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Published: Friday, 7/13/2012

PENN STATE SCANDAL

Report says football was allowed to rule itself

BY MARK DENT
BLOCK NEWS ALLIANCE

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- For years it has been the perception of many that Penn State University's president, the board of trustees, and other administrators ruled their part of the university but the powerhouse college football team, which has made as much as $50 million in annual profits, was allowed to operate under its own governance.

The Freeh report, the product of an investigation undertaken because of the Jerry Sandusky sex crimes scandal and made public Thursday, provided documentation of that notion, concluding that Penn State's athletic department was a closed community, an "island" separate from the university where employees followed their own rules.

Many employees of the football program had long-standing Penn State ties, and they followed the law which had been built up around legendary coach Joe Paterno.

Even the janitors followed.

A janitor witnessed Jerry Sandusky with a boy in the showers at the Lasch Building in 2000.

The Freeh report noted that one of them told another not to report the sexual assault because it "would have been like going against the president of the United States."

"What I found to be extremely telling … is the janitors," said Louis Freeh, the former FBI director who directed the investigation at the behest of university trustees.

"The janitors, that's the tone on the bottom. These are the employees of Penn State who clean and maintain locker rooms in the Lasch Building where the young boys are being raped. They witnessed probably the most horrific rape that's described. And what do they do? They panic.

"They said we can't report this because we'll get fired. They knew who Sandusky was. One of the janitors watched him growing up as the defensive coach. They were afraid to take on the football program. They said the university would circle around it. … If that's the culture on the bottom, then God help the culture on top."

Some of the major revelations listed in the Freeh report, aside from the extent to which Mr. Paterno, former president Graham Spanier, former athletic director Tim Curley and former vice president Gary Schultz covered up Mr. Sandusky's crimes, involved the regulation and power of the athletic department, primarily the football team.

Mr. Freeh's team wrote that the football program opted out of or did not participate in several university programs, notably training for the federal Clery Act. The Clery Act requires the public reporting of campus crimes.

Overall, Mr. Freeh's team described a culture of reverence for the football program "ingrained at all levels of the campus community."

The program revered by the masses was run by men the Freeh report described as neglectful of the well-being of young people.

"Some coaches, administrators and football program staff members ignored the red flags of Sandusky's behaviors and no one warned the public about him," the report stated.

The Block News Alliance consists of The Blade and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Mark Dent is a reporter for the Post-Gazette.

Contact Mark Dent at: mdent@post-gazette.com or Twitter @mdent05.



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