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The Shocking Truth About Joe Paterno, Penn State and Governor Tom Corbett

After 7 months, 400 interviews and the review of more than 3.5 million documents, Louis Freeh has completed his report on the dark underside of Penn State University.

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But the report is also striking for what it doesn’t discuss, mainly the role of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett. Louis Freeh is someone who has always been a proud lieutenant of institutional power, and with this report he doesn’t disappoint. As I wrote after the Sandusky verdict,

The Governor is far from an innocent bystander. As the state’s attorney general in 2009, Corbett headed a state investigation into accusations against the revered former coach. Although his office denies it, there are multiple confirmations that Corbett assigned no one from his office to follow up on the charges: just one state trooper, a state trooper “not authorized to bring charges against Sandusky.” In addition, when Corbett was sworn in as governor in 2011, he still had not informed Thae Second Mile Foundation that their founder was under investigation. Instead, as a candidate for governor, he took $650,000 in donations from members of the Second Mile’s unknowing board, even allowing their chairman to hold a fundraiser for his campaign. Upon being elected, Corbett then moved deftly from doing nothing to immediately try to deflect the entire weight of the scandal onto Joe Paterno and Penn State itself, using his recently appointed position as a member of the school’s Board of Trustees (an automatic appointment for all Pennsylvania Governors) to do so.

As bracing as the Freeh report is, it confirms what we long suspected and Penn State will pay the price. But it’s also bracing that the dead and the indicted get the blame, while the sitting governor gets to have press conferences and praise Freeh for his efforts. I hope that Sandusky’s victims leave room in their deserved litigious appetites for Governor Corbett. We should all hope he has to answer for the banality of his own evil. If that’s difficult for Corbett to handle, maybe he should take the advice he gave to women upset about his support for mandatory vaginal ultrasounds and he can just lie back and “close his eyes.”

Dave Zirin is the author of "What's My Name Fool? Sports and Resistance in the United States." Read more of his work at

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