Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Not that I have anything highly original to add . . .
to what most people are already thinking about the stomach churning story coming out of Happy Valley, but there are some important lessons here. Philly.com is providing comprehensive coverage of the Jerry Sandusky trial and it appears the testimony is so disturbing that the university figured this was a good time to distract attention from the trial by publicly throwing its former president under the bus, releasing e-mails showing that yes, he did know about and choose not to report allegations about Sandusky because it wouldn't be "humane." Oh yeah, his last year on the job they paid him more than $1 million because, you know, it's hard to find competent leadership.
Okay, that's not exactly a distraction, but evidently they're trying to let the public know at this moment that the institution is all reformed and they're all good guys now. Whatever.
The fact is that Penn State football was an elaborate fairy tale. The entire vast institution of the university was built around it -- the demigod Joe Paterno and the generations of mythic heroes, pure of heart, mighty of sinew, imbued with noble tradition, who yearly rallied 'round the glorious banner of PSU. It was the fairy tale that brought in the millions in contributions, gave the local community its identity, and put PSU on the map. (It happens to be a great research university but ironically, people tend to think it's just a jock school.)
So, I guess president Graham Spanier just thought he couldn't afford to wake his kingdom from the dream. When it finally came, it was much, much worse.