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A Message to Penn State and the Public

This community content was originally published as a Facebook note. 

I am posting this because for those of you who know me you also know that my essential being and person can ultimately be defined in one thing, Penn State. I grew up in a Penn State home, in rural (and I do mean rural) Pennsylvania, dreamed of going to Penn State, went to Penn State, and continue to represent and be an ambassador for the school that has given me so much. The entire Penn State scandal has shaken me all the way to the deepest part of my core. It is very hard for me to put in to words how I feel but I am going to try, so upcoming will be my best attempt. Penn State students and alums, there are special messages at the end for you, so please if nothing else, read them if you are too uncomfortable reading about the rest.

I have decided to make this note a public one, so hopefully some Penn Staters and part of the general public who are confused, misinformed, or just generally have no idea what is going on may read it and it can offer some perspective on the situation that has made the entire nation sick to its stomach. I invite all of you to discuss openly opinions and use this as a forum for awareness and to cultivate a discussion that needs to take place, and to my professor at Penn State, Michelle Rodino-Colocino, you are part of my inspiration for this, thank you for always making it ok to talk about anything.

For those of you who firmly stand in different camps, I salute you, that means you care, however, don’t cement yourself in the ground there, things will change, and quickly, so please be open to a change in opinion just as I am. Most of you have VERY STRONG opinions, which is fine, I have tried to temper back my feelings to take a more objective approach. Whether that was successful or not I will leave up to you. Finally, do not attack each other, listen to others opinions and state yours, but no more hate needs to come out of this than there already has, this is America, people are entitled to opinions. If your opinion were the ultimate authority, you would not be reading this post, you would be leading the world, so please remember that while commenting.

I will touch on a variety of topics, starting with the accused and going all the way to addressing Penn State students and Alumni, so bear with me. Not all of you will agree with all I have to say, and that is fine because I am not even close to an expert on the subject, and am probably missing some things in my arguments, but for those of you who don’t agree I hope my perspective at least opens up to you a new possibility and makes you think, as well as poses as a starting point for discussion to take place which will help shape my future opinions as well. All of this will undoubtedly change but here are my lengthy initial reactions:

Topic 1- Jerry Sandusky 

He is regarded as a phenomenal defensive mind and had a great tenure at Penn State being the DC for two national championship teams. He was around for 32 years on the Penn State coaching staff and during his time was loved by most Penn State football fans for regularly producing an above average defense with at least some degree of NFL level talent somewhere in the starting line-up. He is being accused of sexually assaulting 8 different young boys singled out within his charity The Second Mile. For those of you who read the 23 page Findings of Fact by the Grand Jury you, like myself, are absolutely mortified at the acts he allegedly performed. The acts are beyond grotesque and if they are indeed true there is no punishment grand enough for such a heinous crime. Although Sandusky himself maintains his innocence, (as reiterated by his lawyer already) the evidence is monumentally stacked against him. There is no way that this amount of evidence piles together on accident or coincidence. The only reason I even still type alleged is because due process has not run its course. After reading that graphic novel of a 23-page document, there is no way you can defend him at this juncture. You just can’t make that stuff up. Let it run its course, he will get what is coming to him.

Topic 2- Mike McQueary

Mike is a current wide receiver coach and recruiting coordinator for the Penn State football team, he is the graduate assistant who allegedly in 2002 witnessed Sandusky performing anal sex with a victim approximately 10 years of age in the Lasch Football Building showers. I am so sorry Mike, I cannot imagine what witnessing this can do to someone, especially someone who I am sure looked up to Sandusky (being that he was a former player). Mike immediately left the building and called his father who advised he turn it over to Paterno. He did just that. Mike did what any person who grows up in American society would do, realized he did not know what to do, but went to a trusted person and advisor to seek counsel on the situation. It is standard protocol. In any other situation or environment Mike would have been commended as a hero for what he did in not remaining silent, but we all know this is where failure begins, so he will not be awarded that opportunity. Mike is a victim in this as well, and I would like to say thank you Mike, you did do the right thing in telling someone what you saw, not everyone, including some people who are reading this might have been brave enough to report that. If Mike didn’t tell someone, what would have happened? This could still be going on and no one would know. So if you have reservations on Mike’s actions, be careful with what you say. However, there are some holes in this story that require some more questions.

