Would it have been as huge a scandal? Would it have been a multi-month scandal, or just something mentioned in passing (relatively) on Sportscenter?
If they had followed the proper reporting, banned Sandusky, and had no contact with the charity and not allowed it to have anything to do with Penn State, it wouldn’t have been a Penn State scandal, and they would’ve been seen as doing the right thing. Even though charges weren’t filed at the time.
It would have gotten headlines, but the college would have been perceived as doing the right thing and the scandal would have faded away with only minor damage to its reputation. Joe Paterno’s reputation would have remained intact, too.
When did Sandusky stop being thought of as Paterno’s “heir apparent”?
Sandusky was fired by PSU around the spring of 1999 (at least, if I remember the indictment findings correctly). One of the victims testfied that Sandusky said he had been told at that time he wouldn’t succeed Joe Paterno.
Here we are.
Second paragraph on page 16.
It would’ve been a pretty huge scandal. There would have been just as much scrutiny as there eventually was, I think, given Sandusky’s long and celebrated tenure with Penn State and Paterno, and the long history of Sandusky’s activities with youth, on “who knew what when, and what did they do or not do about it”. The investigation would have hurt Penn State’s reputation and recruiting for the 1-2 years while it played out, or longer, and the football program in particular.
Think about how back in 2006 “Duke Lacrosse players” rapidly became a synonym for “drunken rapists” in the media, and stayed that way for about a year. It affected even ordinary Duke students going into town, and surely affected things like Alumni donations and the decision of incoming students to attend or not - not to mention the effect on what was then a championship caliber lacrosse team. Now imagine Penn State, a university largely identified and built upon the prestige of its football program since 1970… And they were acting on first hand eyewitness reports of Sandusky’s actions, as opposed to the Duke team’s insistent denials and ultimate exoneration. Much more was at stake for Penn State with its football team than at Duke with its lacrosse team.
Ultimately, by going to the police in 1998 Penn State and Paterno could probably have presented a credible front about being disappointed and shocked with their longtime associate and ultimately come out with this being viewed as a Sandusky scandal and Penn State just being where it happened, instead of being that AND a scandal about how Penn State officials kowtowed to Paterno, who in turn put the stability of the football program for a 1-3 year window (and possibly his personal friendship with Sandusky as well) ahead of justice for Sandusky’s past victims and potential future ones.
Seriously, their takedown on Sandusky was “you need help dude, now stay off campus from now on”? That’s reputation killing no matter when it comes out.
By 1998 Sandusky had already had a very long history with PSU, so yes, there would have been a lot of scrutiny. A lot of “how long has it really been going on?” type of questions. It would have looked bad for PSU even though there probably would have been some “they did the right thing” sentiment.
If they’d have taken serious action in '01 after the second known incident, they would have gotten hammered for not doing it earlier.
It would have looked bad, they did not cover it up because they liked Sandusky. Not anywhere near as bad as it looks now though.
It would have been a big story, but if there were no evidence the school and the football program covered for him, it would not have been nearly as big. And Penn State didn’t run the charity, so they could not have dismantled it- although exposure would have destroyed it anyway.
The amazing thing is that according to the Freeh report Paterno told Sandusky the reason he wouldn’t be the head coach was because he was spending too much time on his charity. Head coach at a major-conference U is a 100% full-time job.
That would have been admirable, on Sandusky’s part, if he was spending time on the charity in order to, like, do charity. But as we now know the reason he was so involved was to get a steady supply of victims.
ETA: Sandusky was not fired, he retired.