Starkey: Capitalizing on Penn State
By Joe Starkey
Published: Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Healing process? Seems like more of a wheeling-and-dealing process.
Happy Valley has become the land of opportunity, or maybe just a land for opportunists in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal.
The recipe is simple: Put up your pulpit for a day, a week, a year, and advance your agenda. Flex your muscles. Pad your wallet. Win an election, even.
The wreckage site has become an auction site.
Look around …
• You have a sitting governor — a man whose role in the Sandusky procrastination, er, investigation was marked by serious questions — hypocritically pandering to the Penn State football faithful.
• You have a first-year football coach patting himself on the back for not being a “one-and-done guy” after appearing to parlay NFL interest into a $1.3 million “gift” from a prominent donor.
• And, of course, you had Mark Emmert, president of the laughable NCAA. He used the scandal to make himself and his toothless organization look powerful for a day, throwing a left hook at an already dazed-and-reeling program.
Tough guy, that Emmert.
But let's start with the coach, Bill O'Brien, who did an admirable job of keeping the program together amid severe NCAA sanctions and player defections.
Sadly, O'Brien grabbed the first opportunity to cash in on his 8-4 season. He interviewed for NFL jobs, then, like Emmert, played the false hero — after the salary sweetener was added.
“I'm not a one-and-done guy,” O'Brien told The (Harrisburg) Patriot-News. “I made a commitment to these players. … I'm not gonna cut and run after one year, that's for sure.”
Will you cut and run after two years?
And where were those words before the NFL dalliance began?
Oh well, I suppose O'Brien is just doing what college coaches do. But by stepping into the wreckage, he took on a massive responsibility. He is obligated to stick around for a while — in the form of a full commitment.
(Yes, I am accepting angry emails from Penn State fans who were ready to canonize O'Brien four weeks ago, vilify him four days ago and now canonize him again.)
As for Emmert and those NCAA sanctions, please. The NCAA couldn't run a lemonade stand let alone a serious investigation (it has no subpoena power), which is why it relied on the Freeh Report in lowering the boom on Penn State football.
It targeted the wrong people and went too far.
Somebody really should go after the NCAA, but the last person qualified for such a job is Gov. Tom Corbett. Not until somebody goes after him first, which is precisely what newly elected state attorney general Kathleen Kane has promised to do.
It's downright scary that people are defending Corbett in the wake of the unprecedented federal antitrust lawsuit he filed against the NCAA. Forget whether he even has legal standing to file such a suit — he might not — and consider that he initially supported the NCAA sanctions as “part of the corrective process.”
Corbett should be giving legitimate answers to the kinds of questions posed to shamed Penn State officials Graham Spanier and Tim Curley, not filing lawsuits.
• As attorney general, why did Corbett understaff the Sandusky investigation (with two narcotics agents, no less) that dragged on for 33 months while the predator roamed free? Did he fear that taking down a Penn State football legend — and perhaps damaging the program — would compromise his ability to defeat Penn State alumnus Dan Onorato in the race for governor?
• Why did Corbett approve a $3 million taxpayer grant to Sandusky's charity, the Second Mile, knowing Sandusky was under investigation for multiple sex crimes against children? Did it have something to do with the $640,000 in campaign contributions from Second Mile board members and affiliates to Corbett's attorney general and gubernatorial races?
At least Corbett didn't hesitate in filing the lawsuit.
Oh wait. He did. Asked why, he said he “didn't want to file during football season to take away from the team's momentum.”
Still protecting Penn State football?
Hey, it got him this far.
Joe Starkey co-hosts a show 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays on 93.7 “The Fan.” His columns appear Thursdays and Sundays. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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