Of all the figures in this sickening Penn State scandal, from head coach Joe Paterno and president Graham Spanier resigning in disgrace to athletic director Tim Curley facing charges, the most mind-boggling in the eyes of some is Mike McQueary.
The current wide receivers coach and, most importantly for the football program, its recruiting coordinator, McQueary testified in front of a grand jury in January that he witnessed former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky sodomizing a 10-year-old boy in the showers of the Lasch football building in 2002. The fact that McQueary, per his testimony, told Paterno what he witnessed is inconsequential to some; rather, there’s a singular question that keeps surfacing over and over and over again: why did McQueary do nothing in the moment to stop the alleged sexual assault of a kid?
The one and only person who can answer that question is McQueary himself. Since the scandal broke last week, however, McQueary has not spoken to the media, either face to face or via the kind of released statement that’s become the norm for the university. According to his father, McQueary wants to get his side of the story out. But, because of the ongoing investigation and his central role in it, he’s simply not able to at this time.
“It’s not that he’s not willing,” John McQueary, his father, told the New York Times. “I think it’s eating him up not to be able to tell his side, but he’s under investigation by the grand jury. He’ll make it. He’s a tough kid.”
There has been speculation that McQueary will not coach this weekend, sitting out the Nittany Lions’ 2011 home finale against Nebraska because of the furor. That doesn’t mean, though, that he’s not still doing his job. A letter sent by McQueary to a potential recruit has surfaced recently, offering an ironic and sad twist to such an abhorrent situation.
“Penn State is 1 of 2 Division 1 institutions who have never been investigated or sanctioned for major NCAA infractions,” a portion of the letter from McQueary, printed in bold type, read. “Think about this as you make your college decision. Coach Paterno’s saying ‘Success with Honor’ has value here. It’s not something we take lightly.”
McQueary was a 28-year-old man — not some pimply-faced teenager as some have attempted to portray him — when he allegedly witnessed a 50-something man subjecting a kid less than half his age to anal rape. The fact that he didn’t do anything to stop the sexual assault from continuing is unconscionable. The fact that he’s still on the staff in the wake of everything that’s transpired is a mockery, but par for the course for a university that systematically covered up the acts of an alleged pedophile and, due to that cover-up, permitted countless victims to come into contact with the predator.
“”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,” McQueary’s former teammate, LaVar Arrington, said on his radio show this week. “If you’re an adult and you are violating a child, all reputations, all everything, all that goes out the door.”
Much like success, you can have failure with some modicum of honor. McQueary can live up to the twist on his coach’s saying by stepping down. Now.