Where are the adults at Penn State?

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Where are the adults at Penn State?

Where are the leaders who are willing to take a prominent stand and say that anyone who knew about Jerry Sandusky’s acts and didn’t pass that information along to the authorities needs to be fired? Why is justice, so long deferred in Happy Valley, still taking so long? If Joe Paterno had given a car to a recruit, he’d be fired immediately. Yet he helps to cover up a child molester for decades and he gets to go out on his own terms? What kind of strange, through the looking glass world, have we really entered in college athletics?

One of the major issues with college sports is that NCAA violations are often treated as immoral acts. We use terms like guilt or innocence when discussing whether or not a rules violation has occurred. When A.J. Green, or Jim Tressel, or Dez Bryant or Bruce Pearl commit one of these violations, the sanctimony that ensues is akin to that of a major crime being committed. Justice, many argue, must be done. But NCAA violations aren’t major crimes at all and NCAA sanctions aren’t really justice. They’re just rules that were broken. Rules that, in the NCAA’s case, are often arbitrary, capricious, and designed to ensure that the poorest among us remain, throughout their entire college careers, the poorest among us.

Any reasonable fan should have a real issue with crimes against the state or country being penalized less than NCAA violations. And right now Joe Paterno and Penn State are guilty of such a high level of lack of institutional control that a child molester was using their locker room as the scene of his own crime spree. It makes you long for the good ole days of SMU.  

And yet nothing is happening to send a message that this can’t be allowed.   

Today Joe Paterno announced that he would retire at the end of the season. Joe Paterno gets to go out on his own terms despite his clear complicity in allowing a child molester’s reign of terror to continue at Penn State? That’s unacceptable. And it should be offensive to every human being’s notiions of fair play and justice.

SEC commissioner Mike Slive suspended Bruce Pearl eight games for lying about a BBQ. Yet Joe Paterno gets to coach the remainder of the season after responding to a the anal rape of a 10 year old boy in his locker room by telling his boss?

I asked this question in Sunday’s column calling for Paterno’s firing, but if one of your trusted subordinates came to you and said he or she had witnessed a ten-year old being raped at your place of business would you feel you’d done everything you could if you merely told your boss? Wouldn’t you think to take that crime to authorities? But if all you did was tell your boss and then no punishment happened and the rapist continued to come hang out at your business would you really feel like you’d done everything that you could have?

Of course not.

Yet that’s exactly what Joe Paterno did.

Where is Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany in this? Where is the Governor of Pennsylvania. (Yesterday the Governor’s office declined comment to OKTC on Joe Paterno and Penn State). Where are the adults in State College, Pennsylvania?

We rely on these adults to protect our children. Those adults are still not present. There is still no leadership in Happy Valley. The number of Jerry Sandusky victims is now over twenty and climbing. The reality is there are probably over a hundred kids who were victimized over the past three or four decades. Decades! The scary thing isn’t that there are monsters like Sandusky among us. The scary thing is that there are monsters in our midst who are enabled by adults that know better and that we allow the monsters to continue to be monsters.

If we can’t protect the most disadvantaged kids in our society from known sexual predators, what good are adults anyway?

The cruelest thing about Sandusky is that he chose the kids who already had reason not to trust adults, won their confidence by being nice, and then raped them. 

The cruelest thing about Penn State is that so many people knew and did nothing to stop him. 

We still don’t know who that ten-year old boy that Sandusky raped in the Penn State locker room is. But put yourself in that kid’s position for just an insant. He’s being raped in the shower, probably begging for someone to stop the assault, and then suddenly that kid’s prayers are answered. Out of the darkness comes a grown man, 28 year old grad assistant Mike McQueary. The kid must have been joyful, his prayers were suddenly answered. He was saved! Then what does McQueary do after making eye contact with that boy? He does what just about every adult in that kid’s life had already done, he abandons him. The scary thing isn’t that people like Jerry Sandusky rape children.

The scariest thing of all is when adults who know better are too scared to confront the monsters.

We’re all complicit when that happens.

Every single one of us.

That shower rape happened in 2002. How many more years did that same kid get raped? How many more children faced a similar fate? All because the adults in our society failed.

And they’re still failing in State College, Pennsylvania.

Last night Penn State announced that they would undertake a thorough investigation. A thorough investigation! Now, ten years after you had the opportunity to make this all stop? Given the way Penn State has been handling justice I expect to hear that Jerry Sandusky will be chairing the committee. Now is not the time for more committees or more studies, or more of anything at all like this. Now is the time for good people to act. People who understand that the entirety of Penn State leadership was complicit in these crimes.

Jerry Sandusky was still working out in the Penn State gym last week!

Last night Penn State students showed up at Joe Paterno’s house in a show of support. 

Paterno led them in Penn State cheers. 

Seriously, I couldn’t believe this could happen. 

Watching this video tells you that many on the Penn State campus are still complicit in the Sandusky cover-up.

Paterno and his crew will eventually get their day in court. But arguing about due process and being innocent until proven guilty are terms for a court. Right now Joe Paterno, the university president, and anyone else who knew about these kids rapes and did nothing other than pass up the report needs to be fired.

Right. Now.

If I was governor of Pennsylvania, I would call a press conference and announce the immediate firings of Joe Paterno and university president Graham Spanier. Effective immediately. Penn State is a state institution. If there are no adults in State College then someone needs to lead. 

Sadly, right now, no one in the entire state of Pennsylvania seems capable of being an adult. 

Is it any wonder then that Jerry Sandusky was allowed to be a monster for so long?

We all teach our kids that monsters don’t exist, and then as soon as we see one, do you know what we do? We run and hide behind the kids. 

That’s a crying shame and it has to end. 


If you still haven’t read the 23 page Grand Jury report, you need to read that now.  

Written by Clay Travis

Clay Travis is the founder of the fastest growing national multimedia platform, OutKick, that produces and distributes engaging content across sports and pop culture to millions of fans across the country. OutKick was created by Travis in 2011 and sold to the Fox Corporation in 2021.

One of the most electrifying and outspoken personalities in the industry, Travis hosts OutKick The Show where he provides his unfiltered opinion on the most compelling headlines throughout sports, culture, and politics. He also makes regular appearances on FOX News Media as a contributor providing analysis on a variety of subjects ranging from sports news to the cultural landscape. Throughout the college football season, Travis is on Big Noon Kickoff for Fox Sports breaking down the game and the latest storylines.

Additionally, Travis serves as a co-host of The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show, a three-hour conservative radio talk program syndicated across Premiere Networks radio stations nationwide.

Previously, he launched OutKick The Coverage on Fox Sports Radio that included interviews and listener interactions and was on Fox Sports Bet for four years. Additionally, Travis started an iHeartRadio Original Podcast called Wins & Losses that featured in-depth conversations with the biggest names in sports.

Travis is a graduate of George Washington University as well as Vanderbilt Law School. Based in Nashville, he is the author of Dixieland Delight, On Rocky Top, and Republicans Buy Sneakers Too.