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Penn State scandal exposes more NCAA flaws

BY IAN MARTIN | NOVEMBER 08, 2011 7:20 AM

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When sitting to write this column, the following Mumford and Sons lyrics played through my headphones:

"My heart was never pure / And you know me / You know me / But Man is a giddy thing."

Ambiguously applied, the line from "Sigh No More" could so simply describe the NCAA. The masses are in denial that the NCAA is impure, even though the corruption is bludgeoning us.

The one defense that has kept us giddy things at bay is that it's for the kids. The NCAA's daily goal is to turn football players into men.

But the soul of the NCAA's participating institutions after the Jerry Sandusky case has now been proven artificial. Penn State's 22-year former defensive coordinator faces numerous sexual-abuse charges stemming from alleged encounters with underage boys he met through his charity.

Sandusky is scum, but others are at fault for the encounters. Other charges being filed are for perjury against Penn State administrators — including former Athletics Director Tim Curley — for covering up the years of abuse.

Joe Paterno is not being charged, but it appears only because he has agreed to testify against his former blitz-caller.

But he knew, it seems. They all knew. Numerous people raised concerns to Paterno.

The alleged cover-up demonstrates the final straw of insincerity that the defenders of the oppressors hoped could validate the existence of the NCAA: the promise that Big Brother could guide kids into adulthood.

Gifts such as education would justify what was really business. JoePa agreed in a 2003 press conference when talking about embattled center E.Z. Smith.

"We are in the business of trying to help kids grow up," Paterno said when declaring he would give Smith a second chance after the latter got in trouble for shooting arrows through a dorm wall.

But if college football really exists to help kids, then Paterno and Company had to have pursued the Sandusky allegations. Kids much younger than the ones playing in Beaver Stadium were reportedly being sexually molested and raped — not by a faceless pedophile, but by a colleague.

Instead, silence led to more abuse, more ruining of childhood, and more kids exposed to Penn State football as a nightmare instead of the glorious dreams fulfilled during a whiteout.

And the Nittany Lions were the NCAA's exemplary program, a coach and collective known for producing great men as well as great pigskin.

A Penn State football player — the disciples of Joseph Vincent Paterno himself — affects many people. My former high-school principal played under Paterno in the early 1970s and always used a JoePa mantra when trying to encourage kids who weren't realizing their scholastic potential.

While not verbatim, my memory of it is, "Every day you either get better or worse. So there's no reason not to get better today."

It's one of the truest concepts on Earth, in my opinion. But the Paterno Proverb has become self-inflicting for his 84-year old bones and their parent organization, the NCAA. The irremovable stain on Penn State's once-impermeable fabric has made the Nittany Lions worse today.

And maybe forever.


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