WHAT’S A NITTANY?

Okay, here’s my take on the latest at Penn State.

After the Freeh Report it is evident that Joe Paterno was aware enough of what was going on that, with his power, he could have put a stop to it immediately and prevented further damage. I understand that the report is somewhat vague in its evidence that Paterno was an active participant in the coverup of the scandal.

Joe Paterno was hailed as a leader throughout his coaching tenure, even more so as he was deemed an exception to the image of college coach as a mere money grubbing gun for hire. And this image as leader reached a pinnacle as he donated large sums for the campus library, a place many football coaches may not know even exists.

The controversial statue, now removed, included the appellation “leader”.

The argument goes that his nominal superiors at the school were the ones who failed to act in a timely manner. But given his level of influence and the power that his fame and reputation afforded him, he should have taken the bull by the horns and made certain that these “superiors” properly reported the ongoing crimes or that he did so himself, damn the consequences.

Do not ignore the fact that his same hold on power was sufficient to prevent his firing in tougher football times that most coaches would not have survived. So if Joe had declared that the proper authorities would be notified and the Sandusky matter put in non university hands, that is what would have been done and that would be the sign and action of a true leader.

Thus, the Sunday removal of his statue citing him as a leader is entirely appropriate. His failure as a leader in this case didn’t lead to young men losing football games, it led them to suffering unspeakable indignities to their bodies and souls.

On Monday the incredibly corrupt and hypocritical NCAA announced punishments to be visited on the football team, forfeiture of games, loss of scholarships, and a ban from bowl games among them.

To me there is no connection with the football team other than the coach…and by extension the athletic department. But the failure to act/coverup, however it is characterized, had nothing to do with providing the football team or other sports with any manner of competitive advantage.  It had nothing to do with the current or recent past players at the school. It gave them no extra benefits, didn’t excuse them from classes or award them undeserved passing grades.

Thus the penalties assessed are a vast overreach from an organization that is inept in its efforts to enforce compliance to its vast code of conduct that would challenge IRS regulations in complexity.

Big time college sports, i.e. football and men’s basketball, are bereft of morals and worship mammon as a god, represented by the Idols of Baal named Saban and Pitino and all those other members of the coaching fraternity with incomes and perquisites far in excess of any intrinsic enhancement they lend to the primary missions of their benefactors, those universities presumably engaged in education.

I have forsaken the athletics of my own two time alma mater, West Virginia University. I was a fan of Penn State football prior to my matriculation at WVU since, ironically, I was following the exploits of home town boy…Jerry Sandusky.

Much as I criticize the sports centric universities today, I am able to separate the sins of the athletic programs subject to NCAA oversight from people involved with an athletic program at a university whose sins were peripheral and tangential to the operation of those athletic programs.

The penalties placed on Penn State are overkill in the first degree. Since the justification within the NCAA rulebook is ambiguous at best, it is as if Dean Wormer had them on Double Secret Probation and has now seen fit to confiscate the house furnishings that were not even stolen.

I find two troubling aspects remaining. One is that too many graduates of and present students at Penn State will be judged by outsiders on the basis of the Sandusky scandal and looked down on as inferior.

The second is that so many of these same graduates and students have so thoroughly identified themselves as Penn Staters via the football team that one could argue they deserve this denigrating image.

But, and this comes at least partially under full disclosure, my own beloved older son is a proud Penn State alumnus who received an excellent education and while he is.. or was…a JoePa fanatic his own values that he demonstrates every day of his life are contrary to the obscene machinations of Sandusky and the refusal of the adults in the room to take corrective and punitive action.

Yet I am aware that he may disagree with at least parts of this essay. If so, and if that indicates that independent thinking is a byproduct of his education, I welcome his dissent.

Thus the answer to my title question is that a Nittany is a Penn Stater of which their are hundreds of thousands and to portray them as a homogeneous entity belies the truth that this group consists of angels and demons as easily as it does engineers and teachers or any other variety of the human condition to be found in such a large demographic.

Finally while those among us predisposed to self-righteousness (myself sometimes included) remain loyal to our schools and athletic teams, condonation of the mundane sins of these football and basketball factories is rampant.

Let he who is without sin………

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Comments

  • Lawson  On July 24, 2012 at 2:49 AM

    Well said but I still don’t know what a nittany is.

  • little_minx  On July 24, 2012 at 5:36 PM

    Sheesh, what a Nittany picker… (forgive me, I can resist everything except temptation).

    UMOC, have you found any published reports of Sandusky being molested, or a molester, during his Little Washington days? If so, could you share them? Or have you personally talked to anyone who knew him then, who might know? (Just think, you could potentially break news on your blog, and I think nowadays the Pulitzer committee might count that!)

