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The Morning Linephoto by Keith Sturch Mark Lamberth I have never been much of a fan of Penn State Football unless they were playing Notre Dame or Texas. It always came across as a little arrogant with a “holier than thou” attitude. I did give the program credit as it seemed to operate in a straight forward and no nonsense manner. But, in the end, I always felt that “Joe Pa” held on too long to his job and was more interested in his career win total than what was good for the football program. With the above being said, I was saddened by the shocking revelations that have emerged from the program in the last few weeks. Inappropriate conduct has apparently been taking place at Penn State since the late 90s and a number of school officials were aware of it and took no action. As former Oklahoma Sooner and Dallas Cowboy Head Coach Barry Switzer said, the misconduct had to be known by practically everyone on the athletic staff. To be sure, these were not recruiting violations or some other minor infraction. These are criminal acts carried out by a person in authority against innocent and defenseless children. When the reputation of a college football program supersedes the moral compass of administrators entrusted with the care of hundreds of kids; then it’s time for a complete re-examination of the role of sports in college and universities. As

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Penn State the story unfolded, Paterno tried to limit its impact by announcing he was stepping down at the end of the season. The arrogance of that action, designed to vacate any decision the Board of Trustees at Penn State might make, was key in sealing Paternos’s fate. When any one person in an institution reaches a level in which he holds the belief that he controls an entire public university – they must be not only reprimanded but terminated immediately. Too many colleges and universities have allowed themselves to be defined by their sports program. With that in mind, schools that pay coaches millions of dollars should be held accountable for their employee’s actions. This was not only a failure by a few individuals or an institution – it was a failure of the entire system. What is the true role of these institutions of higher learning in the role of molding our children and ultimately the citizens of our nation? Unfortunately, money has become the major criteria by which decisions are made by college administrators in the big business of college athletics. Just as many people believe money has corrupted our political process in Washington, the same could be said of college sports. To the credit of the Board of Trustees at Penn State, they fired Head Coach Joe Paterno (after the pressure was turned up by several groups including the U. S. Department of Education) and have begun the healing process for the entire Happy Valley, Pa. community. It was painful but the right thing to do. A number of questions remain and need to be resolved and guilty parties brought to justice in the Penn State case. A larger and equally important question needs to be addressed – have college administrators lost control of athletic departments with their budgets in the hundreds of millions of dollars? In the case of Penn State; the disappointing answer is yes. N

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Eye On Independence December 2011  

December 2011 issue of Eye On Independence