Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Jerry Sandusky – justice is about to be served

The most important sports story of 2011, a story that turned into one of the biggest stories in recent memory takes center stage Tuesday when the State of Pennsylvania brings 52 charges of sexual molestation of children against former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. Sandusky was indicted on November 4. Five days later Penn State fired Joe Paterno, along with Graham Spanier Penn State’s President. Paterno had been the school’s head football coach for 46 years Paterno and Spanier were fired for not being more proactive went they first learned of Sandusky’s alleged pedophile in 2001.

The far-ranging and long-term implications of the Penn State football scandal are only beginning to be understood. Sandusky’s trail begins another chapter in the story, a sordid saga of college football, college athletics and how sports is viewed by hundreds of millions of people – impacts our society and the world we live in. It will be next to impossible to fully assess the fallout but the sports industry that existed before the Penn State scandal, will not be the sports industry that will exist ten or twenty years from now.

Before the horrific allegations were reported, few if anyone outside of Penn State had ever heard of Jerry Sandusky. However, Joe Paterno and Penn State were two of the most cherished “brands” in sports, let alone college athletics.

Countless mistakes were made, beginning with an apparent cover-up of the allegations Jerry Sandusky, and now Penn State, that dates back more than 14 years. Penn State knew about Sandusky’s alleged behavior as far back as 1998 and Paterno knew something was wrong in 2001. They choose to “look the other way” and not contact the police. For Penn State, a problem that should have been dealt with years ago has become one of the greatest examples of damage control an American University has ever been forced to address.

It remains to be seen what if the NCAA will do if anything regarding the school’s covering up of Sandusky’s alleged activities. Some of the allegations date back to 1998 when Sandusky was employed by Penn State. The most serious allegations relating to Penn State and the charges that cost Paterno and Spanier their jobs are connected to an alleged 2001 incident in the Penn State football locker room – three years after Sandusky had retired as Penn State’s assistant football coach.

Nine months ago Sandusky was a hero on the Penn State campus. The Harrisburg Patriot News paints this picture of the Jerry Sandusky that once was: “Defensive mastermind. Man’s man who related well to his football warriors. Children’s champion with an uncanny knack of relating to kids on their level, despite his 68 years.

“It didn’t matter that Sandusky had retired from the football program more than a decade before. The university kept an office for him in the athletic building. This afforded him full privileges and unfettered access to the football locker room and facilities.

“Even when an incident involving alleged sexual contact with a boy in the football shower room in early 2001 resulted in a university ban on Sandusky bringing underage kids on campus, it did nothing to deflate the esteem in which he was held.

“University officials, its football fraternity and Penn State alumni still turned out — and shelled out — for Sandusky and the many events benefiting his charity, The Second Mile.

“Sandusky’s roots run deep here. So did his ties. And so did the town’s and its football community’s loyalty
to him.”

A lawyer who spoke with Sports Business News Monday offered this on the start of the Sandusky trial, “If he were my client I would have advised him to plead guilty. Everyone deserves a fair trial and that’s what Jerry Sandusky is going to get. At the same time I do believe when all is said and done Jerry Sandusky is going to jail for a very long time.”

Monday Penn State reported that during the first five months of the scandal (November 4, 2011 through March 32, 2012) the scandal cost Penn State $9,631,822 – nearly $10 million. According to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette: Roughly two-thirds of the updated cost total, or $6,519,946, involves the internal investigation headed by the firm of former FBI Director Louis Freeh, along with crisis communication expenses, according to Penn State data. Firms covered by the total include Freeh Group/Kekst Public Relations; Reed Smith/Ketchum Public Relations; Domus Inc. and the The Academy Group.

Penn State has paid another $1,793,487 for university legal services and defense. That sum includes payments to Saul Ewing; Duane Morris; Lanny J. Davis and Associates; Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP; Jenner & Block LLP; ML Strategies; Lee, Green & Reiter Inc. and Klink & Co.

Externally initiated investigations account for another $49,788 and include payments to Margolis & Healy.Penn State told the Pittsburgh Post Gazette it also has spent $543,079 in legal defense for Mr. Spanier, who is not charged with any crime, and for both Tim Curley, who is on administrative leave as Penn State's athletic director, and Gary Schultz, retired as senior vice president of business and finance, both of whom are charged with one count each of perjury and failure to report.

Penn State told the Pittsburgh Post Gazette its bylaws state that, except as prohibited by law, "every trustee and officer of the University" is indemnified by Penn State against expenses including counsel fees and financial liability.

The school listed other institutional expenses related to the scandal at $724,623.

With the trial set to begin – Penn State’s image will experience a full frontal assault. The school has done an exceptional job of distancing themselves from Sandusky. Rodney Erickson has been proactive as the school’s new president in delivering a message that Penn State will hold itself accountable and Bill O’Brien who left the New England Patriots to become Penn State’s head football coach has become a breath of fresh air. All that said – as ready as Penn State has been, it remains to be seen if how the school and the football program will weather the storm.

“This isn't about football or coaches or who you like better. The Penn State scandal is about what happened to those young boys in the shower stall. The horror of those 'alleged' moments is almost lost in the uproar and focus over the shakeup of an historical and cultural mob mentality that ignores the small and crushes the weak,” Ph.D. therapist and couples expert Dr. Tammy Nelson told The Huffington Post.

“Even in the media coverage of the recent shake-up at the college, the focus has been on the loving and loyal connection to the old guard football legends of coaching at Penn State. We ignore the victims of the abuse by a coach who was accused 18 times of abusing young boys and instead hear interviews and news coverage of nostalgia for the good old boy/good old days. That type of loyalty to the team spirit could have and should have kept all the team players safe and protected instead of throwing the weak and vulnerable to the wolves for the sake of the big game.” Nelson concluded.

The victims who were eight to ten when Jerry Sandusky allegedly abused the men who are set to face Sandusky may indeed rock Penn State and college athletics to its very foundation.

For Sports Business News this is Howard Bloom

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