Is there no law in Pennsylvania or bylaw at Penn State like the one requiring the NCAA to act for the good of the health and safety of its athletes?
The NCAA bylaw in its NCAA 2011-12 Division I Manual is very clear: "2.2.3 Health and Safety. [*] It is the responsibility of each member institution to protect the health of, and provide a safe environment for, each of its participating student-athletes." (Adopted: 1/10/95)
Surely, this is all that is needed to get Joe Paterno's statue down, even by NCAA edict, and to declare the death penalty for Penn State's failures in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky pedophile scandal.
Why it took until 1995 for this to become a bylaw of the NCAA is unclear. Perhaps there was a predecessor to this provision. Perhaps the NCAA thought that this was the province of another part of its member universities.
Now we have a complete failure of at least three important institutions to act properly. The NCAA, Penn State and prosecutors in Pennsylvania have all failed to act as they should have. It is becoming ever more evident that the institutions themselves do not really care. Otherwise, much more would have been done at this point.
What is so hard for prosecutors facing an institution whose president, treasurer and head coach appear so obviously criminal to file criminal charges against the institution itself? After all, Penn State is a state institution subject to the laws of Pennsylvania. Surely, it could be criminally prosecuted.
Why has Penn State failed to act against Joe Paterno? Is Penn State trying its best to exonerate itself from liability for failing to act properly? Is Penn State siding with the Paterno family, believing against all odds that a man who is now known to have been close with another man for decades who all the time wrongfully harmed boys simply did not have any idea of what was going on? Like the Catholic Church perhaps. After all, Joe Paterno was Catholic.
If this is not the reason these institutions are failing to act, are they all worried that they themselves might be the target of civil lawsuits? Perhaps only Penn State's trustees are worried about their own liability. Yet, it is unclear whether and how far one might go in claiming institutional failure here. Who would be liable if a civil jury had the NCAA, Penn State and maybe even the State of Pennsylvania as defendants?
The best legal advice so far came from the lawyer on the Board of Trustees who did not let Paterno, already having negotiated as sweetheart a deal as possible, to lie his way into retirement. Remember, the Board fired Paterno after he attempted to "retire."
Yet the Board has failed to act since that time. Allowing the Paterno family to argue that Joe "Pa" was innocent and unknowing, and the Freeh report full of holes. They have kept the statue of Joe "Pa" in front of the stadium, showing that football victories are more important than boys ruined lives. And they sit on that statue and their football program which should be discontinued for at least a year.
Not just one boy was known by Joe "Pa" Paterno. Not "just" back to 1998. But new claims are being made that the molestation and rapes begain at least in the 1970s. Joe Paterno somehow did not know that one of his closest friends was a pederast despite about forty years of pederasty?
This failure to act is almost as repugnant as that of the NCAA, whose bylaw is very clear. What do they want to do? Let Penn State dither until the 2012-13 football season is underway, then "investigate" into the next few years only to find that some eventual decision of Penn State is enough.
Or claim that since this is being criminally prosecuted (not Penn State, however) they cannot act?
The more time that transpires, the more obvious it is to the victims and those of us who care that these institutions protect their own.
The prosecutors, whose prosecutions of Jerry Sandusky and the Penn State officials may be seen as having done some pioneering work. But in reality, they are still protecting Penn State.
The NCAA is protecting Penn State over the athletes they are supposed to protect.
And Penn State trustees are protecting themselves.
It is time for Pennsylvania's governor to step forward and demand that his attorney general get into the act, asking for the AG to consider whether Penn State is criminally liable for the actions of its lead executives in charge of a sick football program, and to call for or decide to end Penn State's football program for at least a year.
It is time for the NCAA to announce a death penalty for Penn State's apparent decades of failures and related cover-ups, declaring in no uncertain words that any actions like these will end up with the same result.
It is time for Penn State to remove the Paterno statue and confirm once and for all that Paterno will no longer be revered.
Without more, these institutions are part of the still ongoing cover-up.