Needless to say this is a sad day for Penn State fans. It’s a tough pill to swallow for many people who follow the Nittany Lions football team. According to a scathing internal report issued on Thursday, Joe Paterno and other Penn State officials hushed up child sex abuse allegations against Jerry Sandusky more than a decade ago for fear of bad publicity, allowing Sandusky to prey on other youngsters.
“Our most saddening and sobering finding is the total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky’s child victims by the most senior leaders at Penn State,” said former FBI director Louis Freeh, who was hired by university trustees to look into what has become one of the sports’ biggest scandals. “The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized.”
This is a huge scandal. That’s going to take a long time for people to get over. Penn State was held in such high regard when it comes to intercollegiate sports. The school had a tremendous image not only in the sports community, but in general as well.
You have to wonder how they’re going to climb out of this situation. How does a major Division I program regain its good name along with the trust of parents who would send their kids to Penn State? That’s a good question. The best thing to do is to accept this report in the spirit that it was given and then move closer toward community service, particularly in regard to youngsters.
It’s not about winning football games now. It’s not about packing Beaver Stadium in Happy Valley on Saturday afternoons in the fall or going to bowl games in January. They can sell as many season tickets as they want, but they have to rebuild their image. That takes a lot of time, work and effort. It’s not going to happen overnight.
Of course, the school is probably thinking about the possible civil suits that could come with this report or if the NCAA is going to come down on them. But they need to look past that. They need a long range approach to their long range problem.
The school should reach out to community-based organizations that work with children who have been abused. Penn State should utilize some of its resources toward making a difference with various community groups. Football brings in a lot of money for Penn State. The school makes plenty of money from television, radio, ticket sales, merchandising and other avenues. It’s time to use some of that money in a positive way that wouldn’t be self serving, but in a way that shows a genuine concern for the lives of young people.
It’s hard to say how long the healing process from this stinging report will take. Scandals eventually heal over time. Right now, Penn State has to make sure the school does the right things going forward.
Associated Press contributed to this story.