Hanley: Mind Reels At PSU Scandal, And There May Be More Ahead
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By Brian Hanley
(CBS) Here’s hoping the worst of the depravity of the Jerry Sandusky child-abuse allegations has already been brought to light.
However, if what Mark Madden of 105.9 in Pittsburgh told Mully and me this morning is proven fact, this stomach-turning story has more sordid chapters.
Madden,very careful to label what he has heard as nothing more than rumor, said that two columnists are looking into a claim that Sandusky was “pimping out young boys to rich donors” of the Second Mile Foundation for at-risk youths Sandusky helped run.
Madden has been among the first to document this scandal back in April, writing in the Beaver County (Pa.) Times that Sandusky was given the opportunity to resign from Penn State in 1999 in exchange for having his child-abuse allegations quietly covered up.
Pray this rumor is unfounded.
There was more documented fallout Thursday from the Penn State scandal.
The Board of Trustees has asked the university’s interim head football coach, Tom Bradley, to keep Mike McQueary, the assistant who claims to have witnessed a child being sodomized by Sandusky in the football facility showers in 2002, off the field during Saturday’s nationally-televised game against Nebraska, according to one of the trustees.
The trustee told The Morning Call in an exclusive interview that the board made the request out of concern for McQueary’s safety.
The board does not plan to fire McQueary or ask him to step down, according to the trustee, who asked to remain anonymous because of the sensitive nature of the matter.
Chances are McQueary, who notified Joe Paterno but not police of what he saw, cannot be fired under whistle-blower laws.
McQueary told the grand jury that he saw a boy about 10 years of age with his hands against a shower room wall, while a naked Sandusky forced anal sex on him. A distraught McQueary, who has been widely criticized for not stopping Sandusky at the time, fled and reported the incident the next day to Paterno, who in turn reported it to other school officials days later.
The trustee described Wednesday night’s two-hour board meeting, in which Paterno was fired by unanimous vote, as “somber.”
“The fact that someone saw something wrong and did not take the time to ask the right questions, that’s the part it all goes back on,” the trustee told Morning Call. And of Paterno in particular, he added, “Either he knew about it and brushed it under the rug, or he didn’t ask enough questions.”
He said the board decided to announce its decision immediately in response to mounting media attention. The board feared any delay would only fuel the frenzy outside, he said.
“Every day it was going to get worse and worse,” he said.
By the way, Penn State should study video from the riot which took place Tuesday night and expel any students it can identify as lawbreakers.
The board considered letting Paterno stay on for Saturday’s game nominally, with interim head coach Tom Bradley assuming the role of team spokesman, he said. In the end, however, the board feared all the television cameras would remain focused on Paterno, thereby unnecessarily drawing out the drama and further damaging the university’s reputation.
Also, the board was unhappy with Paterno’s decision to release statements on his own, instead of through the university, raising the question of whether the long-time coach was acting in violation of his contract, he said.
Paterno’s statement, a verbal end-around, was he would retire at the end of the season so there was no need for the trustees to spend “a minute” on his future.
And as for ousted university president Graham Spanier, the trustee said the board was angry about his statement of “unconditional support” of two high-level administrators who allegedly failed to act on the reports of Sandusky’s behavior.
According to the trustee, Spanier promised not to take legal action against the university.
“Bottom line, Penn State is bigger than Joe Paterno. It’s bigger than Graham Spanier,” he said.
Bottom line, the Big Ten is bigger than Paterno. So conference commissioner Jim Delany should immediately order Paterno’s name stricken from the Big Ten’s new conference championship trophy.
As for the Penn State financial fallout, not even counting any lawsuits filed from Sandusky’s victims, the cost will be in the tens of millions.
According to Chris Isidore of CNNMoney, Penn State’s revenue of $72.7 million from football last season was fifth-highest in the NCAA after an analysis of figures reported by each school to the Department of Education. Penn State’s profit after expenses: $53.2 million, second to Texas’ $71.2 million.
Penn State reported an additional $24.1 million in athletic revenue not specifically assigned to one team or sport. Much of that is from general merchandise sales and sponsorships, and much of that revenue was driven by the popularity of football, according to Marc Ganis, head of SportsCorp Ltd., a sports marketing firm.
According to CNNMoney, that money is more at risk in the near-term than the school’s long-term contracts for television coverage, its membership in the Big 10 Conference and the like.
“Their brand has been irrevocably tarnished,” said Ganis. “In a matter of days, they have plummeted from being perceived as the cleanest, most ethical brand in college sports to the lowest of the lows. Moral breaches of this magnitude are not easily forgotten or dismissed in our country.”
Ganis said perhaps the most significant near-term dollar risk for Penn State is the damage the scandal is to fundraising, which is not included in the reported athletic department revenue.
“They used Paterno like crazy,” he said. “This iconic figure was a magnet for fundraising. Now he’s radioactive.”
The next hit could be to long-term sponsorship deals.
“Many of the sponsorships came from companies wanting to be associated with something that had always been seen good and admirable,” he said.
If the scandal affects Penn State’s ability to recruit top players, that could hurt its on field success and affect ticket sales and other revenue down the road.
As for the final home game Saturday, a Nebraska regent called for safety assurances from Penn State on Thursday, saying he fears for the Cornhuskers’ football traveling party and fans at this weekend’s game.
Regent Tim Clare of Lincoln said he began worrying about safety while watching televised coverage of the scene in State College, Pa., after coach Joe Paterno’s firing Wednesday night.
Police in riot gear dispersed about 2,000 people who took to the streets. Crowds toppled a television news van and kicked in its windows, and at least one photographer was pelted with a rock. Officers used pepper spray at times to control the crowd.
Clare said he called Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne early Thursday morning to discuss safety.
“Happy Valley is a pretty interesting place on a normal football Saturday,” Clare said. “Given what’s developed the last several days, particularly last night, we have a duty to ensure that our football student-athletes, staff, coaches and our fans are safe.”
Penn State Police Chief Tyrone Parham wrote in an email to the Associated Press on Thursday that his force is “taking extra precautions and has added additional resources for the game.” He didn’t elaborate.
Bradley, speaking at a news conference, admonished students to not engage in hooliganism because they’re upset about Paterno’s firing.
“I think the message is clear: Let’s show them what Penn State is really all about … Let’s show class; let’s show dignity,” Bradley said.
Bradley said he wasn’t worried about the safety of Penn State’s players on Saturday.
Clare said PSU police should lay out a specific security plan to Nebraska officials and say how it will be carried out.
“If we’re not satisfied with that answer, we look to Plan B,” Clare said, though he would not speculate on alternatives if Nebraska officials aren’t satisfied with Penn State’s security plans.