The difficult questions to ask:
Did you follow up after reporting it? What about after you still saw Sandusky around? I know you are smarter than that, you had to know something wasn’t right. McQueary is more responsible for this than Joe Paterno is, whether you like it or not.
If it something you saw, beyond ANY doubt, how could you ever see Sandusky around the program and not just want to just kill him for what you saw?
After it went through what the AD (who probably signs his checks) called due process, did you question it? Did you think due process was served?

And to the public, if you thought questioning the process of your superior investigating something you saw would endanger your job and financial future, would YOU follow up and push for justice?

Topic 3- Joe Paterno

There is very little in this story that I have a stronger opinion on than Joe Paterno. For those of you who think Joe Paterno is to blame and was knowingly covering it up for 15 years, I am sorry but that is something I am not willing to accept at this juncture and there is no real evidence beyond speculation to support that. I read the report, I know what it says, but there is nothing in there to make me believe he knew of it the whole time and just did nothing. He did do something. He reported it to the PROPER people literally the day after he had talked to McQueary. It is then in the hands of Curley, not Joe Paterno. If Joe Paterno had in fact immediately went above his superiors (which has happened before, and in any normal working environment, is NEVER advised) and went straight to the police, the police would have asked him this question, “Did you witness it?” His answer would have been no and they would have worked with McQueary and the parties involved to investigate, so Paterno would be again out of the legal equation. It still would have been a huge story, but Paterno’s integrity would not have been in question. He is REQUIRED since he did not witness said event to turn it over to the proper persons so they may conduct an investigation and decide what the best course of action is. If he did not do so he would be in as much crap as the rest of them. That then falls in the jurisdiction of the Penn State Administration, NOT Joe Paterno. Joe Paterno is a football coach, not a detective, not an investigator. If he truly thought this happened he needed to report it to Penn State authorities because in a work environment it isn’t his decision to make, it NEEDED to be investigated by Penn State FIRST before the police, and he IS NOT the person to do that job. While he represents Penn State and IS Penn State, HE IS NOT PENN STATE. There are however, moral implications, and this…

Yes this will unfortunately end Joe Paterno’s career in my opinion, not because he is wrong in his actions, and most certainly not because he was covering anything up for the state of the program (I truly do believe that, and if that turns out to be the case, my world will be shattered), but because Paterno has said before that when he starts to become a distraction and hurts the program he will step aside. This will more than likely turn in to that situation because in the court of public opinion he has already been hung. The majority of the pessimistic public thinks this is a MASSIVE cover up from the ground up and some tend to think Paterno was behind it all because he wanted to maintain the positive view of the program. Look, I understand “The Grand Experiment” is important to Joe but Penn Staters and general public alike ask yourself this, Do you HONESTLY think Joe Paterno would hold the state of the program above the welfare of children? There is absolutely no way, you can not hide the fact you are a bad person for 60 YEARS and not have one thing to question your integrity or honesty up to that point then all of a sudden turn back around and hide molestation of children. He has been cooperative and has been cleared by the State (for now) and at this point is not a target, yet he remains a target by the general public and by the media because of the simple fact it happened within Penn State football which is regarded with a squeaky clean image that people outside of Penn State simply can not stand.

For years Paterno has been regarded as an almost God-like figure within the public eye, who stands for everything right in College Football. However, he is in fact human. He cannot see all. I absolutely can see Curley and Schultz telling Paterno (as any HR dept. or administration would) that the matter is being investigated and handled internally, as Paterno was not present at the meeting between McQueary and Curley/Schultz. At this point the matter is between McQueary, Curley, and Schultz. The only thing Paterno can do is say, “Hey Mike, is that situation being taken care of?” To which Mike probably said yes as I am sure he believed it was. Now, all of this happened over spring break, and for those of you who are football fans, you understand after spring break comes spring practice. At this point I am 100% positive both McQueary and Paterno’s focus was on spring ball, nothing else. After hearing the incident was reported to the Second Mile and Sandusky’s keys were taken away, what could McQueary, or even Paterno really do? In their mind it was being handled, his keys were taken away and he was asked not to bring kids on campus, however the tough question remains,

Did that solve the problem of the boy being raped in the shower?

