Street Corner Soapbox: Sandusky Guilty, Schultz and Curley on Trial
As we watched Jerry Sandusky sit impassively through court proceedings while tale after tale of horror was spun before us all, actions of the man perpetrated under the very noses of his friends and family and employers, innumerable questions come to mind.
As we watched Jerry Sandusky sit impassively through court proceedings while tale after tale of horror was spun before us all, actions of the man perpetrated under the very noses of his friends and family and employers, innumerable questions come to mind. How did this happen? How did so many fail to see what was going on? And how did Sandusky ascend to such a position of trust and respect in the community?
The answer to the last question, anyway, is that he was a good football coach. Excellence in an endeavor that carries great weight with his community gave Sandusky leeway to abuse children.
And that's the thing. Beyond prurient details, Sandusky's trial and conviction hasn't really shown us anything new. And the outcome of the trial won't have significant results. Yes, it offers the victims the satisfaction of justice – something not to be discounted lightly. But it won't change the culture that elevated Sandusky.
That's why I'm looking forward to the trials of former Penn State Athletic Director Tim Curley and Vice President Gary Schultz.
You remember those names, right? In the chain of events that began with Sandusky raping a child in a Penn State shower room – witnessed by then assistant-coach Mike McQueary and then duly reported to head coach Joe Paterno – Schultz' s and Curley's offices are where the incident died a quick and painless death by suffocation. Internal emails recently obtained by an in-house university investigation led by former FBI Director Louis Freeh show that Schultz and former Penn State President Graham Spanier agreed it would be "humane" not to report Jerry Sandusky to the authorities – emails that hint Spanier, too, may be facing prosecution.
Schultz's and Curley's trials will likely take place at the end of the summer, and what's revealed there will hint at what kind of financial damages the university will suffer as a result of litigation and should – hopefully! – serve as a warning to other institutions that taking care of business in-house is a losing proposition.
Because, let's face it, the real tragedy of the Sandusky scandal is that this kind of behavior among colleges and universities looks like it's all too common. The University of Montana, for example, is currently under investigation by the Department of Education and the Department of Justice for its handling of a recent spate of rapes and sexual assaults on its campus, including assaults by several football players from the school's Football Championship Subdivision powerhouse team. Like in the Penn State case, emails surfaced to paint administrators as more concerned with the school's football program and reputation than for the safety and rights of victims. University of Montana Vice President Jim Foley even sought to pursue punishment for one rape victim who publicly criticized the handling of her case by the school.
How did we get here? Where college sports means more to school leaders than the very safety of students and children? The blame, unfortunately, lies with us, the fans. We're the ones that make college football programs money-making machines. We're the ones that grant hero status to men with no other discernible merit than the ability to chuck an oblong piece of leather across a field. We're the ones that confuse moral rectitude with an uncommon ability to chalk Xs and Os on a board. We're the ones school administrators don't want to let down.
I'd like to think the Sandusky scandal will change the way we all look at sports, the money we invest in it, and the eminence we grant to those who play. But I'm guessing it won't. Instead, Sandusky will be sent off to prison, we'll breathe a collective sigh of relief, and the games will go on.
Jay Stevens can be reached at Jay@eriereader.com