they have gotten fired? Who knows? That they believed it tells you what the environment was like.
I was right. But, this isn’t about I told you so. This is about owning up to the reality of big time college sports. It simply should not exist. Take it away. It’s time that we handled it like every other country in the world does, and make it a business. That’s what it is, so let it be that. And then universities can go back to being universities where hopefully things like this won’t happen anymore, and if they do, serial child molesters won’t be protected.
Cheesy Bruin tomorrow.