PARENTAL ADVISORY: If you’re a teenager reading this blog entry, you may want to have a parent or guardian with you.
This site has not addressed the Joe Paterno situation in about four years, but when we did, we thought that there was something decidedly wrong about the way that the NCAA wielded the Freer Report like the bludgeon it was.
A year and a half ago, the severe sanctions that were leveled against Penn State and its football program were reversed. The Nittany Lions played in a bowl game last year, had its scholarships reinstated last fall, and the record book now shows that Joe Paterno is the winningest head coach in the history of the sport.
The original NCAA sanctions had taken away Paterno’s wins as of 1998, when he allegedly first learned that his assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, was molesting boys at his football camps and in other situations.
But documents unsealed by a Philadelphia judge yesterday in a case involving insurance payments to victims in the case as well as to Penn State, has cast significant doubt on the veracity of that timeline.
Common Pleas judge Gary Glazer has unsealed records of four instances in which the Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association Insurance Company was notified about allegations that “PSU agents allegedly learned of Sandusky’s abusive acts.”
The acts didn’t go back to 1998, but go back as far as 1976.
This isn’t a trend. It’s an epidemic. A very sad and sick epidemic that could have been nipped in the bud 40 years ago if Joe Paterno hadn’t turned on his heel and walked away from a 14-year-old camper, saying, “I have a football season to worry about.”
It’s true that the legal liabilities and responsibilities of adults supervising minor children have changed significantly since that incident. But common sense and decency should have dictated that the safety of the campers should have been the first priority.
Instead, as what has often been the case when it comes to child molestation in sports, there is a pattern that develops over the decades that is, regrettably, enabled by administrators who either want to sweep problems under the rug, or don’t want to do the due diligence to ensure that the applicant has a clean criminal record.
The enabling, regrettably, has stretched out for 40 years. And it’s inexcusable.