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ESPN’s Jay Bilas: The Penn State Scandal Has Been A “Conspiracy Of Cowards”


Legendary Penn State coach Joe Paterno announced his retirement this morning, effective at the end of this season. For some, his resignation, and the apologetic statement that was packaged with it, was enough.

For others, the fact that Paterno, the most powerful man on Penn State’s campus (and one of the most powerful men in central Pennsylvania), failed to contact police after being presented with an eyewitness account of one of his assistants sexually abusing a young boy in a shower means that “end of season” is not soon enough.

Count ESPN analyst Jay Bilas among that second group of people. Bristol’s lawyerly voice of reason had a spot on SportsCenter earlier today, in which he presented a very clear, very concise point of view on the Penn State scandal. In short: Paterno shouldn’t coach this weekend against Nebraska (or ever again), and this whole mess in general has been “a conspiracy of cowards.”

One of the worst things about this is the fact that Penn State officials knew of the accusations against Sandusky (since 1998, actually), and forbade him from bringing kids on campus. Which basically says, “We know there’s strong evidence you’re molesting kids, but if you’re going to do it, don’t do it here.” The sheer lunacy of this is also something Bilas discussed.

These are all slam dunk talking points, because the issue is so black and white. I get that. Still, no one on TV has quite been able to articulately describe just how bad this debacle is (Matt Millen cried while he tried to wrap his head around it) until now.


  • Guglio

    You are correct, of course, but you are putting it very, very mildly.

  • Hhong84060

    Could not agree more. What has happened here happened because football was held above the welfare of children. The punishment should be the termination of Penn State football. Let Joe Pa finish the season and his players a free pass to play elsewhere with Penn state paining for scholarships at schools they move to. Take away from this institution what they held so high .

  • Anonymous

    If I’m a 28 year old graduate assistant coach and I see an old guy (I don’t care what his job is) raping a 10 year old in the locker room showers  how do I live with myself if I don’t try to at least stop it? And when I mean try to stop it I mean trying as best I can to kill the old guy with my bear hands while telling the 10 year old to run away as fast as he can.   How do I live with myself if I’m a person who hears the 1st hand witness account of that very rape if I don’t call the police immediately while the witness is still in my presences?  How does the school get away with just not letting him bring little kids on campus. What! …. At first I didn’t think Joe was part of the silence but I guess the whole school was.  I’m a season ticket holder at an ACC school. If the same thing that happened at Penn State happen at my school I would not go to another game and I would stop buying season tickets. I would not associate with a school that would not act in the highest urgency to stop it.  Maybe after a few years and everyone that knew something and didn’t act were gone I “might come back but it would be very hard.  To know that people who know better are this cowardly is shameful in the worst possible way.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KV5EBLOVM22JKXFKSXA7ECM4SA Dugan Fry

    When will we FINALLY hear from the NCAA on  the MORAL dilemma facing the THEM now? Will the NCAA do the right thing and start an investigation on Penn State on a KNOWN child molesting coach for 15 years or will they turn a blind eye and operate in the past worrying about some athlete who took improper benefits like a pizza, tattoos, or pair of tennis shoes? If they play the “this doesn’t fall under the NCAA guidelines” BS, then they’re as guilty as Paterno where they claim it’s outside “legal” NCAA jurisdiction but abandons the “moral” aspects of ignoring an active coach at the time raping and have sex with little children.

    If molesting little children doesn’t fall within “lack of institutional control”, then the NCAA is morally bankrupt and pathetic!

    The NCAA will be our next group in the “Conspiracy of Cowards”! Are you hearing their silence???

  • coffeedrinker

    This is a total outrage and I am not even a football fan. Thank you for your article and I hope we can all stand together for justice for the victims. I feel heartsick for them and their families. 

  • Educatedignorance

    I could not agree more.  The NCAA seems to be only interested in “preserving amateurism” and punishing poor athletes for receiving meals, tattoos, and baubles but seemingly not interested in a member institution providing safe havens for child molesters and rapists.  Lack of institutional control must only apply when the NCAA sees someone getting paid other than them, but an institution is well in control when someone sees a child being abused in an athletic facility overseen by the NCAA and it continues to occur, well that institution is working like a well oiled machine according to the NCAA’s  silence.  

