As united as the Penn State community stands, you still have to shake your head to the ones who let them down. Of course, the one who deserves the most blame would be Sandusky, but as revealed in the media last spring, many people in authority at Penn State were responsible in attempting to cover up the scandal. Because of this, Penn State will be paying for this for many years. According to CBS Sports, the school has already paid $16.8 million for legal fees which included lawyers and consultants. But that’s not even the worst of it, as the school will be facing many lawsuits from the sexually abused victims.
Though the football program did not receive the “death penalty” in which they would have to sit out for a year, they will still be facing severe punishment that will greatly hinder the program. NCAA slapped on a $60 million fine to the football program, reduced the amount of football scholarships and put the team on a four year probation from the Big Ten Championship. Since investigators found evidence that head football coach Joe Paterno persuaded university officials not to report any of the rapes to outside law enforcement, he was fired. His statue in front of the football stadium was torn down this summer and according to ESPN his wins from 1998 to 2011 were vacated, resulting in his 409 wins dropping to 298.
This whole scandal has turned Penn State upside down, but who is Penn State? It’s easy to think of the menacing face of Sandusky and not feel bad one bit. It’s even easy to think of Paterno and the greed that clouded his moral responsibilities. But Penn State is not just comprised of Sandusky, Paterno and other school officials who made a huge mistake. Penn State is the sophomore studying pre-med in the library until two in the morning. Penn State is the basketball player from New Jersey whose athletic full ride is what made college possible. Penn State is the kid from Bellefonte who attended every Penn State football game with his dad growing up. Penn State is the painting and drawing professor who never attended a football game in her life.
It makes you wonder if the right people are being punished. Not only were the 1998 to 2011 wins taken away from Paterno, but also from over two decades of Penn State football players. Their hard work and dedication to the team has been erased by the NCAA. Adam Taliaferro, a former Nittany Lion, suffered a spinal cord injury during a game in 2000. After hearing about the vacated wins, he expressed his dismay in a tweet, “NCAA says games didn’t exist. I got the metal plate in my neck to prove it did… I almost died playing 4 PSU…punishment or healing?!? #WeAre.” There will be hundreds of other players whose history of Penn State football will have vanished. Sandusky will rot in prison for what he did. The late Paterno will have his reputation tarnished. Some school officials will struggle to find new jobs after being fired for the part they played in trying to cover this up. But the small people, like the students, professors, staff and outside community are left to pick up the pieces and keep hope afloat at Penn State University.