    • umoc193  On July 24, 2012 at 5:51 PM

      Nothing that anyone has stated for either case. There are some tough guys who have posted comments that if he had ever tried anything with them they would have put his lights out. Believe me, if I had such info I would share it unless a person’s life or an investigation would be compromised. Unlike Paterno I would report it to the proper authorities.

      • little_minx  On July 24, 2012 at 11:30 PM

        Well, Sandusky HAD to have learned his child-raping ways somewhere, and undoubtedly a long time ago (so protected by the statute of limitations).

      • little_minx  On July 25, 2012 at 1:08 PM

        In view of Sandusky’s age (68), I bet there are still folks around Washington, PA., who remember (or at least had mighty strong suspicions).

        BTW, did you catch this story in the WaPo? (Morbid thought: I wonder if she, or her parents, will be forced to refund the settlement for violating the confidentiality clause after a quarter-century).
        “Curl-Burke founder Rick Curl faces hearing on former swimmer’s account of underage sexual relationship in 1980s”:
        http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/olympics/swim-coach-rick-curl-local-faces-disciplinary-hearing-from-usa-swimming/2012/07/25/gJQAg78q8W_story.html

        • umoc193  On July 25, 2012 at 2:08 PM

          Hmmmm, the Currin case is curious. Apparently no civil suit was filed so the settlement is just a plain old contract and any limitations on talking about the experience should be explicitly spelled out in it. Without the actual agreement in hand it’s difficult to know what loopholes it left open, if any. I could probably make some public policy argument to keep the silence provision from being enforced, but the weight of public opinion will be against the coach so I suspect he may not pursue that angle.

          Still hung up on Sandusky, huh? Last fall there were interviews with a number of people who knew him from home in both the Washington paper and USA Today. Not one admitted to having an inkling he was a pedophile or could himself have been molested as a kid. Unless he comes forward or some accusers from his youth emerge, I believe this aspect is at a dead end.

  • little_minx  On July 25, 2012 at 3:42 PM

    Here ya go: Text of the Currin-Curl non-disclosure agreement.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/sports/curl-settlement-agreement.html (slow to download on my computer)

    I wonder if Currin could get the confidentiality clause retroactively nullified on coercion grounds.

    • umoc193  On July 27, 2012 at 12:15 AM

      I just read the agreement and, surprisingly, any damages for breach of confidentiality appear to be limited to forfeiting yet to be made payments during the ten year period. Since the payments have been completed, she’s off the hook.

      There is, though, another clause that suggests if disclosure occurs, the offended party can seek damages. Such damages would be determined through arbitration/litigation but she wouldn’t forfeit the sums already paid.

      It is fairly late and this evening I went through a frustrating power outage since I could not watch the Pirates game. So I may not be at my sharpest at the moment. I’ll try to return to the agreement over the next couple days to see if my analysis changes.

  • little_minx  On July 27, 2012 at 9:36 AM

    Sorry to hear of your power outage; there was considerable banging in the sky here as well, but we lucked out this time. On the plus side, it must be a comfort to know that at least the Pirates are good enough thus far this season to be able to win even without you. I do empathize, though, as we had an outage for ca. 7 hours on July 4 causing us to miss, inter alia, “A Capitol Fourth” on PBS, which is a tradition for us.

    We also missed most of “A Capitol Fourth” a few years ago after a notorious drunkard well known to our local constabulary plowed his car into a power pole down the street; he harmed no one else and was relatively unhurt himself, but everyone on our block was really ticked off. I was then saddened when, the following month, renowned pops-conductor Erich Kunzel died of cancer — his leading of the National Symphony on that 4th had been his last major gig, which I missed.

    • umoc193  On July 29, 2012 at 12:25 AM

      Somehow this comment got marked as Spam. Have you been around a Hormel factory lately?

      Worst power outage I’ve experienced was a few years ago on Super Bowl weekend. A snow and ice storm wreaked havoc on a Saturday morning. I waited till late afternoon and realized the power would probably not be back till late that night or Sunday. I called some friends but the only ones I could get hold of were either snowed in or already were overflowing with guests suffering the same fate.

      I called the local NoTell Motel and they had one room available. It was the only place with vacancies I could afford. I checked in and they delivered a space heater to my room since the in-room unit was on the fritz.

      I went home Sunday but still no juice so I went to a local bar to watch the game (Steelers not involved). I ran into a buddy and in the course of the game I told him my dilemma and he said I could sleep on his couch. When the game was over and he was ready to leave he instructed me to folow him since he had moved since I’d last been at his house. I didn’t know the address and when he made a left and I had to wait for cars to pass so I could follow, he was out of sight (pretty drunk, ya know?)

      So I called the motel and they had a room left, this one with heat and I checked in near midnight.

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