Athletics can’t ever come before the safety of students.
If that message wasn’t obvious before today, it should be coming through loud and clear after the release of former FBI director Louis J. Freeh’s report regarding the child-sex-abuse scandal involving former Pennsylvania State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.
The report, released Thursday morning, accuses Penn State administrative leaders of “total and consistent disregard ... for the safety and welfare of Sandusky’s child victims.”
It specifically implicates former Penn State President Graham Spanier, athletic director Timothy Curley (who remains on administrative leave), former Vice President Gary Schultz, and the late former head football coach, Joe Paterno, for having “failed to protect against a child sexual predator harming children for over a decade.”
Despite learning of sex-abuse accusations against Sandusky in 1998, Curley, Paterno, Schultz, and Spanier held off alerting the university’s board of trustees to the investigation once the district attorney filed no charges against the assistant coach.
After then-graduate assistant coach Mike McQueary allegedly witnessed Sandusky assaulting a young boy in a shower on campus in 2001, the four men corresponded again, deciding against telling the state Department of Welfare in favor of offering Sandusky “professional help.” In an email, Spanier replied, “This approach is acceptable to me. The only downside for us is if the message isn’t ‘heard’ and acted upon, and then we become vulnerable for not having reported it.”
The report concludes that Curley, Paterno, Schultz, and Spanier “concealed critical facts” from the authorities in fear of any potential negative publicity. (Oh, the irony.)
A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.