Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Why The Penn State Scandal Will Not Go Away

The Penn State sexual predator scandal is not going to go away.
Not today. Not tomorrow. Not anytime soon.
Why? For one thing (and for better or worse) the scandal has all the ingredients of a Big Story: athletics, intrigue, kids, secrets, sex, famous persons and an extraordinarily well-known brand.
The media will stay on this. And they will keep uncovering information.
It's clear that one media outlet or more could have a chance to win a Pulitzer with this story. That's Big Time Stuff.
So, for now, the story will flourish not in the court of law (that will come later) but in the court of public opinion -- a loud, raucous, disorganized, combustible place where there are really no rules, where judgments are made (and changed) instantaneously and where pretty much anything goes.
That mesa that Penn State must be prepared for the l-o-n-g haul.
Here's an example: Today, the New York Times is out with a story that says back in July Joe Paterno transferred ownership of his house in State College to his wife, Sue for one dollar. The home is valued at at more than $594,000. They bought the home in 19699 for $58,000.
The Paternos' lawyer says the transfer was simply part of the Paternos' ongoing estate planning and had nothing to do with the scandal.
Some legal experts have theorized that Paterno could possibly be a target of civil legal actions as the scandal unfolds.
Paterno's lawyer says the former coach is looking forward to telling his side of the story in this whole matter somewhere "down the road."
Beyond the story of the home sale, there is this: The scandal will live on and everyone connected with it (or who might be connected with it, or might appear to be connected with it) in any way whatsoever will be under the microscope. Every aspect of the story is fair game. That's just the way it is.
Let's hope the university has a knowledgeable, talented, well-staffed crisis team on the job 24/7 for the foreseeable future. They're gonna need it.

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