When Good Men Do Nothing
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”–Edmund Burke, Irish orator, philosopher, and politician.
If there ever was a situation where the 18th century philosopher’s famous quotation applied, it is certainly the sordid tale that came out of Happy Valley at the end of last week. Like many in the nation, I was shocked and heartbroken to hear the sexual abuse accusations against Penn State’s former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, and the allegations made that the athletic director, Tim Curley, and the vice president for finance and business, Gary Schultz, may have participated in covering for Sandusky, and lying to a grand jury.
For nearly 14 years, I was a member of the administration at Penn State, as an employee of the Office of Residence Life. For part of that time–my first three years–I was the live-in residence life coordinator for Nittany Apartments, the on-campus apartment complex that houses many of the upperclassman on the Nittany Lions football team. In this capacity, I had the opportunity to interact with athletes, members of the athletic staff, university police, and colleagues from across the University. So this week has been somewhat surreal for me, as I read the news about people I've met, and familiar places on campus and in the community that I called home for almost a generation.
To say that the men involved in this scenario were well-respected is an understatement. Jerry Sandusky, the man at the center of this firestorm, was once lauded as the heir apparent to legendary coach Joe Paterno, and has been celebrated in the community as a champion for underprivileged boys, as the founder and lead fundraiser for his charity, the Second Mile.
Tim Curley, as athletic director for a Division I sports program, has weathered many storms in the past, and like many athletic directors, he is liked and respected by some, and reviled and ridiculed by others. Gary Schultz was a long-serving and admired member of the community, and has been referred to in the press as a man with strong family values. Penn State even named a new child care center after him. On different occasions, I heard both these men speak about the accomplishments of their programs, and my impressions of both men were that they were likable, good people, with serious levels of commitment toward improving their departments and maintaining the high standards of integrity, pride, and respect that many associate with the Pennsylvania State University. In fact, until I read the news the other day, I had never heard anyone say anything bad about Gary Schultz–ever.Continued on the next page