This year, Penn State’s football team paid a suitably steep price for the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal. An investigation by former FBI director Louis Freeh concluded that among the “cause[s] for this failure to protect child victims and report to authorities” — a negligent board of directors, failure to comply with federal crime reporting laws, a “striking lack of empathy” — was “a culture of reverence for the football program that is ingrained at all levels of the campus community.” As a result, in July the NCAA fined Penn State $60 million. A statue of former coach Joe Paterno, who died in January, was removed from the front of Beaver Stadium. In June, Sandusky was convicted of 45 counts of child sexual abuse, and will spend the rest of his life in prison.
A rare bright spot for Penn State: despite the crippling sanctions, only nine football players left the school. Under new coach Bill O’Brien, the former offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots, Penn State has been competitive: the Nittany Lions finished 6-2 in the Big 10.