By Mike From Woburn, 98.5 The Sports Hub Contributor
BOSTON (CBS) — On Tuesday a new report of unsealed court documents detailed further evidence that the sexual abuse of minors was reported to Penn State Officials or PSU head football coach Joe Paterno himself. And both PSU supporters and the NCAA should be ashamed of themselves.
Four of these allegations predate the infamous 1998 abuse allegations that prompted the eventual investigation, sanctions against the University and the trial and incarceration of convicted sex offender and child predator Jerry Sandusky. Joe Paterno’s alleged response to one of Sandusky’s victims who appealed to him for help in 1976 was, “I don’t want to hear about any of that kind of stuff, I have a football season to worry about.”
This comes less than two years after the NCAA settled a lawsuit challenging its authority to rule on the matter.
Every member of the PSU community responsible for that suit or that still lobbies for the restoration of Paterno’s statue should be ashamed of themselves. And every member of the NCAA involved in that settlement should resign today.
The behavior of PSU staff and supporters in the wake of this tragedy has been – and continues to be – embarrassing. That is undeniable and, unfortunately, expected from a region and fan base so fanatically brainwashed that it would prioritize the wins and accomplishments of a man who enabled a sex offender above the children Jerry Sandusky preyed upon.
What is more outrageous and disappointing is the behavior of the NCAA.
These allegations, if true, basically confirm what we all thought years ago: that Joe Paterno and the rest of the Penn State University staff were aware of Sandusky’s behavior and did absolutely nothing about it. Because of this inaction, Sandusky was allowed to remain in a position to prey on youth for now what is evidently decades.
If the NCAA didn’t settle with PSU backers over whether they had the authority to apply penalties to PSU over Sandusky’s behavior – and the alleged cover-up by Paterno and other members of his staff and athletic department – these new allegations would be coming out in court, not only further sullying the forever tarnished image of Paterno and his supporters but also exposing those behind the suit as soulless, unrepentant sycophants.
If the NCAA’s job is to govern the scope of college sports and uphold the “highest levels of integrity” … you shut your doors and close up shop when you chose to settle on an issue like this.
Free Tattoos? Out-of-compliance meals? Gifts to players? Scalping tickets? The NCAA is there every time to make sure even the smallest violations are dealt with.
Multiple members of a University allegedly aid and abet a convicted sexual predator, and the NCAA not only settled but restored the wins they stripped from Paterno and the University from 1998 on. The very same NCAA that gave the “death penalty” to SMU for payments that are literally pocket change to the over $90 million that Penn State has paid to Sandusky’s victims in settlements.
There should have been no sports, let alone football, for at least a year to reflect how deep the cover up went, and Beaver Stadium should have been left empty for so long the local fauna should have been able to reclaim it like one of Brazil’s rainforest World Cup Soccer stadiums. Maybe then the “Paterno Truthers” and the #AllWinsMatter Alumni crowd would have enough time away from following football to understand the consequences the inaction of their “icons” had. 409 career wins or a statue shouldn’t be Paterno’s legacy at PSU. Making the number 409 the new police code for a sexual assault on a minor would be infinitely more appropriate memento of Paterno’s alleged indifference.
Now if the NCAA gave up and settled simply because they thought they were going to lose the case against Penn State, then they should have gone ahead and taken the L. Fight in court for as much time as possible and drag out the proceedings for as long as you can to make sure that every single avenue for victory, however implausible, is exhausted and every one of Paterno’s morally reprehensible supporters are forced to expose themselves on the record. Even a verdict in Penn State’s favor after a protracted legal battle would send a message that the NCCA won’t stand for this kind of behavior even if a violation may technically fall outside of the NCAA’s jurisdiction.
But the NCAA surrendered the moral high ground and settled with those who continue to deify college football and a man whose alleged indifference enabled the abuse of children.
And if they’re not willing to fight on this, then they should give up trying to rule college sports entirely and let another group take the reins. If the cover-up of the sexual abuse of children isn’t the NCAA’s very definition of the “The Hill We Will Die On,” then collegiate athletics deserves a new governing body with an updated interpretation.
Mike From Woburn, formerly known as Mike From Attleboro, is a regular caller to the Felger & Massarotti Show. You can find him on Twitter @MikeFromWoburn.