WASHINGTON, DC, July 19, 2012 - Today, word is that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is considering suspending the Penn State football program, perhaps indefinitely, over a report that shows school officiallys negligently permitted then known sexual predator Jerry Sandusky to continue to work at the school and then provided him lucrative retirement benefits. It could be the equivalentof the “death penalty” to the program.
“The four most powerful men at Penn State, former President Graham Spanier, Senior Vice President Gary Schultz, Athletic director Timothy Curley and head football coach Joe Paterno engaged in a pattern of concealing Sandusky’s child sex activities from authorities and failing to protect against a child predator for over a decade. They empowered Sandusky to attract victims by having unrestricted access to the athletic facilities. The Board was inept by failing to oversee activities of the University. Once the board of trustees became aware of Sandusky’s activities, the board failed to inquire and receive information from Graham. The report found that there was a striking lack of empathy for the child victims by the most powerful men at Penn State.”
The Penn State scandal broke around the same time that a drum major at Florida A&M died at the hands of fellow students in the band as part of a vicious hazing ritual. Several weeks after the incident, police charged four students in the hazing beating death of Robert Champion. The 26-year old’s family said last week “the rampant culture of hazing found at FAMU would not and could not be eradicated without some major housecleaning of those who turned a blind eye to the problem.”
In June, the trustees voted 8-4 in a no-confidence motion against FAMU president James Ammons’ performance.
This week, Ammons’ resignation took effect, even though earlier he had opted to stay on staff until October.
Like the FAMU case, the Penn State cover-up is evidence of a fundamental breach of the commitment by institutions of higher learning to put kids first, “What we learned is that “Happy Valley” Penn State was a secret society where, Sandusky, a known child sex predator was allowed to roam free for over a decade,” Hines writes. “The first known case occurred in 1998. It was investigated but nothing came of it. If the child sex brutality had been brought to light when discovered by college officials in 1998, the remaining children now adults would not have suffered at the hands of Sandusky.”
The recent NCAA threats to further penalize the university by revoking some of its NCAA privileges perhaps will send a strong message and signal to other universities and schools that they ought to be operating their schools with the highest standards for the students and young people in their care.
Ideally, the outcomes in both cases, each which were the subject of several Politics of Raising Children columns, will establish a precedent and standard for schools and universities that their priority and obligations ought to be to educating and protecting children and not coveriong up bad actors.
Parents send their older teenage children off to college and in hopes these custodians will put the well-being of the students and kids in their custodial care first.
Let’s hope those schools start to live up to their end of the bargain.
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