Short answer, no. And that is what most people struggle with. However, is it entirely out of the realm of possibility to think that Paterno thought it was handled and decided to focus on his job and the football team? No. Now details will soon emerge as to Sandusky’s role after this incident in the program and whether he did still bring kids around the program after the incident. (It should be noted that it is generally believed Paterno and Sandusky were not each other’s biggest fans around the time of Jerry’s departure, so contact between the two was most likely minimal if this were the case.) If Paterno was suspicious and Sandusky was around and STILL bringing kids around, he should have reported it, no question, but we don’t know that to be the case for a fact. And none of this means that Paterno knew of what was going on and just turned the other cheek for the sake of the program, and to assume so is, while human, wrong. This system doesn’t always get it right, but it does a good majority of the time, so until something happens to tell me other wise, Paterno did nothing more than make a mistake a pretty big mistake in judgment, which we all are subject to. He is not out of the water, but also should not be judged as harshly as he currently is being.

Topic 4- Curley, Schultz, and the Administration

By this point we have a pretty clear picture of what their role was, they had a meeting with McQueary, post-witnessing the shower and post-meeting with Paterno. The Findings of Fact state they met with him and he said he saw something disturbing in the shower involving Sandusky and a little boy. This is where things get hazy, and if in fact they did know more than what they testified, they are at as much fault as anyone else and deserve whatever punishment is coming to them. The media is overlooking them and that sickens me to no end, because they were ultimately the ones who decided to take the course of action that decided the direction of the non-case.

They did not report it to the police, did not review a case in 1998 regarding Sandusky and inappropriate behavior, and allegedly did not know it existed. All they did was revoke his keys and say no more kids on campus, and report it to The Second Mile, which Sandusky is in charge of. Even if they did report it to the Second Mile, what did they think would happen to it once Sandusky found out about it? It would just disappear. They don’t have the same pass I give Joe, they don’t have the option to pass it up to, IT IS there job to investigate and report it to the police. This should have consumed their entire being while they investigated and the moment they had more than a reasonable doubt they absolutely should have gone to the police. Why they didn’t, I do not know, all I can do is say they are wrong in that manner and I am perplexed at how it didn’t end up in the authorities hands. It does however explain a little about some of the things that happened afterwards, like say, how he still had access to Lasch. If he didn’t people would ask questions undoubtedly, and answers WOULD have surfaced, there is no doubt this manner was discussed in detail in private, including Spanier, who ultimately had to give his seal of approval, and it is my belief that if there IS any level of cover up, this is where it started. Their actions make no logical sense, unless I am completely missing something. The course of action was to revoke him of his keys and ban him from bringing kids to the locker room while reporting the incident to The Second Mile.

Graham Spanier your time will come in this, as of now your role has been minumum, but we have not forgotten about you. If you knew as much as Curley and Schultz did, you are equally responsible, and deserve the same fate as they do.

Again ask yourself, but how does that solve the problem of the boy who was raped?

Topic 5- The Media

The media is where a lot of my disappointment lies. We (I say we because my degree is in Journalism) are supposed to be level headed, the voice of reason, but we live in an age where political opinion effects which news stations we watch and what papers we read because of hidden agendas of the media and our own. I don’t care what outlet your get your news from know this-the media is completely missing the point. I get it; you want to be the ones who breaks a story that Joe is leaving, but what about the victims? What about their families? What about the people WHO ARE ACTUALLY ACCUSED OF DOING WRONG? I understand if Paterno was involved in it there is a story there, but until something surfaces why are you talking about it? There are victims here, and all you are doing is potentially creating another one who out of all of them may be the most innocent. Paterno IS part of the story, but there has been nowhere that encompasses the full scope of what has happened aside from A COLLEGE NEWSPAPER.

