Former FBI director Louis Freeh learned something during his Penn State University investigation that many, including me, have known for a long time.
People who inhabit the university environment fear athletic departments.
Freeh led the independent investigation into the Penn State cover-up of Coach Jerry Sandusky’s crimes against children.
He offered the best explanation for why it happened: fear.
I doubt anyone will listen to Freeh’s truth.
Instead, a debate rages as to whether the National Collegiate Athletic Association should give Penn State the “Death Penalty,” meaning no appearances in bowl games and huge cuts in scholarships, so that Penn State “can move on.”
So Penn State can move on?
What happened to Penn State that was bad? High-ranking university officials who covered up heinous crimes and a revered football coach who conspired with them to do it got fired.
That’s a good thing.
How about helping the victims and their families by letting Penn State play in high-dollar bowl games and giving the money to them?
Yes, in the end, it is all about money.
And big-time and even some smaller-time collegiate athletic programs need oodles of it and make plenty of it for others.
And as the NCAA wheels and deals for more profit from bowl games, TV contracts, licensing agreements and the like, who has oversight for the NCAA?
Essentially, no one.
And what about other crimes that occur on college campuses?
For years, universities have hid behind something called the “Buckley Amendment” — better known as the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act, FERPA — to handle these incidents “internally.”
The fear Freeh talks about is real and systemic.
On a college campus, if you buck athletics, you become a marked man or woman. You are dismissed as a whiner or a complainer. You get lip service and false promises.
That fear is not new problem, Mr. Freeh, only a growing one.