Monday, November 30, 2015

Piling on at PSU

The Penn State scandal that broke over the weekend will go on and on because of the reputation of the school and the football program it's linked to.

Piling on at PSU


Because of the way the world works, because of how the media is, the pedophilia scandal at Penn State that broke over the weekend will linger for a long time before it passes.

Charges that former defensive football coach Jerry Sandusky, long viewed a likely successor to the sainted Joe Paterno, sexually abused eight young boys from 1994 to 2008 are explosive in and of themselves.

That they splash back on the chieftans of a football program hailed as the jewel of major college sports will draw ongoing attention and, for the university, cause long-term angst.

Two top PSU officials charged with lying to a grand jury in an apparent attempt to cover-up Sandusky's alleged crimes -- Athletic Director Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, an interim senior vice president -- are stepping down to defend themselves, a defense to be paid for by the university, according to today's Harrisburg Patriot-News.

But that will hardly be the end of it. Because Penn State for so long has been portrayed as a paragon of big-time football, the "Happy Valley" of higher education, the school that (mostly) didn't recruit thugs and that actually graduated players, the outside world that once revered it now will view it all the more harshly.

And, rightly or wrongly, the legacy of its 84-year old coaching legend, will fall under a shadow as he and his program are -- if these allegsations prove true -- subject to questions about what was known by whom and what was done in the interest of moral, if not legal, responsibility.

Same goes, by the way, for long-time PSU President Graham Spanier who publicly stated unconditional support for Curley and Schultz by saying in a statement he has "complete confidence" in how they handled the allegations and that both "operate at the highest levels of honesty, integrity and compassion."

Also, it is not unusual in cases such as this for additional allegations to emerge.

Reputations, legacies and national images are subject to piling on when things go badly. And this thing, by all appearances so far, is going very, very badly.

Daily News Political Columnist
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About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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