Underneath the Rug

By Eric Zanzucchi (@ericzanzucchi)

Some of the content from emails sent by Penn State President Graham Spanier, Athletic Director Tim Curley, and Vice President Gary Schultz from 2001 has been made public. It does show that they originally had intentions to report the incident witnessed by Mike McQueary to the “the chair of the charitable organization” and “the Department of Welfare”.

Chronologically, up to a certain point in the emails the reader is lead to believe that the school officials were planning to report the incident to the authorities. However late in February Curley wrote that, “After giving it more thought and talking it over with Joe yesterday, I am uncomfortable with what we agreed were the next steps.” The implication being that head coach Joe Paterno made a plea for leniency to school officials, although the exact content of their conversation is unknown. In a later email Schultz stated that “we can play it by ear” with regards to reporting the incident to welfare officials.

It’s obvious that the university officials handled the situation poorly. A lot of people have been outraged by the actions of these three men, and while it bothers me as well I still understand why they did it.

It’s just easier to ignore something.

If they had reported the suspected crime in 2001 there would have been cops and reporters swarming all over the campus. The football team was coming off of two straight losing seasons and some combination of Paterno, Spanier, Curley, and Schultz may have lost their jobs. I agree that they, in retrospect, took the worst possible course of action. It’s easy to say that in their situation you would never have done the same thing. But it’s easy to say, and hard to do.