Recently, as I reflected back on the 2014 NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) season, I couldn’t help but think how the NCAA finally got it right by implementing a playoff system.
Even though it’s just a 4 team playoff, it was much better than the previous BCS championship system. To the surprise of many, the Ohio State Buckeyes defeated the Oregon Ducks 42-20 in the inaugural 2015 College Football Playoff National Championship game.
I was really pleased and excited about future College Football Playoff match-ups until once again, the late Joe Paterno and Penn State became hot trending topics in college football. On January 16, the NCAA reached an out of court agreement with Penn State and restored the schools 112 victories which included Paterno’s 111 taken away during the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal and the Freeh report in 2012.
Jerry Sandusky was a former assistant football coach under Joe Paterno. The Freeh report was used by the NCAA and President Mark Emmert to impose unprecedented sanctions on the Penn State football program. The University was fined $60 million, banned from bowl games for 4 years and had all 112 victories since 1998 vacated. During that time, Penn State accepted the penalties without protest, but the university later decided to challenge the legality of those sanctions. Also, keep in mind that in September 2014 the NCAA eliminated the postseason ban and restored scholarships.
The NCAA agreed to the new settlement with the school weeks before a scheduled trial on the legality of the 2012 consent decree it replaced. The new deal also directed the $60 million fine to address child abuse be spent within Pennsylvania and resolved that lawsuit.
I agree that the NCAA may have overstepped their boundaries imposing such harsh penalties, but they were caught in the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” position. If they would’ve sat back and did nothing, they would’ve been equally criticized for not taking the Sandusky scandal seriously.
Many were ecstatic about the apparent victory for Penn State over the NCAA, but it appeared that some had clearly forgotten about the victims of Jerry Sandusky. He was convicted in 2012 of sexually assaulting 10 young boys with many being abused on the Penn State campus. He was sentenced to a minimum of 30 years and a maximum of 60 years in prison. In total, the University settled 26 civil settlements with his victims, 1 which included his adopted son Matt Sandusky.
I consider this to be pyrrhic victories for both Joe Paterno and Penn State because the damage done to their once pristine reputations negates any sense of accomplishment or achievement over the NCAA.
The fact still remains from the Freeh report that Coach Joe Paterno, former Penn State President Graham Spanier and two other administrators, former Senior Vice President for Business and Finance, Gary Schultz and former athletic director Tim Curley were fully aware that Sandusky was being investigated by the university police department for a possible molestation incident in a football facility shower room in 1998. According to the report, they all followed the investigation very closely.
After no charges were filed from the alleged sexual abuse incident in 1998, Sandusky was still allowed access to campus and football facilities at Penn State. There were also alleged incidents of sexual abuse in football facility showers in 2000 and 2001. Also according to the Freeh report, all four men repeatedly concealed pertinent facts relating to Sandusky’s sexual child abuse from authorities, the board of trustees, and the public.
Spanier, Curley, and Schultz were criminally charged with perjury and failure to report suspected child abuse by Sandusky and are awaiting trials. I imagine if Paterno were still alive he would've eventually been charged as well.
Please keep in mind I’m not here to prove the guilt or innocence of any of these men, but it’s apparent that all of them exercised poor judgment by choosing not to expose a sexual predator.
According to the National Center for PTSD, some child sexual abuse survivors may show symptoms of PTSD and other forms of mental illnesses. They may behave in a nervous, upset way. They may act out aspects of the abuse in their play. Also, most survivors experience nightmares. Just think about the years of counseling that awaits the victim's.
Joe Paterno’s 409 victories may make him college football's winningest coach, but not even the household cleaning product, 409, is strong enough to erase the pain and mental scars for the victims of Jerry Sandusky’s acts of perversion. Does anyone care about them anymore? I guess the ghost of a legend drowned their voices out.
Either way, it appears once again to be business as usual for some at Penn State. The very thing that got some of their administrators and Paterno into hot water with the NCAA back in 2012.
By the way, I think the Ohio State Buckeyes chances are good to repeat as National Champions this season. Just don't tell anyone I told you!
Retraction of paragraph 10: Initially I wrote
There were also alleged incidents of sexual abuse in football facility showers in 2001 and 2002. That was actually in 2000 and 2001.