Former FBI Director Louis Freeh announced the findings of an internal review into how Penn State University handled a scandal involving its former assistant football coach. His findings were that the most powerful leaders at the school showed “total and consistent disregard” for child sex abuse victims while covering up the attacks of a longtime sexual predator. “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,” Freeh wrote. “The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized.”
Freeh also left no doubt that former Head Coach Joe Paterno was actively involved in the coverup; in fact, presenting evidence that Paterno exercised his personal influence to be sure that the cover-up would be chosen over legal action against Sandusky. This saddens all of us in Pennsylvania deeply, but only the most stalwart and unswerving fan can deny the evidence of Joe’s complicity.
What happens next? USA Today sports columnist Christine Brennan has called for the NCAA to level the “death penalty” against Penn State, effectively shutting down the football program for its moral lapses and lack of administrative control. That may be extreme, but some believe not really extreme considering the circumstances. Freeh’s report was an “internal” Penn State investigation and has provided massive evidence of a college football program that was not under the control of the university and its trustees, putting it effectively beyond accountability and above the law of the land — one of the most critical laws of this land. The NCAA investigation will now begin.
The NCAA needs to act decisively and forcefully. The penalties must fit the crime. In our sports obsessed culture, not to do so is inexcusable and will have a powerfully negative impact upon our collective values as a nation.