12. Insularity, The Second Mile, and Sandusky’s On-Campus Incidents
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

chapter 12 Insularity, The Second Mile, and Sandusky’s On-Campus Incidents “A man should be upright, not be kept upright.” —Marcus Aurelius (ca. 161–80 ce) “Let us not be reluctant to tell our story, openly and honestly.” —President Graham Spanier (2011) From the late 1970s, when Joe Paterno was picked to replace Ed Czekaj as athletic director and athletics were soon to be taken out of an academic unit of the university , athletics and especially football moved to isolate themselves further than previously from any academic control. Athletics were isolated both physically and psychologically at the university as two major buildings were constructed, the Bryce Jordan Center, where most administrative officers were housed, and the Mildred and Louis Lasch Football Building, where football reigned supreme. Former Dean of the College of Health, Physical Education and Recreation Bob Scannell, well before the Sandusky Scandal broke, feared that the administration of athletics after the Joe Paterno–Steve Garban–John Oswald coup (see chapter 8) was dangerous to the health of athletics. “The isolation that is created by this building, the Jordan Center, which is on the edge of campus and which in its office suites looks very different than a typical faculty office,” Scannell said in his appraisal. “[I]t’s a different environment, and that’s something I sort of worry about as I look at the future.”1 Scannell was perceptive. At almost the same time that Scannell issued his forewarning, an incident was occurring in a remote building, the Lasch Building, where football dominated. The revelation of this and related incidents would eventually bring dishonor to those who had control of athletics and the entire university. Happy Valley and, indeed, the nation and beyond, was shocked with the grand jury revelations of November 4, 2011, that accused, with graphic details, former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky of molesting eight children.2 Evidently most people did not have any idea of the veracity of the charges against Sandusky, who appeared to be highly respectable, Smith_text.indd 127 12/7/15 11:11 AM 128 chapter 12 even heroic, for founding in 1977 and developing The Second Mile program for disadvantaged and at-risk young children. Rare were those who believed that the iconic ex-coach would be involved in child molestation. This was true even when the more public hint of a scandal arose in late March 2011. Then, a young reporter for the Harrisburg Patriot-News, Sarah Ganim, broke the news with headlines of a secret grand jury investigation of Sandusky by the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office. At the time, few reacted, though a former 1970s football player under Paterno and Sandusky condemned Ganim’s newspaper report. “I don’t believe the allegations against Jerry . . . a person I have always admired,” he wrote in rebuttal. The newspapers, he said, “are reporting vicious, hurtful rumors” about Jerry, whom he had never known “to take an alcoholic drink, never heard him utter a cuss word . . . or tell a lie.”3 He was reflecting what many people believed about the famous assistant coach, who helped bring two national championships to Penn State, helped numerous linebackers to have successful careers in professional football, and was President George W. H. Bush’s 294th of 1,000 Points of Light for charity work in creating The Second Mile. This was the Jerry Sandusky for whom Joe Paterno wrote probably the most outstanding letter of recommendation in Paterno’s life a decade after The Second Mile came into being. A year after Paterno’s second national championship, Sandusky applied for the head coaching position at Temple University in Philadelphia. Penn State’s second national championship was won, 14–10 against the Number One–ranked University of Miami team in the most watched game in collegiate history. Then, the Sandusky-devised defense intercepted Heisman Trophy winner Vinnie Testavarde five times, the last one near the goal line with seconds remaining .4 Sandusky had reached the height of his coaching career, when Paterno wrote the athletic director at Temple, Charles Theokas, to strongly urge Temple to hire Sandusky as its head football coach. Sandusky, Paterno stated, “has a marvelous character with an impeccable lifestyle, . . . is a role model, . . . [with] his commitment to human beings.”5 This unusual letter is important, not because Sandusky was offered and then turned down the Temple University position, but because of the Paterno family rebuttal to the damaging conclusions about Joe Paterno in the 2012 Louis Freeh report on...



Subject Headings

  • Pennsylvania State University -- Sports.
  • Pennsylvania State University -- Football.
  • Paterno, Joe, 1926-2012.
  • Sandusky, Jerry.
  • Pennsylvania State University -- Sports -- Administration.
  • College sports -- Corrupt practices -- Pennsylvania -- University Park.
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access