Tom Corbett Said “No” to Penn State Football

ESPN the Magazine didn't convince me the gov's actions surrounding the Jerry Sandusky scandal were politically motivated.

“When’s the last time anybody said no to the football program?” the governor asked about a dozen Penn State students who had hand-delivered a request to meet with him to lobby against his budget proposal, which slashed the university’s appropriations. Surprisingly, Ed Rendell accepted.

Even more surprising, Rendell—a Democrat—lectured students about how Penn State administrators needed to act fiscally responsible. Don’t lobby him, he told them, but rather the school’s administrators; their actions had gotten Penn State into this mess.

I thought of that 2009 meeting, which I reported for Penn State’s student newspaper, this week when an ESPN the Magazine feature suggested that Governor Tom Corbett—a Republican—used the Jerry Sandusky scandal as political leverage to … well, I’m not sure what exactly, since the article doesn’t offer a concrete explanation.

Rendell and Corbett are polar opposites, but on the issue of the university’s state appropriations, they essentially agreed on this: If Penn State administrators wanted more funding, they’d have to be fiscally transparent.

ESPN quotes an unnamed “senior faculty member” as a source, who apparently sat within earshot of Corbett at a local bar a night after Joe Paterno’s firing. “[Corbett] was just effusive … It was like a victory celebration. I remember thinking at the time that it just seemed a strange thing … a kind of gratuitous political piling on.”

No internal memos, not even an unnamed Corbett staffer, but an unnamed “senior faculty member” is the source? No evidence has surfaced that Corbett acted politically in tackling Penn State’s hierarchy. And why would he, especially since his central-Pennsylvania base bleeds blue and white, not to mention the fact that Paterno’s son is a GOP strategist?

Still, Corbett’s critics dispute the timing of the state filing sexual molestation charges involving initially eight—and now 10—boys against Sandusky.

Sandusky was a man so revered in State College that he had an ice-cream flavor named after him; a man believed to have dedicated his entire adult life to helping underprivileged children.

And suppose he becomes this summer’s Casey Anthony; his life will never be the same. If guilty? Even his lawyer says he should be locked away for life.

When authorities investigate an alleged sexual assault, it’s practically protocol to investigate if the accused is a repeat offender, says Dr. David Lisak, a board member for 1 in 6, a male sexual assault advocacy organization named after a study that states one in sex men are sexually abused.

“If you start to investigate the case and you find an increase in the number of [alleged] victims, that expands the time frame,” says Dr. Lisak, a forensic consultant. “With multiple allegations, there’s a lot more work to be done.”

Dr. Lisak was a consultant to the prosecution in the Kobe Bryant rape case in 2004, when Bryant was found not guilty of raping a woman in a Colorado hotel room. He doesn’t have an opinion regarding the timing of Sandusky’s charges because he says public information becomes distorted during high-profile cases.

But he says it’s “quite routine to canvas [others] to try and determine if there are other victims.” There are 10 incidents in Sandusky’s case and not one, as in Bryant’s case.

“Once you arrest someone, you start a clock ticking and things start happening that may curtail the investigation,” Dr. Lisak says.

In State College, the alarm went off in November. As Penn State’s Board of Trustees debated how to handle Paterno, according to ESPN, “… from the speaker of a nearby telephone, a distinctive voice chimed in:

“Remember the children. Remember that little boy in the shower.” The voice belonged to [Corbett,] … Corbett was participating in his first meeting, but he had the last word.”

That’s only because the Board of Trustees—like so many of Penn State’s leaders—chose not to speak up.
Three years ago, students hand-delivered an invitation to Harrisburg, nearly 100 miles away, to invite Governor Rendell to discuss state appropriations. Last November, the Board of Trustees had a subordinate deliver a memo to Paterno, who lived about a mile from Old Main, to telephone the board so he could be fired.

Regarding both appropriations and Paterno’s firing, the university’s leaders—not the governors—are to blame.
But, for the record, when’s the last time anybody said no to the football program? Corbett.