Open Secrets

By Bissinger, Buzz | Newsweek, November 21, 2011 | Go to article overview

Open Secrets


Bissinger, Buzz, Newsweek


Byline: Buzz Bissinger; Buzz Bissinger Is The Sports Columnist For The Daily Beast And A Writer For Vanity Fair.

It isn't just Penn State. College sports are a mess. It's time to sideline them.

Barry Switzer never had a reputation for candor when he was the head football coach at Oklahoma University. But he knows the environment of a football coaching staff. Does he buy the explanation that none of the football coaches at Penn State knew that Jerry Sandusky, a former assistant now charged with 40 counts of serial sex abuse with minors, was an alleged sexual predator long before his Nov. 5 arrest?

"Having been in this profession a long time and knowing how close coaching staffs are, I knew that this was a secret that was kept secret," Switzer told The Daily Oklahoman with blunt honesty. "Everyone on that staff had to have known, the ones that had been around a long time."

We already know that recently fired Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno did have some awareness in 2002 of a beyond-disturbing incident involving a naked Sandusky and a naked 10-year-old boy in the showers of the Penn State football facility that according to the state grand-jury report was outright rape. We also know that Paterno did not go to the police.

What has not been established is how long Paterno and his coaches may have known about Sandusky's conduct. He was first investigated for child abuse in 1998 when he showered with a minor and apparently admitted he may have fondled the alleged victim. A report was filed by the Penn State police. Is it credible that Paterno and others knew nothing of the 1998 incident? Not even close.

The Penn State travesty is just the latest in a litany of significant scandals at major college football and basketball programs--Ohio State (illegal benefits to players), the University of Southern California (stripped of a 2004 national championship because of illegal benefits), and the University of Tennessee (unethical recruiting tactics), to name just a few.

There must be changes to control the monster that college sports have become. The most radical idea, outlined in a series of recent articles by George Dohrmann in Sports Illustrated, is to have universities spin football and basketball programs into a separate entity, what Dorhmann calls "Football Inc. …

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