Joe Paterno’s Wins Restored
A victory for evil.
The NCAA has restored Joe Paterno as the winningest coach in big-time college football history and otherwise overturned the sanctions in the Jerry Sandusky rape cover-up.
ESPN (“Joe Paterno is now winningest coach“):
Penn State’s football team is getting back 112 wins wiped out during the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal and the late Joe Paterno has been restored as the winningest coach in major college football history.
The NCAA announced the new settlement with the school weeks before a scheduled trial on the legality of the 2012 consent decree it will replace.
The new deal also directs a $60 million fine to address child abuse be spent within Pennsylvania and resolves that lawsuit.
The NCAA board of governors approved the settlement, said association spokesman Bob Williams. The Penn State board approved it Friday afternoon.
The announcement follows the NCAA’s decision last year to reinstate the school’s full complement of football scholarships and let Penn State participate in post-season play, and comes just days after a federal judge declined to rule on the consent decree’s constitutionality.
The NCAA said continuing the litigation would only delay the distribution of funds to sex abuse survivors.
“While others will focus on the return of wins, our top priority is on protecting, educating and nurturing young people,” said Harris Pastides, University of South Carolina president and member of the NCAA board.
The consent decree sprung from the scandal that erupted when Sandusky, a retired football assistant coach, was accused of sexually abusing boys, some of them on Penn State’s campus.
It had eliminated all wins from 1998 — when police investigated a mother’s complaint that Sandusky had showered with her son — through 2011, Paterno’s final season as head coach after six decades with the team and the year Sandusky was charged.
In September, the NCAA announced it was ending the school’s ban on post-season play and restored its full complement of football scholarships earlier than scheduled.
The restored wins include 111 under Paterno, who died in 2012, and the final victory of 2011, when the team was coached by defensive coach Tom Bradley. It returns Paterno’s record to 409-136-3.
Now that Paterno’s wins have been restored, some may wonder if his statue will return to campus. The nearly 7-foot tall, more than 900 pound statue was removed in 2012, but a source told ESPN’s Joe Schad that no decision has been made on the restoration of the statue and a decision is not imminent.
While I thought stripping the school—and Paterno—of the wins for transgressions that had next to no impact on Penn State’s on-field competitiveness was both harsh and nonsensical when levied, I’m rather befuddled by the overturning here. Penn State signed a consent decree, meaning they agreed to the penalties in lieu of potentially harsher ones, including the so-called “death penalty.” Now, they’re essentially getting off Scot-free for some pretty serious violations. (I actually thought the death penalty more appropriate, in that it punished the school where it hurt: the ability to make millions of dollars playing football.)
The 2012 consent decree was signed by Penn State’s then-president, Rodney Erickson, a month after a jury convicted Sandusky and shortly after former FBI director Louis Freeh released the scathing results of a university-commissioned investigation into the Sandusky matter.
Its unprecedented penalties drew heated and sustained opposition by Penn State alumni and fans who argued the Freeh report was factually incorrect, defended Paterno’s handling of the Sandusky scandal, noted it punished people who had nothing to do with Sandusky and said that the school’s athletics program had been considered a national model.
In recent months, emails and other documents have been attached to court filings by the NCAA and the plaintiffs, state Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman and state Treasurer Rob McCord.
In one, an NCAA official described its pursuit of the penalties as “a bluff” and said asserting jurisdiction would be “a stretch.” Other records documented that Penn State narrowly avoided a multi-year “death penalty” which would have suspended the college football powerhouse from playing at all.
Corman signed off on the proposal, the senator said at a news conference in Harrisburg.
“The fact of the matter was, an evil predator operated in our community for years and everyone missed it,” Corman said. “The NCAA has surrendered. The agreement we reached represents a complete victory for the issue at hand.”
It’s certainly true that this is a “complete victory” for Paterno and the University. As to the “issue at hand,” the reason “an evil predator operated in our community for years and everyone missed it” was because Paterno and the leadership at Penn State were cowards and scoundrels who cared more for the reputation of their football program than for the boys they allowed be raped for years. This is, therefore, a complete victory for evil.