The Paterno Family's Self-Serving Report Is Right About the NCAA

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The rehabilitation of Joe Paterno's image -- which began with Joe Posnanski's white-washing biography, Paterno -- continues with Sunday's release of a 238-page report commissioned by the Paterno family and compiled by former U.S. Attorney General Richard Thornburgh. I've not yet read the report and am going strictly by quotes I've seen from it, online and in print, and by yesterday's TV appearances by members of the Paterno family and by Thornburgh and others who were involved in compiling it.

So far, it appears that the purpose of the Thornburgh report seems to be poke enough holes in Freeh's conclusions to vindicate Paterno. But whatever mistakes can legitimately be found in the Freeh Report, it must be at least acknowledged that his work was the result of Penn State's own investigation and that the university had no self-serving motive for condemning its own people, from President Graham Spanier to Paterno.

The same cannot be said, however, of the Paterno family's investigation. In fact, Freeh's response, which was issued Sunday, still stands unchallenged:

"Mr. Paterno was on notice for at least 13 years that Sandusky, one of his longest-serving assistants, and whose office was steps away, was a probable serial pedophile. I stand by our conclusion that four of the most powerful people at Penn State failed to protect against a child sexual predator harming children for over a decade."

Let me try and put this in even plainer language. After Paterno's assistant coach, Mike McQueary, informed Paterno in March 2002 that he had witnessed something disturbing involving Jerry Sandusky and a young boy in the football team's showers, Joe Paterno never followed up to see if the incident was investigated by those he reported it to. And,
perhaps most damning of all, even after the incident McQueary witnessed, Sandusky continued not only to have access to the football facilities but still had an office on the Penn State campus.

The efforts of the Paterno family, aided by Richard Thornburgh, to undermine not only Freeh's conclusion but also Freeh's motives in compiling it are reprehensible. But one issue raised by the Paterno family, though, should be separated from the question of Joe Paterno's reputation: the family's belief that the $60 million fine he NCAA imposed on Penn State (as well as a four-year postseason ban and scholarship losses) is excessive and unwarranted.

It's too bad this very important point is obscured by all the finger-pointing and heated rhetoric. The National Collegiate Athletic Association has declared itself a law-making body, one that can levy huge financial penalties on state institutions. Not merely that, but
they have assumed the right to punish a current generation for something that predated their association with Penn State by more than a decade.

The Paterno family's opposition to the NCAA's penalties doesn't make the NCAA right. In fact, it's far from clear exactly where the NCAA's authority in this matter comes from. The NCAA began as an organization that, supposedly, would keep gambling out of college sports, and has graduated over the last two decades into a deal broker for college sports by taking control of such events as the Men's and Women's annual basketball tournaments.

Of course, what everyone in college sports knows is that the NCAA"s real power comes from controlling thousands of college athletes, i.e., marketing their earning power for their schools and the NCAA -- jerseys, T-shirts, jackets, caps, etc -- without a nickel's worth of compensation to any athlete still in school. It is, as stated by a judge in a 1983 court ruling, "a classic cartel."

Now the NCAA is claiming the right to step into a scandal it didn't know about and did nothing to alleviate and shake down a major university, still reeling from the shock of that scandal, for $60 million. Penn State does not have to pay, but if they don't the NCAA could pressure the schools on Penn States' football, basketball and other sports' schedules to boycott the Nittany Lions.

Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett has filed a federal antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA, but there are those in the Pennsylvania and even the national media who are asking if his actions are for his own political gain. That, too, is beside the point. Whatever his motives, Corbett is on the right side of this issue, namely to keep the NCAA from becoming a ruthless and arbitrary dictator of college sports. Well, actually, it already is that, but it has never before engaged in what amounts to multimillion dollar extortion.

More on this as it develops.

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You falsely believe that the BoT at Penn State "had no self-serving interest in condemning it's own people,..."  Are you serious?

After the BoT completely mishandled EVERYTHING about the Sandusky case when it first broke they had plenty reason.  In stead of remaining calm and acting on facts as they came out, they bowed to the fury of people over the gravity of SANDUSKY'S crimes.  Their action of firing Paterno--a person who reported the information brought to him, who was cleared of wrong-doing by the Sandusky prosecutor--fed a media frenzy that changed the narrative from the crimes of Sandusky to a witch-hunt for Paterno.  They wanted the Freeh report to show that they did the right thing, and hoped that would appease everyone.  Now we know that Freeh was working as an NCAA puppet.

The more time that passes, the more it has made those that rushed to judgment look careless and clueless.


Sadly, while the NCAA may have overstepped its bounds - though I take leave to doubt that charge - the addage,"...someone has to do something...", applies here. If this case isn't the textbook definition of 'loss of institutional control', in the name of a sports program, I'd like to know what the hell that definition is... If it were not for the NCAA, the town of State College would readily build a blind feifdom under Bill O'Brien (or, BOB, as they call him in central PA). Thank goodness that college football coaches are too upwardly mobile in this modern era to get caught up in sticking around long enough to build consequences this nasty for their eschewing of normal professional rules of conduct and reporting.



Sadly, your response is based on nothing but the unproven theories of Louis Freeh in his report which has now been found to have been made, not independently, but in concert with Emperor Emmert and the NCAA.  An NCAA anxious to exploit the situation for their own gains--a need to look relevant after many failed investigations of schools who actually violated rules the NCAA exists to enforce.  Cheating.  Something that didn't happen in the clean program at Penn State.


@Jon_Palmer @kevans36 Jon, I see this just popped in my mailbox.  It's nearly Thanksgiving 2014.  The rest of the world has moved on.  You should too.  

Further, hyperbole like name-calling "Emperor Emmert", et. al., is not helping your case, in any event.  At least not with people outside the valley (and probably some in it).  

And yes, I tend to believe Louis Freeh.  Given the evidence, I would think most independent (emphasis on 'independent'), mainly-rational people would.  You might have seen Freeh's resume.  He's no slouch.  

In general, I tend to believe an independent investigator who has nothing to hide or gain, over one who lives in and is emotionally linked to the fishbowl wherein the scandal is exploding.  I agree that that maybe isn't fair.  At this point, we'll never know, right? We can only look at and make sound judgment based upon what we do know. 

I was a huge Paterno fan all of my life.  OK?  I just also understand what the time and place was like and how this could easily and seems to have very well happened around a man who was just hoping it would stay swept under the rug.  Ultimately, Paterno paid the price, as well, as he should have.  Let it go. 

The NCAA has also rolled back most of it's penalties.  Nothing to be seen here any longer, is there?  I don't know... I just wish I didn't know about any of this.

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