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Jerry Fisher: ESPN Did Not Do Enough

by on December 12, 2011 9:28 AM

The Jerry Sandusky situation has hit home for many of us with Penn State ties, and the ramifications of his alleged actions will be felt throughout the Penn State community for years to come.

Now with the revelation of Syracuse assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine and his alleged molestation of young boys coming to light, there are questions that have been troubling me.

ESPN's Mike and Mike in the Morning and Colin Cowherd, along with some local radio hosts, started calling for Joe Paterno to be removed from his position as the head coach of the Nittany Lions football team for not doing enough when he was told about the alleged 2002 incident by then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary.

The details of Joe's actions have been debated and will continue to be for a long time. But some of the details of the Bernie Fine case have shown that ESPN had in its possession for 10 years audio tapes of Fine's wife and his accuser that were recorded by the accuser.

This is the same ESPN that was ready to put Paterno on the shelf for not "doing enough," the same ESPN whose guests on the "Sports Reporters" said that the football program should receive the death penalty and not be allowed to participate in a bowl game and the same ESPN that showed little support, if any, for Paterno in the heat of the case.

And now we find out ESPN had an audio tape for 10 years and did nothing with it.

The excuse for ESPN executives not handing the tape over to authorities was they did not have corroborating evidence for the tape and decided not to turn this tape over to police or even children and youth services.

The last time I checked, I didn't think the media was the one that should determine if something should be investigated regarding criminal activity. If you have something like this audio tape, you need to turn it over to authorities. ESPN did not "do enough."

I will ask the question I heard an ESPN personality use when calling for Paterno's job: "If it was your child that was molested and you knew of an audio tape in your company's hands that showed these actions occurred, would you sit on it and not do anything with it?"

I think not!

I am greatly dismayed that no one is calling ESPN out for this. That no one is showing the guts to call out the big boys at this huge network that also includes ABC and its parent company, Disney. It seemed so easy for Mike and Mike, Colin Cowherd and many others to jump on the media bandwagon and hammer Paterno.

In my humble opinion, the Penn State Board of Trustees succumbed to the media pressure from these high-powered ESPN voices and removed Paterno without even talking to the man that has done more for this university than any other individual has done for any university in the world. We all know that the almighty dollar controls the world, and with the constant hammering of Paterno seen by the hundreds of thousands of great Penn State alumni, I am sure Old Main was hearing a lot of negativity, which most likely would result in a drop in donations to the university.

I have received a lot of support on my local morning show on WBLF when asking why ESPN has not been called on the carpet for not turning the tapes over to authorities. I do realize that many of the on-air personalities might not have had any clue about the Fine audio tape, but someone should be screaming from the top of their lungs asking ESPN the very same question it used in its part in getting a legend fired.

There are still many questions about this entire debacle that need to be answered. What did McQueary actually tell Paterno when they met in 2002? What did Paterno hear and pass along to athletic director Tim Curley and vice president for finance and business Gary Schultz? What exactly did Paterno, Curley and Schultz do? How many more people really did know about these allegations, not just within the university, but in the private sector as well?

I was a Second Mile Board member for about two-and-a-half years. I served on The Second Mile Golf Classic committee for 30 years, helping to raise more than $1 million for this great organization that has been decimated by scandal. My hope is that someone or some group of people can come to the aid of the thousands of kids who can no longer benefit from the many beneficial services of The Second Mile. It could begin in modest ways, reaching out to 50-100 kids to start, grow slowly from a very solid base and continue to grow with each passing month and year.

Lost in all of this at times are the victims and their families. Let's never forget what they have had to deal with for many years. Let's also not forget those kids whose lives improved, whose self-esteem grew and whose self-worth was bolstered through the great things The Second Mile provided for them.



Jerry Fisher hosts "Centre County This Morning," appearing weekdays from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. on 970 WBLF. He is now a regular columnist for StateCollege.com, as well.
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