"NOT SO HAPPY VALLEY"
Published: Monday, February 11, 2013
Updated: Monday, February 11, 2013 20:02
As the head of the Penn State football program for over 50 years, Joe Paterno had become the model for stability in the turbulent world of college football. In a landscape filled with controversy and scandals, Penn State appeared to be above it all-that was until 2011, when a news story was released stating that former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky had sexually abused 10 children between 1994 and 2009.
Penn State then hired Louis Freeh, a former director of the FBI, to further investigate the allegations. His 267-page report stated that Paterno, among other Penn State officials, covered up information regarding Sandusky’s actions.
After the Freeh report was released there was a domino effect that resulted in harsh sanctions against Penn State and allegations that placed much of the blame on Joe Paterno. Just over a week after the release of the Freeh report Paterno’s statue was removed from the outside of Penn State’s stadium, Penn State was hit with a $60 million fine and had 112 wins were vacated from the record books. Many felt that the sanctions were too harsh but it is important to make an example of Penn State and show other colleges that such actions will not be tolerated.
However, the monetary damages appeared insignificant to the defamatory statements being made about one of the most recognizable coaches in college football history.
In response to the Freeh report, document detailing the heinous actions of Sandusky, the Paterno family has released a report of their own after Paterno’s family asked their law firm to hire a team to review the original document.
The Paterno report is the work of a six-month investigation of the Freeh report and states several flaws they have found in their examination.
One of the main findings of the Paterno report is that Paterno never withheld any information. The report also states that Freeh failed to properly investigate all documents and evidence and “produced a report that fit their expectations despite contrary evidence or a more reasonable interpretation.” I think that by hiring their own team to investigate the Freeh report, the Paterno family is also creating a report that fits their expectations, as this report would have not gained much publicity if they found that the Freeh report was correct.
According to the Paterno report, the NCAA and Penn State acted too quickly after the release of the Freeh report stating that it was “oversold to the public, Penn State, the NCAA and other bodies detrimentally relied upon it.” When issuing sanctions based upon the findings, the NCAA and Penn State never took the time to fully investigate the findings, and the knee jerk reaction led to the tarnishing of Paterno’s reputation as both a coach and a person.
The most important critique is that Freeh, “missed a critical opportunity to educate the public on the identification of child sexual victimization, and instead used the platform created by this scandal to sensationalize the blaming of Joe Paterno.” Throughout the entire saga that has become the Sandusky sex scandal the media concentrated too much on the “fall of a legend” and neglected to focus on the most important part of the scandal- the victims.
As a lifelong fan of college football I will forever remember Paterno as one of the best coaches in NCAA, but it is tough to not think that maybe he could have done something more. His reputation as the leader of men and a man of character is well known, but it was this same character that came into question when information about Sandusky’s crimes began to surface.
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