Most of all, you want to have an audience with one of sports’ most endearing icons, Joe Paterno, Happy Valley’s homespun saint, and ask Joe Pa, repeatedly, “While you were regaling everyone with sappy tales about meeting your wife 50 years ago over ice cream at the local creamery in State College, Pa., did you have any idea what your longtime defensive coordinator was doing in the company of young boys?”
If the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office is to be taken at its word — if the sad, sickening details of alleged sexual abuse of young boys by Jerry Sandusky are true — a once-immaculate program thought of as beyond reproach is now close to beyond redemption.
Paterno wasn’t charged, but if Sandusky is guilty, Paterno would be guilty — just as Penn State’s athletic director and a university vice president, who were charged with perjury and failure to report suspected child abuse on Saturday, would be guilty.
They would all be party to a worse crime than any crooked, pay-for-play booster at Miami, Ohio State or even SMU ever committed: guilty of protecting a program before a child.
You can’t read the 23-page grand jury report and come to any other conclusion; Penn State football and its pristine reputation apparently superseded the alleged sexual assault of a young boy — perhaps as many as eight young boys — over 15 years by Sandusky.
Joe Pa knew, if the charges are true.
They all knew.
And they never told police.
Penn State’s president and other university officials are standing behind Tim Curley, the athletic director, and Gary Schultz, the senior vice president of finance and business. They maintained both men handled a 2002 complaint about Sandusky properly — given what they knew of the situation at the time.
“I wish to say that Tim Curley and Gary Schultz have my unconditional support,” Penn State President Graham Spanier said in a statement, which an athletic department official said would be the school’s only comment on the matter. “I have known and worked daily with Tim and Gary for more than 16 years. I have complete confidence in how they have handled the allegations about a former University employee.”
In the statement issued by Penn State, the attorneys for Curley and Schultz said their clients are not guilty. Sandusky’s attorney told a Johnstown, Pa., television station that Sandusky “has maintained his innocence” after being aware of the allegations for more than three years.