What you didn’t say

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“Believe deep down in your heart that you’re destined to do great things.”

“Besides pride, loyalty, discipline, heart, and mind, confidence is the key to all the locks.”

“It’s the name on the front of the jersey that matters most, not the one on the back.”

“Losing a game is heartbreaking. Losing your sense of excellence or worth is a tragedy.”

“Publicity is like poison; it doesn’t hurt unless you swallow it.”

“The will to win is important, but the will to prepare is vital.”

“When a team outgrows individual performance and learns team confidence, excellence becomes a reality.”

“You have to perform at a consistently higher level than others. That’s the mark of a true professional.”

“You need to play with supreme confidence, or else you’ll lose again, and then losing becomes a habit.”

“Success without honor is an unseasoned dish; it will satisfy your hunger, but it won’t taste good.”

“The minute you think you’ve got it made, disaster is just around the corner.”

The above quotes are attributed to one person: Coach Joe Paterno.

On Thursday, July 12, former FBI Director Louis Freehr released the findings of an intensive 8 month long investigation of Penn State University precipitated by the grand jury conviction of former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. In a prepared statement, Mr. Freehr said in part:

“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. The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized. Messrs. Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley never demonstrated, through actions or words, any concern for the safety and well-being of Sandusky’s victims until after Sandusky’s arrest.”

he went on to say:

“The stated reasons by Messrs. Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley for not taking action to identify the victim and for not reporting Sandusky to the police or Child Welfare are:

(1) Through counsel, Messrs. Curley and Schultz have stated that the “humane” thing to do in 2001 was to carefully and responsibly assess the best way to handle vague but troubling allegations.

(2) Mr. Paterno said that “I didn’t know exactly how to handle it and I was afraid to do something that might jeopardize what the university procedure was. So I backed away and turned it over to some other people, people I thought would have a little more
expertise than I did. It didn’t work out that way.”

(3) Mr. Spanier told the Special Investigative Counsel that he was never told by anyone that the February 2001 incident in the shower involved the sexual abuse of a child but only “horsing around.” He further stated that he never asked what “horsing around” by Sandusky entailed.

Taking into account the available witness statements and evidence, it is more reasonable to conclude that, in order to avoid the consequences of bad publicity, the most powerful leaders at Penn State University – Messrs. Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley – repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky’s child abuse from the authorities, the Board of Trustees, Penn State community, and the public at large. Although concern to treat the child abuser humanely was expressly stated, no such sentiments were ever expressed by them for Sandusky’s victims.” (my emphasis)

The bitterest irony in all this sordid mess is that men of tremendous power and influence allowed the rape of a child by a pedophile to go unreported (which allowed future rapes by the same pedophile) in order to protect the pristine reputation of Penn State University, and in doing so, have most likely tarnished said reputation beyond redemption. At least for the foreseeable future.

Do I think that the Board of Trustees, who hired Louis Freehr’s law firm, threw Joe Paterno under the bus? Yeah, probably. But I also think Paterno and company could have stopped that bus over a decade ago and prevented the future destruction that it caused.

How very sad that of all the inspirational and motivational quotes credited to Coach Joe Paterno, to many–including me–only one will live in infamy:

“I should have done more.”

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7 Responses to “What you didn’t say”

  1. floyd July 12, 2012 at 8:11 pm #

    Actions, or inactions as it were speak louder than all the words he ever spoke. Heart wrenching… To put anything above a young person’s life is inexcusable. As a coach I’m sickened beyond belief…

  2. Shawn Smucker July 12, 2012 at 9:36 pm #

    What a sad situation. I can only hope that others in leadership roles will see how this has played out and think twice about not being transparent and LOOKING OUT FOR THE KIDS.

  3. jake July 12, 2012 at 10:52 pm #

    What a regrettable comment, “I should have done more.” I hope I never have to say anything like it.

  4. Bethany Austin Smith July 13, 2012 at 8:27 am #

    Sobering. His one mistake, silence, repeated day after day, ruined his legacy.

  5. Hazel Moon July 13, 2012 at 11:57 am #

    Keeping silent is often the way out for many, To slink into a corner and allow someone else to fix it! My mouth would have been there, but that is just me.

  6. Joseph Baran July 13, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

    Penn State brass kept quiet because their number one priority was the game and not the private life of one of its people, even if it involved the endangerment of children. They have failed to realize that one cannot be separated from the other. I think they threw themselves under the bus the day they looked away.

  7. karenzach July 19, 2012 at 7:52 am #

    Thus the title A SILENCE of Mockingbirds… The question we all need to be asking ourselves is “What will we regret not doing?” when it comes to speaking out on behalf of abused children. Then we need to go and do that thing.
    A child’s life is in danger.

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