Penn State making progress, but two personnel moves still remain
Joe Paterno, Graham Spanier were fired; Mike McQueary, Tim Curley should be
It boils down to this: McQueary witnessed a young boy being raped and ran away
Whistleblower law might explain why McQueary has job, but it's not good enough
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- The letter boasted, but any college football program that could make such a claim would be expected to shout it from the rooftops. Such information would be very important to the recruit to whom the letter was addressed.
"Penn State is 1 of 2 Division I institutions who have never been investigated or sanctioned for any major NCAA infractions," said the letter, obtained and revealed on Twitter by ESPN.com Michigan recruiting editor Tom VanHaaren. "Think about this as you make your college decision. Coach Paterno's saying 'Success with Honor' has value here."
The author ended with "Think Penn State," and then he signed the letter.
As in Mike McQueary, the redheaded former Penn State quarterback who led the Nittany Lions to the Citrus Bowl as a senior in 1997. As in Mike McQueary, the current wide receivers coach/ace recruiter. As in Mike McQueary, the graduate assistant who saw something he wasn't supposed to see in 2002.
As in Mike McQueary, the guy who still has a job. Interim coach Tom Bradley said on Thursday afternoon that McQueary would coach on Saturday when the Nittany Lions face Nebraska. Thursday night, Penn State announced that McQueary would not coach Saturday because of threats against him.
That McQueary remains on the staff is shocking. Penn State fired legendary coach Joe Paterno and president Graham Spanier on Wednesday for their failure to follow up on a 2002 report from a subordinate that former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky had molested a 10-year-old boy in a shower in Penn State's football building. That report came from McQueary, who told a grand jury earlier this year that he saw everything.
In fact, it was McQueary's testimony that ensnared the other person who still stunningly appears on Penn State's employment rolls. Athletic director Tim Curley is on administrative leave while he fights a perjury charge. This may be semantics to avoid a lawsuit and a prelude to a firing. But the point is Curley is still officially employed by a hemorrhaging university even though he allegedly helped cover up child molestation and then allegedly lied about it to a grand jury. Curley maintains his innocence, but the 23-page grand jury presentment paints Curley in a harsh light. The other school official charged with perjury, vice president Gary Schultz, has retired.
Penn State's Board of Trustees made the correct decision in firing Paterno and Spanier for their roles in this case. But if Paterno and Spanier had to go, so do McQueary and Curley. They all share in the blame for failing to contact the police to start an investigation that might have caught Sandusky before, as several young people alleged to the grand jury, he struck again. Trustees should not allow either man to remain on the books another day.
McQueary's situation is the most curious. The next paragraph comes directly from the grand jury presentment, which was prepared using McQueary's under-oath testimony. Be warned; the account is graphic.
"As the graduate assistant entered the locker doors, he was surprised to find the lights and showers on. He then heard, rhythmic, slapping sounds. He believed the sounds to be those of sexual activity. As the graduate assistant put his sneakers into his locker, he looked into the shower. He saw a naked boy, Victim 2, whose age he estimated to be 10 years old, with his hands up against the wall, being subjected to anal intercourse by a naked Sandusky. The graduate assistant was shocked but noticed that Victim 2 and Sandusky saw him. The graduate assistant left immediately, distraught."
In other words, McQueary told the grand jury he saw a boy being raped, and he ran away. McQueary told the grand jury that he next told his father, who told McQueary to report what he saw to Paterno. McQueary made his report at Paterno's home.
What happened next has been parsed endlessly this week. Bottom line, nothing happened. No one followed up. No one tried to identify the boy.
McQueary's handling of the situation has prompted outrage, and with good reason. He was a graduate assistant, a low man on Penn State's totem pole, but he was 28 years old. What kind of human being would watch a boy being raped and do nothing to stop it? A scared one, sure. Sandusky was a pillar of the Penn State football community. But human decency should trump loyalty to a football program or to a coach. And how could McQueary stand the sight of Sandusky, a frequent visitor to the football complex for years who was spotted there as recently as last week?
There are a few possible explanations for why McQueary remains employed. As the Penn State football employee who was the most forthcoming to the grand jury, he could present a different kind of PR nightmare for the university if fired. If McQueary got canned and decided to spill his guts to the media, who knows what revelations might pour forth? An already nasty situation could get even nastier.
The other possibility is that McQueary's job is protected by Pennsylvania's Whistleblower Law, which prohibits public employees from having their jobs threatened following a "good-faith report" of wrongdoing. McQueary did go to his supervisor, after all. Asked if the Whistleblower Law was the reason for McQueary's continued employment, Penn State spokesman Jeff Nelson said "I honestly can't answer that question."
Meanwhile, Curley's continued employment can only be explained by a fear of a lawsuit from a man who might say he was fired for being accused of a crime. It was Curley who told the grand jury McQueary told him that he saw Sandusky "horsing around" with the boy. According to the presentment, McQueary told the grand jury that he told Curley he had seen what he believed to be anal sex. The grand jury believed McQueary.
McQueary has remained silent. His father, citing the ongoing investigation, has stayed quiet. A lot of people want to know how McQueary could simply leave the locker room. That includes the mother of one of Sandusky's alleged victims. "I don't even have words to talk about the betrayal that I feel," the mother of Victim Six told the Harrisburg Patriot-News this week. "[McQueary] was a grown man, and he saw a boy being sodomized ... He ran and called his daddy?"
Inaction cost Paterno and Spanier their jobs, yet McQueary still draws a check from Penn State. Meanwhile, Curley remains officially employed as he prepares to face a perjury charge.
This situation has exposed Penn State to a ton of lawsuits already. What's the harm in a couple more?
If the school's Board of Trustees truly wants to clean house, it needs to make two more personnel moves.