It takes a lot of effort, and thick skin, to read the 162-page report by former FBI director Louis Freeh on the Penn State scandal. When it’s finished, so is the reputation of the late football coach Joe Paterno.
Freeh describes a miasma of deception surrounding Paterno’s pedophile assistant, Jerry Sandusky, who was convicted of 45 counts of sexual abuse. Paterno knew about Sandusky’s behavior as early as 2001 but covered it up.
Now, Penn State must act on the report’s call for greater oversight of its sports teams. The hardest change will be upending a culture that over-emphasizes “the Penn State way,” a devout adherence to sports, and loyalty among players and coaches. Never again should a university place its “heroes” above its educational mission.
Paterno didn’t live to see Freeh’s report, but other senior Penn State officials may face legal consequences because of it — and with good reason. The university can and should take down its statue of Paterno, but it will be much harder to get rid of the suffering his cult left behind.