  • Raaaasaz

    The whole administration needs to be fired. I can’t even believe they are going to let this interim coach on the field. He’s been involved with this whole cover up for the past years. Penn State is a joke. Where the hell is the NCAA?!?

  • karma

    Nooo!! Joe Pa was rightfully terminated. He did nothing to further help the victim when McQeary told him about.  And McQeary is just as equally to blame. Penn State was dead wrong for being silent for so many years, but thank God the board finally got it right and fired that heartless, conceited, son of a bitch. There should be no pity for him at all!!! The pity goes to the innocent children not the rich old coach who tried to quietly retire as if he was innocent himself. Priorities people!!!

  • JoeL

    For rioting Penn State Students, perhaps when your heads clear, consideration of this moral premise is in order:
     ”Adults should always do EVERYTHING in their power to protect children from pedophiles”
     IMO, while Joe Paterno may escape any legal consequence, he has clearly failed the test for being a good and honorable leader.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NXVHOJCQFWDDT3L5CX4DIHNOV4 Cathy

    I hope the victims sue the crap out of the school because they are horribly at fault here.  The acts and the cover up are sickening and horrific against these children.  Make these scumbag criminals at Penn State accountable.  The investigation of the prosecutor’s disappearance needs to be reopened.

  • Outraged and filled with RAGE

    As a Pennsylvanian I am ashamed and outraged.  The Board of Trustees is as guilty as anyone in this.  There are people on the current board who had to know about Sandusky and did NOTHING.  In fact there are a couple former players on the board.  The PA Attorney General needs to take over the University and clean the whole Board out and start over.  Cancel the football program for a couple years – that’s sends the right message.  That they’re even playing today is unbelievable to me.  The players should step up and say they forfeit the rest of the season in honor of the CHILD victims in the mess.

    Mr. Bilas lead the national media and keep the heat cranked up and the spotlight on.  Expose all the pompous, arrogant, money grubbing COWARDS in the suits in Spanier’s luxury ex-presdential suite for the hypocrites they truly are.  Once Sandusky is found guilty (and he will be) maybe he can be hung from JoePA’s statue!

    We were Penn State! 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_S3S2ZPQRR3XOABOMKB7BBRV62M THINK

    JOE PA for LIFE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    The coach told the police and JOE PA didn’t need to do more anymore. HE aint a Rat, Snitch or a B*tch.

    JOE PA IS GOD!!!!!

  • Bill

    I want to hear Jay Bilas have the same passion when he criticized the cowards at ESPN after they held an audio tape confirming abuse for years! SPEAK UP JAY – DON’t BE A COWARD NOW!

  • Anonymous

    Two days later and still no word on this topic from Mr. Bilas.  The silence is interesting.  It appears he doesn’t have the backbone to express his opinions about this situation.

  • Kilcardy

    What a bunch of sanctimonius bullcrap! You so called “sports commentators” crack me up. A bunch of cackling hens who wouldn’t know a fact from a fart. Not only are you ESPN hens incompetent, you’re a bunch of hypocrites. Why don’t you speak up Jay? What about the cowards at ESPN who held onto a tape with Fine’s wife confirming Bernie Fine’s abuse FOR 10 YEARS!! How many cases of abuse is ESPN responsible for as a result of its staying quiet for 10 years? Where are you Jay?? You hypocrites are sickening. You destroy a man’s career and reputation at will with no factual basis for doing so — all on supposition and innuendo premised on a one-sided grand jury presentment — all to make a buck. What a disgrace.

  • http://www.facebook.com/GarthKlaus Scott E Phillips

    So, a bit of time has passed… we know know that McQueary never told Paterno of sexual abuse and that the ‘victim’ of that incident says there was no abuse. And Bilas just yesterday wants to stick by his guns and claim Paterno didn’t do enough. Seems pretty silly to me.

    This article, complete with video highlights, is based on incorrect information. Will Bilas and ESPN still cling to their ‘kangaroo court’ testimony or will they ever man up and admit they screwed up on this one?


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