Good Bye Jo Pa – PSU Football Empire Rotten to the Core

It’s easy to be blinded by the horrible sickening mess coming out of Happy Valley, but it needs to be looked at closely.

First of all, don’t be lulled asleep by some statements coming from the State AG to the effect that JoPa “is not a suspect.”  JoPa’s performance for the last TEN YEARS, along with his astounding statement yesterday, raise the prospect that JoPa is not all he appears to be.  Though we shouldn’t be surprised.  JoPa’s empire has been run like the Vatican:  that football program is one of the most secretive anywhere, with extraordinary restrictions put on press access to assistant coaches and practices — and JoPa unwilling to tell the public what the public is paying him for a salary. As a result, we have, in many respects, known of JoPa only what he wants us to know.  And, similarly, he has told the public only what he has wanted to the public to know.

Including anything about the alleged predatory pedophilia conducted by his longtime erstwhile assistant, consigliere, and confidante, Jerry Sandusky.

Now JoPa wants to similarly “control” the information we receive about “what he knew” and when he knew it, by suggesting that he was “shocked” by the Sandusky indictment, and that “we were all fooled.”

JoPa had a duty to investigate when he got that information from Mike McQuery.  Even assuming, as Joe would suggest, that the details were not sufficiently detailed to have included sodomy performed on that child, the mere suggestion of any kind of “play” between a grown man and a 10 year old in the showers of the Penn State Football facility raised an immediate duty on Jo Pa’s part to not just report the events —  but to also take further actions to insure that no more children would be subject to any risk of assault — or even just “play” in the showers, or anywhere, by Jerry Sandusky.

Stop and think: would not McQuery have presented to Jo Pa in an agitated state?  Would not this meeting have been seared into JoPa’s brain?  Even though JoPa then apparently reported something to the AD, might we presume that Jo Pa NEVER forgot what he heard? And that he was EXTREMELY troubled by it?  And did he not have a strict duty to inquire of the AD, within days, to find out what facts were gleaned, what the victim said, and what had been done with Sandusky and his access to Penn State – so that he could be sure that his football empire would generate no further risk to kids?

Let’s stop and look at another issue here:  the Attorney for Curley is going to assert that he had no duty to report the information given him concerning Sandusky’s alleged rape in 2002, because Pennsylvania’s reporting statute applies only to people who come in “direct contact with children.”  This is an interesting point.  First of all, Penn State recruits, we all know, some athletes who are age 17 — and the age of majority in Pennsylvania is 18.  So Jo Pa, and his staff, are actively involved in recruiting male kids, every year.

Secondly, Sandusky allegedly promised one kid that he could make him a “walk-on” member of the PSU football team.  This statement alone might cause Sandusky to be a “representative of PSU football interests” under NCAA guidelines.

In this context, let’s draw out a plausible scenario:  one or more of these characters — Jo Pa, AD Curley, the VP, even PSU President Spanier, are intelligent, wealthy, and knowledgeable enough to realize, for example, that in 2002 when McQuery comes up with this report about the alleged Sandusky rape of a 10 year old boy in the PSU showers, one or more of them went to an attorney, and got an opinion.   And perhaps, after being paid a hefty fee for very solid legal research, one or more of those gentlemen were told by the attorney that he had NO DUTY TO REPORT TO THE POLICE.

Assuming this happened, then what?  Well, Jo Pa’s a Catholic, he saw the way the Catholic Bishops’  “see-no-evil, hear-n0-evil, speak-no-evil” trail of evasion blew up on them.  That officials throughout the Church failed not just to report sexual assaults to the police — but also to remove the predator from any circumstances where the predator might further harm kids. So Jo Pa’s course of action was probably knowing and intentional — he couldn’t reasonably have not known about those heinous “failures to act” on the part of Catholic Church priests and leaders.  But Jo Pa mimicked their behavior:  if he told ANYONE else about the Sandusky alleged behavior, Jo Pa failed to say that in his statement.  If he took steps across his mammoth PSU football empire, which he has ruled with iron fist, like a god, for years, to insure that Sandusky had no access to those premises, then he failed to point that out in his statement. (Sandusky, it is rumored, continued to have complete and unfettered access to the premisses until at least 2007, when he was apparently seen on PSU FB premises with a boy.)   And Jo Pa, failed to address in his statement whether he had any interest in following up with AD Curley to find out what Curley’s investigation (if he did one) ascertained about the [then] present danger Sandusky would represent to 17-year old FB players at PSU, or even kids on premises who were offspring of his own Assistant Coaches!

Jo Pa and Jim Tressel show some similarities and differences here.  Tressel lied repeatedly, in a bald-faced way, for nine months, to everyone around him, causing millions of dollars in damage to OSU.  He covered-up agressively, and presumptuously, thinking he could bluff everyone around him, because of “who he is.”   Jo Pa similarly covered-up, for a much longer period of time, about much more serious behavior involving not just risk of bodily harm, but risk of bodily harm to minors.  In this context, Jo Pa appears a much more fundamentally craven character. He had a duty to investigate and appraise thoroughly all risks evident to those in his empire, and he never followed up.

Two broader questions arise:  how freely should football programs be about allowing on premises those who are no longer employed as coaches?  Recall Alabama Coach Nick Saban’s vituperative “Agent as pimps”  comments 16 months :  “The agents that do this — and I hate to say this, but how are they any better than a pimp?”   Or that wooden-headed OSU AD Gene Smith harping repeatedly about those troublesome “third parties” who hang around the football players, and get them in trouble.   Did Jo Pa have reason to believe that Sandusky, as of 2002 — or more likely, as of 1998 — was a “third-party pimp” out  to satisfy his own baser desires by preying on kids while appearing to be a charitable role model and prime-mover?

And where’s Mark Emmert on this?  The NCAA makes much of its’ alleged “primary” concern about the “welfare” of its’ “student-athletes”: does this kind of non-reporting, non-action, in the face of credible evidence of sexual assault, concern the NCAA.  Has PSU generated a By Law violation by allowing a’ “representative of its’ interests” to engage in these behaviors without reporting them?  Does the NCAA have an interest in insuring that high school athletes under the age of 18 not be exposed to alleged predators like Sandusky?  Does Jo Pa care at all?  Does President Spanier care at all?

Right now, based on the facts adduced so far, it appears that PSU, Jo Pa, and Spanier are all rotten to the core.


At this point, we need to broaden our inquiry, to ask:  how far out of whack  is college football?


About brewonsouthu

lawyer, with interest in college sports and NCAA oversight and decisions, and sports generally.
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