I am begging you, please get the full story, and please stop calling for heads to roll until you know they in fact should roll.

I have seen enough lives unjustly ruined by the media taking them down. It is beyond a travesty to forever taint a legacy of good with something that “allegedly” happened. The damage has already been done, and if Paterno steps down and is ultimately cleared the media is responsible for ruining the greatest legacy in college sports history. But I’m sure you have already thought of that and decided that is a pill you are prepared to swallow.

Topic 6-Penn State Athletics and the Football Program

This will have an effect, a long term one. What effect it has on this team we will find out on Saturday but I do know this, this team has a lot of character, and I think they will play with something to prove for the rest of the season.

As for the future it will effect recruiting (it already has with 5 star defensive end Noah Spence, who placed PSU in the lead because of the integrity and image of the football program which may forever be tarnished) and when we clean house if it does happen, there will be a Michigan like transition period that will not be pretty. Penn State football will not die, there is too much talent, too much tradition, and too much money at stake to allow that, so do not panic.

If Joe goes, there are A LOT of coaches who would kill for this job. Regarding Urban Meyer, if he is interested he will come to us in due time. However, I am almost positive this will not happen until after the season. These acts are not the fault of the current players, and there is no reason to punish them by overhauling the entire coaching staff mid season, that is just ludicrous. Urban Meyer has too much respect for Penn State to come in and try to do that, and while Penn State as a whole may be panicking, they are too smart to do that as well. For those of you who heard rumors of him buying a house in Boalsburg, here is Steve Jones’ comment on that- “In 1977 Roger Staubach allegedly bought a home in pleasant gap to become the offensive coordinator…that rumor ran all over the place for weeks and Roger kept showing up in Dallas for some odd reason.” So until something official is released, he will keep showing up to ESPN, so calm down.

Topic 7- Penn State Alumni and Students

You are probably as torn apart by this as I am. It feels as though someone has torn out my very soul. If you need inspiration in all of this I ask you look in two places, first and foremost with each other. The saying We Are Penn State is not here by accident. We are a family, and families stick together through thick and thin. Support one another and stand strong, brighter days are coming I promise you.

Next I hope that you look to THON if you need a reminder as to how powerful Penn State can be. Penn State decided they wanted to make a movement back in 1973 that has turned in to the biggest student run philanthropy in the world. If Penn State can take something as negative as childhood cancer and turn it in to something so powerful and beautiful I see no reason why the same can’t be done here.

Now I have already seen protests and threats made at the athletic department and I ask that you PLEASE stop this. You are not punishing those who are wrong by stopping donations; you are punishing future kids and their education by doing that. Your donations keep the University running and tuition from rising to astronomical levels. If you think stopping Penn State’s revenue stream punishes those who are wrong in this case you are mistaken. I ask that you instead participate in a movement I found today that students are trying to put together which is a Blue Out this weekend to raise Childhood Abuse Awareness. Instead of taking such a negative approach against those who are wrong I invite you to take a stand and try to help those who are hurt and those who might be hurt in the future. We all know how powerful Penn State can be, and maybe with your help we can prevent something like this from happening in the future and create another movement that could turn in to something equally good and powerful as THON.

Finally, please show up this weekend, and continue to support this team. They are as confused and lost as you and I, and showing the Penn State community stands together is the only way I know how to do this because Penn State you are a part of my family, I will always stand behind you because you always do what is right. Do not let the shameful acts of a few be the representation of Penn State as a whole. Take your anger and use it productively. Defend your school, make sure the world knows that this is NOT what Penn State stands for and we are doing all we can to fix it and make sure it never happens again. We are better than some of the actions and movements I have seen thus far. Stand strong, stand proud, and STAND TOGETHER while you sing your alma matter. Lastly, sing it and mean it when you say “May no act of ours bring shame…” this weekend.

We are…and always will be…Penn State

Kevin Fay
Penn State 09

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