The conclusions reached by investigators looking into the sex abuse scandal at Penn State University should prompt soul searching among those involved in college and university sports throughout the nation.
A 267-page report on the tragedy found that former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky's predation against boys could have been stopped years ago, had Penn State officials including the late Coach Joe Paterno acted against him instead of worrying about tarnishing the Nittany Lions' storied football reputation.
Misdeeds and outright crimes by players and coaches at some colleges and universities may not be as despicable as what Sandusky did, but all too often they are covered up for the same reasons as those that motivated Penn State officials.
Perpetuating a culture that tolerates misbehavior in order to avoid casting an unflattering light on a sports program is wrong. It can result in great, lasting harm, as it has in the Penn State case.
The NCAA on Monday slapped Penn?State with a series of harsh punishments, including a $60 million fine, the loss of some football scholarships and a four-year ban on playing in postseason bowl games. The punishment was well-deserved, and Penn State officials agreed to the sanctions rather than face the death of the football program for up to four years, according to some reports.
While Penn State fans and sports commentators are yakking and bemoaning the loss of scholarships or the financial impact the penalties will have on the university, one thing should never be forgotten: Children were sexually molested over a period of years by an employee of the university, and the highest-ranking officials at Penn State, including the president, the athletic director and Paterno, knew it was happening and did nothing to stop it. The children and their families are the victims in this situation, not the university.
The loss of scholarships or anything else related the university's football team means nothing in the big picture of this atrocious situation. Four years with economic sanctions and sports-related penalties doesn't compare to the pain suffered by the abuse victims, who will forever be impacted by the abuse forced upon them by former assistant coach Sandusky.
Penn State got what it deserved.