He was an institution in Happy Valley, Penn. He was affectionately call Joe Pa by adoring fans. Over the weekend, a statue of him was hauled off to seclusion by a forklift and stored out of sight. Joe Paterno had built a dynasty over decades of coaching the Nittany Lions at Penn State University.
On Monday, following a scathing 267-page report presented by former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Louis Freeh, the Happy Valley faithful were piled on by the NCAA when it tackled Penn State with a $60 million sanction, a four-year postseason ban and obliterating all victories compiled by Paterno dating back to 1998.
Sanctioning of the Lions was announced by NCAA president Mark Emmert and Ed Ray, the chairman of the NCAA Executive Committee and Oregon State’s president.
“‘In the Penn State case, the results were perverse and unconscionable. No price the NCAA can levy will repair the grievous damage inflicted by Jerry Sandusky on his victims,’” Emmert said according to ESPN, referring to the former Penn State defensive coordinator convicted of 45 counts of child sex abuse last month.
“The NCAA said the $60 million was equivalent to the average annual revenue of the football program. The NCAA ordered Penn State to pay the penalty funds into an endowment for “‘external programs preventing child sexual abuse or assisting victims and may not be used to fund such programs at the university.’”
While the sanctions seem harsh, there is no sanction possible that will restore the children (now grown men) who fell victim to the monster that stalked the sidelines in Happy Valley. No amount of erasing of Paterno’s record will ever restore the innocence of the young boys raped by Sandusky and covered up by Paterno, Penn State President Graham Spaier, or other school officials aware of the beast in the lions’ den.
A great American tragedy has occurred in Happy Valley and it has nothing to do with football. It has everything to do with a child’s trust of an adult. Sanctions? Are there any sanctions that will erase the memories those small boys had while being raped by someone in whom they had placed their trust? I think not.
Ironically, the motto of Penn State is: “Make life better.”