Already expected to “very tough” on the legacy of Joe Paterno, the report from Penn State’s independent investigation into the Jerry Sandusky scandal could prove to be much, much more damaging than that.
In email exchanges obtained by CNN between Vicky Triponey, then vice president of student affairs in charge of disciplining students, and then-athletic director Tim Curley and ex-president Graham Spanier, Triponey laments the culture surrounding the Nittany Lions football program, questioning why Paterno would be permitted to keep serious violations of the school’s code of conduct private “despite any moral or legal obligation to” make it public.
In a subsequent e-mail to then-Penn State President Graham Spanier she is more blunt: “I am very troubled by the manipulative, disrespectful, uncivil and abusive behavior of our football coach,” she writes.
In the same e-mail, she calls Paterno’s behavior “atrocious” and said others are mimicking his behavior. “It is quite shocking what this man — who is idolized by people everywhere — is teaching our students…” she writes.
The emails also suggest that, after Triponey had attempted to discipline PSU football players outside of Paterno’s preferred methods, she was harassed and it was ultimately suggested she leave her post.
After Triponey tried to discipline football players in the same manner as other students, she was harassed both online and at her home, according to a source with knowledge of the investigation. On her front lawn somebody put up a “for sale” sign. Police installed a surveillance camera. In the end, the source says Spanier suggested she think about her future at Penn State, and she resigned.
The full report, which will come from the group headed by former FBI director Louis Freeh, is expected to be released in short order, perhaps as early as this week. Based on the reports that have surfaced in recent weeks, it appears very likely that the legacy Paterno spent more than five decades constructing will be in tatters.
That, though, pales in comparison to the hell Sandusky’s victims were forced to endure. And how a handful of the most powerful men at a university were (allegedly) actively involved in a systematic coverup of a convicted serial pedophile.