The Jerry Sandusky child molestation case stunned the nation. As subsequent revelations uncovered an athletic program operating free of oversight, university officials faced criminal charges while unprecedented NCAA sanctions hammered Penn State football and blackened the reputation of coach Joe Paterno.
In Wounded Lions , acclaimed sport historian and longtime Penn State professor Ronald A. Smith draws from university archives to answer the How? and Why? at the heart of the scandal. The Sandusky case was far from the first example of illegal behavior related to the football program--or the university's attempts to suppress news of it. As Smith shows, decades of infighting among administrators, alumni, trustees, faculty, and coaches established policies intended to protect the university, and the football team considered synonymous with its name, at all costs. If the habits predated Paterno, they also became sanctified during his tenure. Smith names names to show how abuses of power warped the "Penn State Way" even with hires like women's basketball coach Rene Portland, who allegedly practiced sexual bias against players for decades. Smith also details a system that concealed Sandusky's horrific acts just as deftly as it whitewashed years of rules violations, coaching malfeasance, and player crime while Paterno set records and raised hundreds of millions of dollars for the university.