A few days ago, an artist who had painted a picture of happier times at Penn State University, decided to remove a halo that he had painted around the head of late Nittany Lion Head Coach Joe Paterno. You see, emails had been discovered from more than a decade ago proving that "JoePa" knew more than he said he knew about the sex scandal surrounding former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. Those same emails suggested that Paterno and other university employees had tried to protect Sandusky, and cover up his actions, involving the sexual abuse of young boys. This apparently occurred just before Sandusky's "retirement" in 1999. As with any other sick, terribly nasty story that comes out like this, the more you dig or stir in it, the worse it smells.
College football fans are taking sides in the argument about the upcoming NCAA investigation; in other words, should the Nittany Lion football program get the "Death Penalty" for allowing this to go on for so long. If there has ever been a "lack of institutional control" on a college campus, this was it. Perhaps, it's even worse than we thought. According to a 267 page report released last week by former FBI Director Louis Freeh, former school president Graham Spanier, former athletic director Tim Curley, and former vice president Gary Schultz conspired with Joe Paterno to cover up the allegations of sexual abuse by Sandusky. That's more than a "lack of institutional control"; that's institutional arrogance and carelessness.
Just today, three more older men stepped forward to say they too, had been abused by Jerry Sandusky in the 1970s. That testimony absolutely shoots out of the water, the claim by Sandusky's attorneys that, since all the abuse charges against Sandusky happened from 1990 on, when Sandusky was in his fifties, he couldn't be a pedophile, because pedophiles don't start doing those awful deeds when they're 53 years old. Now, there are accusations from much earlier. The 68 year old Sandusky is facing a minimum of sixty years behind bars and is still awaiting sentencing.
There is no doubt, this is the biggest black mark in NCAA history. It goes much further than paying athletes, or minor recruiting violations. It is a sick, twisted, mistreatment of innocent children. The deeds done by Jerry Sandusky were both heinous and wicked. He was and is a sick man. But when other grown men tried to cover up Sandusky's deeds to protect their so-called friend, the whole scenario becomes even more heinous.
Should Penn State be given the NCAA's "Death Penalty"? Yes. l believe even the dropping of football at "Happy Valley" is not enough to bring back dignity to a once proud program. I'm really glad that artist took the halo off Joe Paterno's head in that painting. As his wife said last week, " Joe was not a saint." There is now, no question about that.
College football coaches have always stressed loyalty as one of the most important, if not the most important factor when filling out coaching staffs. That's fine for most situations, but not this one. No matter how loyal Jerry Sandusky had been to Joe Paterno, and vice-versa, the abuse and mistreatment of children should have never been tolerated. This is an injustice that will never be forgotten.
Contact Randy Smith at email@example.com
Randy Smith has been covering sports in Tennessee for the last 43 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has continued his broadcasting career as a free-lance play-by-play announcer. He is also an author and is a media concepts teacher at Red Bank High School in Chattanooga. Randy Smith's career has included a 17-year stint as scoreboard host and pre-game talk show host on the widely regarded "Vol Network". He has also done play by play of more than 500 college football, basketball, baseball and softball games on ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Sports, CSS and Tennessee Pay Per View telecasts. He was selected as "Tennessee's Best Sports Talk Show Host" in 1998 by the Associated Press. He has won other major awards including, "Best Sports Story" in Tennessee and his "Friday Night Football" shows on WRCB-TV twice won "Best Sports Talk Show In Tennessee" awards. He has also been the host of "Inside Lee University Basketball" on CSS for the past 11 years. He was the first television broadcaster to ever be elected to the "Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame", in 2003. Randy and his wife, Shelia, reside in Hixson. They have two married children (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith). They also have three grandchildren (Coleman, Boone, and DellaMae).