John Klein: Penn State case screams for NCAA involvement
BY JOHN KLEIN Senior Sports Columnist
Friday, July 13, 2012
7/13/12 at 7:41 AM
Related stories: Paterno’s legacy hurt by scandal.
Inquiry: Penn State officials hid sexual abuse.
NCAA questions await Penn State.
Go to John Klein's Blog Original Print Headline: Penn State case needs NCAA help
The NCAA said it is going to look into the issues surrounding the scandal at Penn State involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.
The same organization that routinely punishes schools and college athletes for things like getting a free meal or a tattoo is now determining whether child sexual abuse is something that should concern it.
If ever there was a case of "institutional control and ethics policies," this is it.
There would appear on the surface more than enough evidence already uncovered for the NCAA to get involved.
When we say involved, we mean more than sending a letter to Penn State to please not let this happen again.
An investigation by former FBI director Louis Freeh released on Thursday outlined disturbing evidence that implicated the entire administrative wing of Penn State, from football coach Joe Paterno to President Graham Spanier, in handling the Sandusky issue.
The report said Penn State officials "failed to protect against a child sexual predator harming children for over a decade."
Institutional control? Ethics policies?
Paterno, according to the report, was an "integral part of this active decision to conceal."
Perhaps it is time for former Penn State football players, like ESPN's Matt Millen, to quit trying to canonize their former coach.
The NCAA is quick to act if it feels like it is lied to about a free dinner. It is quick to act if it feels like some athlete got paid for not working very hard or not working at all at a summer job.
Those seem insignificant in light of what we now know about Penn State.
On the surface, it would appear Penn State knew enough facts to suspect child sexual abuse and decided to do nothing that would stop Sandusky from harming children.
The NCAA is quick to be outraged by college athletes getting a few bucks.
If ever there was an abuse of power, a failure to do the right thing and reason for the NCAA to do something, this is it.
Yes, it is a legal issue.
What Penn State did or did not do also goes to the very core of the NCAA's professed values, ethics and moral obligations.
In other words, there has never been a case that screamed louder for the NCAA to get involved.
Penn State's actions in handling the Sandusky case weren't just allegedly unlawful and awful. They go against everything the NCAA is supposed to promote.
Who was looking out for the protection of the victims? Who was responsible at Penn State?
The Freeh report details a sordid story that is shameful in every possible manner.
The report points a finger at Paterno, Spanier, athletic director Tim Curley and PSU vice president Gary Schultz.
The NCAA was eager to kill the football program at SMU. All the Mustangs did was pay some players. Paying some players pales in comparison to what we're talking about at Penn State.
According to the report, Penn State engaged in activities to keep the Sandusky allegations quiet to avoid bad publicity. Not for a week or two. For more than a decade.
This is not some minor infraction of NCAA rules.
If ever there was a case that should be investigated, and perhaps acted upon by the NCAA, this is it.
Again, we're not talking about some kids getting a couple of hundred bucks for some bowl memorabilia.
At Penn State, this is about the officials who should've acted to report actions of a sexual predator but chose to try to protect the football program. As a result, the sexual predator was allowed to not only roam free but also was given the opportunity to use Penn State football as a part of his lure.
Disgusting. How else to describe these men who had the knowledge and power but did nothing to halt Sandusky?
Perhaps, someone at the NCAA should be outraged by the actions of a university that appears to have systematically avoided a situation that allowed a sexual predator to harm children for at least 14 years.
The Freeh report says Penn State hid "critical facts" in hopes of avoiding bad publicity.
If the NCAA is really all about the kids, as it likes to say, then perhaps there has never been a case more in need of NCAA sanctions.
As Sandusky awaits sentencing on 45 criminal counts for abusing 10 boys, it is time for those who systematically took no action to stop him to be punished, too.
Penn State, according to the Freeh report, failed to act to stop it because it wanted to avoid the bad publicity.
This is the textbook example, of the worst kind, of lack of institutional control.
The courts have acted on Sandusky. It is time for the NCAA to act, as well.