Sunday, November 13, 2011

Yes, here's a Penn State-related entry

I've hesitated even approaching the subject because seemingly everything that could be intelligently said or written, plus a burgeoning load of self-serving sanctimonious BS, about the Penn State situation has been offered.

But there's still seems to be an angle worth exploring.

That is, what role did the coaching omerta play -- if any -- in football assistant Mike McQueary not going further in reporting the rape he witnessed (which is wholly different from the more critical question asking why McQueary failed to intervene in a rape in progress?)

The same self-censorship applies against Head Coach Joe Paterno with what McQueary told him?

There's the blue code of silence for police officers in which misbehavior, large or small, is NOT to be reported, or accurately explained. Ostracization, or worse, will result (see Frank Serpico's tragic story). It's the same for the military, corporations, heck, even some families, too.

Plus, coaches also, although this generally is associated with recruiting violations by fellow coaches.

I've had more than one coach unequivocally state he would not report wrongdoing by a fellow (opposing) coach, despite feeling disdain for the actions.

Veering a bit away from the subject but still applicable, an additional factor is that assistants are expected to fall upon their respective swords -- form a protective wall and take any blame -- once a head coach is accused of wrongdoing. The beyond disgusting saga of Dave Bliss' tenure at Southern Methodist is living proof with the situation of Assistant Coach Abar Rouse is telling. From Wikipedia:  
On August 16, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that Bliss told players to lie to investigators by indicating that Patrick Dennehy had paid for his tuition by dealing drugs. These conversations were taped on microcassette by assistant coach Abar Rouse from July 30 to August 1. On the tapes, Bliss was heard instructing players to fabricate the story of Dennehy being a drug dealer to the University's investigative committee and also said that talking to the McLennan County, Texas Sheriff's Department would give him the opportunity to "practice" his story. The tapes also showed that Bliss and his staff knew that Dennehy had been threatened by two of their teammates when they publicly denied such knowledge.
Rouse taped the conversations after Bliss threatened to fire him if he did not go along with the scheme.[3]

The revelations shocked the school and the college basketball community. However, despite the potential allegations of extortion, obstruction of justice and witness tampering, no criminal charges were filed against Bliss.

After Baylor, Rouse worked as a graduate assistant coach at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas. He left the position in October 2007. Rouse has not had another basketball job since leaving Midwestern State University, and has said that he "has been blackballed, labeled a snitch and a turncoat" for taping Bliss' statements.[4] Despite the near-universal revulsion at Bliss' actions, many leading members of the college basketball coaching fraternity considered Rouse's recordings a serious breach of trust (for example, Mike Krzyzewski said that if he ever found out one of his assistants had been secretly taping him, "there's no way he would be on my staff"[4]). Rouse sued his attorney in 2005 for releasing the tapes, claiming that it breached the attorney-client privilege; the suit is still pending.[4]} Rouse's attorney claims she did not know how the tapes got transcribed, but the journalist who published them said he got it from her.[4] Jeff Ray, the Midwestern coach who hired Rouse, commented: "I'm right in the middle of it, don't get me wrong. But sometimes the things you see are pretty disgusting. Why is there this black cloud hanging over him? He did nothing wrong. To me, this is all a testimony to the sad state of affairs of our profession."
Without tapes, Rouse's side of the story would have fallen into the he said/she said abyss and been dismissed.

Does such a fraternal bond in coaching also apply to knowledge of other unethical or even criminal behavior?

Does reporting such depend on the degree of harm done?

Does the fear of banishment from the coaching ranks play a role in the expected implementation of an iron curtain?


Yes, so much more still needs to be known about the Penn State situation

Such as:

Penn State athletics is a million dollar business. HR departments typically inform new hires, or refresh the memories of all employees from time to time that being asked by a superior or even fellow employee to commit an illegal act, either by commission or omission, or witnessing such must be reported, with implicit promises that no negative repercussions will result by doing so.

McQueary informed his boss.

Is there the expectation that he should have gone around Paterno or further than Paterno -- a flesh-and-blood god in State College, PA -- once it was apparent that either Paterno or his superiors were not going to take appropriate action.

It's worth asking if you or I would have the fortitude to go beyond Joe Paterno if we witnessed what McQueary did? It's easy to get righteous  from our position in the stands but it's important to remember the history of whistleblowers is not a pretty, let alone a rewarding one.

Regarding the 84-year-old Paterno's lack of followup, was there a generational element at play since generally society failed to take sexual abuse seriously until the last couple of decades? Or was it more Paterno's long friendship with accused predator Jerry Sandusky?

It will be critical to determine what Paterno wanted to have take place once he talked to his athletic director because anyone who becomes a living institution can face the dilemma of having too much to lose by having his or her name attached to any sort of vile actions, committed by himself or those on his/her staff.

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