Left: Penn State president Eric Barron (Michelle Bixby, Penn State) Right: Joe Paterno (Richard Paul Kane, Shutterstock.com)
Penn State University president Eric Barron denounced a string of new allegations about the extent of the university’s knowledge of Jerry Sandusky‘s sexual abuse of children, and criticized the media for continuing to scrutinize the school, four years after Sandusky was convicted on dozens of sexual assault charges.
Barron shared his thoughts in a letter that was posted on Penn State’s website on Sunday, while the university was still reeling from the deluge of claims about Sandusky, who continues to cast a haunting shadow over the school even while he festers behind bars.
The first shockwave hit last Wednesday, in court documents tied to a legal battle between Penn State and its general liability insurer, Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association Insurance Company, over the more than $90 million in settlements that the university has paid out to Sandusky’s victims. Common Pleas Court Judge Gary Glazer wrote that PMA claims a boy told late football coach Joe Paterno in 1976 that he’d been abused by Sandusky. The insurance company also claims that two assistant coaches witnessed inappropriate contact between Sandusky and children in the late 1980s, and that another molestation claim had been reported to an athletic director around that same time.
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Joe Paterno, Penn State football coach, after a victory over North Carolina State on November 11, 1978.
Did Penn State University football coach Joe Paterno know about Jerry Sandusky’s horrific pedophiliac ways 40 years ago?
That disturbing possibility was raised in a court filing Wednesday, as part of an ugly legal battle between Penn State and the university’s commercial general liability insurer, Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association Insurance Company. At the heart of the dispute is whether PMA should cover some or all of the $60 million the university has paid out in settlements to victims of Sandusky in recent years, based on what Penn State officials knew about Sandusky — and when.
Common Pleas Court Judge Gary Glazer referenced a long-ago alleged report of abuse in an opinion that delved into the particulars of Penn State’s various policies with PMA. The line that grabbed the most attention, of course, referred to Paterno. Read more »
Donald Trump was in Pittsburgh last night, rallying a large crowd in advance of the Pennsylvania primary later this month. As politicians do, he attempted to pander to local sports teams. In Philadelphia, pols have been telling us they gambled on Villanova and won their bracket pools because of it. In Pittsburgh last night, Trump mentioned … Joe Paterno!
“How’s Joe Paterno?” Trump said. “We gonna bring that back? How ’bout that whole deal?”
A Trump campaign spokesperson later told CNN that he meant the Joe Paterno statue, which was taken down in 2012 amid the Penn State child sex abuse scandal. “He was talking about the Penn State bronze statue that they melted down,” the spokeswoman said. Read more »
(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
How long before Joe Paterno’s statue returns to Happy Valley?
With the sidelining of most NCAA sanctions following the Jerry Sandusky scandal and the restoration of Paterno’s wins record, the full restoration of JoePa’s legacy on campus has seemed only a matter of time. Sandy Barbour, Penn State’s new athletic director, basically confirmed that this week in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer.
“I have no doubt that at the right time, as some of the legal issues have been sorted through . . . Penn State will honor not only Joe Paterno’s legacy but the Paterno family’s legacy,” Barbour told the Inky’s editorial board. “We’ll know when it’s time.” Read more »
Jerry Sandusky has appealed his convictions for child sexual abuse, the Associated Press reports.
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(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
Let’s be fair here: Given the expense of big-time college athletics, it probably cost way more than $13,500 apiece for Penn State to earn each of the 111 victories that were eventually erased from Joe Paterno‘s record following the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
But the legal bills for the fight to restore those victories have come due, and PennLive reports today the final tally amounts to about $1.5 million — or, roughly, the aforementioned $13,500 per restored victory. Read more »
Former Penn State President Graham Spanier has filed suit against former FBI director Louis Freeh, saying the latter defamed him in his famous “Freeh Report” on the Jerry Sandusky affair that ended the Joe Paterno era at the university.
The complaint was not immediately available, but an official with the Court of Common Pleas in Centre County confirmed Wednesday afternoon that the case had been filed. Spanier’s attorney, Libby Locke, did not return calls for comment, nor did any of the three offices of the Freeh Group, the company that the former FBI director now heads. Read more »
Penn State’s president has criticized the Freeh Report that found broad university culpability in the Jerry Sandusky scandal, saying it was overly “prosecutorial” and arrived at “absurd” conclusion.
An association of sexual abuse survivors reacted angrily to the news, issuing a statement urging university officials to “man up” to their responsibilities in the matter.
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The NCAA, the organization that’s normally as inflexible as a PVC pipe, gave it up last week.
So what if part of the settlement of a filed court case was that it didn’t do anything wrong. Smart people know what was at work here: that even with the wrongdoing at Penn State, this NCAA revealed itself as a lying, cheating, and oft-incompetent organization infatuated with a beer-muscle bully pulpit. And they did it all under the guise of “protecting” college athletics. In many ways, it is the married preacher who teaches you the wonders of God, but after the sermon sneaks behind the altar to bang the church secretary.
So the Penn State football program got its 112 wins restored (taken away in the original “consent” decree), while Joe Paterno got re-credited with his 111, to become once again the all-time winningest college football coach, and the $60 million fine on PSU was fine-tuned to help child abuse programs only within the state of Pennsylvania.
Penn State nation celebrated this development, which I found somewhat peculiar. Joe Paterno may have been wronged in the manner with which he was fired as football coach, and his character may have been besmirched. But I think we go too far when we make Paterno a victim. This was a dark chapter of Penn State’s history that isn’t going to be wiped away by smearing the campus with Paterno’s total win number of 409. When we do that, we cheat the kids who were the true victims of Jerry Sandusky’s heinous child abuse.
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A banner in the parking lot tailgating outside Beaver Stadium before football game between Penn State and Temple in State College on Saturday., November 15, 2014.
When Penn State had its vacated football wins restored as part of a deal the NCAA made with Pennsylvania officials, one number was immediately on the minds of Penn State football faithful: 409. That’s the number of times the Nittany Lions won under Joe Paterno, the most of any major college football coach.
Ever since Paterno was fired in November 2011, the number has become famous, even fetishized. Those who defend Paterno say he was made a scapegoat. Defenders usually mention his generosity to the university and his well-liked status among former players. And 409 has become shorthand for that. There’s a car in my neighborhood with 409 bumper stickers. There’s a restaurant in State College called 409 Pizza and Wings. People once held vigil at the spot where a Paterno statue once stood. Hundreds of people rallied in celebration when the wins were restored.
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