It isn’t very often when a sports controversy attracts the attention of an entire nation, but the child sex abuse scandal revolving around former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky has done just that.
Earlier this year Sandusky was convicted of 45 counts of sexual assault on ten adolescent boys over a span of 15 years and this week former FBI agent Louis Freeh released the findings of an independent investigation into the alleged cover up of the crimes. Freeh concluded that the leaders at Penn State-including late head coach Joe Paterno-were aware of Sandusky’s abuse and that “the most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized.”
The revelation that the leaders of a collegiate football program became powerful enough and selfish enough to subject children to sexual abuse for over 15 years has sent shockwaves from Happy Valley, PA all throughout the nation and into the minds of Montgomery County high school head football coaches.
“It is an absolute tragedy that such actions took place up there and were connected or in some way connected to the football program,” said Gaithersburg head coach Kreg Kephart. “I don’t think it speaks poorly just of the Penn State football program, but of all big time college sports programs everywhere.”
Good Counsel head coach Bob Milloy, who has been coaching for over 50 years echoed those sorrows.
“It is a really delicate situation and I don’t know enough to accuse anyone in particular,” he said. “I just wish to heck that it didn’t happen.”
Every high school football coach is somewhat emotionally invested in this tragedy do their association with and passion for youth football. But for Milloy and Kephart the matter is more personal since both coaches have former players on the Penn State roster.
Milloy said that he has not talked directly with former Falcon and current Penn State cornerback Mike Wallace about Sandusky’s charges, but that Wallace was staying in school to get his degree and play for the team this fall.
Sean Stanley, a former Gaithersburg Trojan and projected starter at defensive end in 2012 for the Nittany Lions, played under Kephart from 2005 to 2008. Because of his connection to his former player, Kephart is upset with the national media members who are advocating for the Penn State football program to be shut down for an extended period of time in the aftermath of the Freeh report.
“Here’s a kid [Stanley] who’s all excited, he’s got a shot at the NFL, he’s getting ready for his senior year and you’ve got people calling for the dismissal of the program. What does that do to Sean?” Kephart asked. “Granted what happened to those young children is certainly a tragic matter, but you cannot compound that by creating hardships for young men that were not involved in that matter.”
Kephart has a point, since, as he pointed out, there are no coaches left on the Penn State staff that had any connection to Jerry Sandusky.
Regardless of what happens to the future of the Penn State football program, what has occurred to the children abused by Sandusky is a horrific travesty, but the courage of those children to come forward was an admirable act that should help potential victims in the future. The warranted concern that the American public expressed over this situation and the conclusion of the Freeh report should, Milloy and others hope, create willingness for change that will prevent similar crimes from occurring in the future
“In the long run [the findings of the Freeh report] may be a good thing because they’re will be some policies put into place to ensure that this sort of thing won’t happen again,” said Milloy. “It won’t ever happen again I can promise you that.”
Link to Freeh report: http://thefreehreportonpsu.com/
By Aaron Kasinitz