As the fallout from one of the worst — check that, the worst – scandal to ever hit college football continues, former Penn State players who were coached by Jerry Sandusky are struggling to come to grips with the child sex abuse allegations against the once-iconic assistant.
One of those players, LaVar Arrington, also happens to host his own radio show in the Washington D.C. area. On Monday, the former All-American linebacker took to the airwaves for what appeared to be one part discussion on the issue, one part therapy session in an attempt to make sense of a senseless crime and a reprehensible coverup.
“I always saw [Sandusky] giving back, I always saw him as being a part of the community, I always saw him working with kids and caring about them,” Arrington said by way of the Patriot-News.
“So when I heard about this information, when all of these allegations hit … it totally, and when I say totally, it totally took me off-guard. I was moved to tears. I looked at my children.”
Arrington’s final season at Penn State was 1999, which coincided with Sandusky’s last year on Joe Paterno‘s coaching staff, retiring after 31 seasons so that he could focus on running the children’s charity he had founded — and allegedly used to come into contact with his eight victims — two decades prior. One of Arrington’s teammates was Mike McQueary, who the Patriot-News named as the then-graduate assistant who, per the grand jury’s indictment, witnessed Sandusky engaged in anal sex with a 10-year-old in the shower of the Lasch Football Building in 2002.
While discussing the role of the football program in this mess, Arrington seemed to be struggling with the idea that McQueary, who is currently the Nittany Lions’ wide receivers coach, did nothing in the moment to stop Sandusky’s alleged sexual assault of a minor male.
“I know Mike [McQueary]. Mike was my quarterback,” Arrington said.
“I know him. So I’m trying to understand, how do you, and again, maybe he felt as though it would be better suited if it came from Coach Paterno. … I’m going to tell you right now, I gotta stop that [assault].
“Even if it’s, ‘Coach [Sandusky], I gotta stop you. … I gotta take this to Coach Paterno right now’. This is not good, oh my gosh, this is not good.”
Arrington added: “The natural instinct that would kick in, if I saw a child being violated, and I don’t care who they are, I don’t care who the person is that would be doing that. If you’re an adult and you are violating a child, all reputations, all everything, all that goes out the door.
“If that was Coach Paterno, like, ‘Coach, what are you doing? … You gotta come, you gotta come sit your [butt] down right here, I’m calling the cops’.”
It should be noted that McQueary took the information, after discussing what he had allegedly witnessed with his father, to Paterno, who passed what was he was told by the assistant up the administrative chain of command.
How the administrators, from athletic director Tim Curley all the way up to president Graham Spanier, handled the information is the saddest part of the whole sordid story, outside of the heinous crimes for which Sandusky has been charged. Why Paterno, one of the most powerful and respected men in the state of Pennsylvania, did not go to the authorities with the information when it became clear his bosses had decided to keep it in house, under the rug, remains unclear. Why McQueary, as eloquently argued by Arrington, did nothing in the moment to prevent a young boy from being further sodomized is likely only answerable by the assistant himself.
At the very least, individuals from the coaching staff on up through the upper levels of the university were aware that a naked 50-something man was seen in a shower on the university’s campus with a naked 10-year-old boy. That wasn’t enough to bring the authorities into the loop, especially after a similar on-campus incident of which the administration was aware had taken place in 1998?
“Innocent or not, this is just … it’s just bad,” Arrington said
Paterno will conduct his weekly teleconference with reporters Tuesday, although a release sent out Monday evening by the school stated “that primary focus of the teleconference is to answer questions related to Penn State’s Senior Day game with Nebraska this Saturday.” Yeah, good luck with that; Paterno will be peppered with questions about the scandal as he’s the face of the university.
And that’s another sad, sordid facet of this embarrassing mess: where is Graham Spanier? Why is an 84-year-old man the only face of a situation that’s tainted an entire institution? Where is Spanier’s leadership? Outside of an stomach-turning statement of unconditional support for Curley and another top school official after they were charged with perjury and failure to report abuse, Spanier has been unavailable, for all intents and purposes in hiding as he allows his head football coach to take the slings and arrows of the local and national media.
Leadership failed those eight victims through their inaction and active coverup — allegedly — nine years ago. Now, nearly a decade later, that same leadership is failing just as miserably. Failing the alumni, failing current students and faculty, failing the moral compass on which the university has prided itself all these years.
May no act of ours bring shame
To one heart that loves thy name,
May our lives but swell thy fame,
Dear old State, dear old State.
That’s the final stanza of the school’s alma mater. Thanks to Spanier and Curley and the like, an edit is in order.