PDT Sports Editor
The ramifications of the Penn State sex abuse controversy keep piling up and after a weekend that saw the bronze statue of coach Joe Paterno removed from outside Beaver Stadium, Monday brought NCAA sanctions.
NCAA president Mark Emmert expedited the sanctioning process, using data compiled from the conviction of former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky and the school’s own investigation conducted by former Federal Bureau of Investigation director Louis Freeh.
The penalties are a $60 million fine, with proceeds going to an endowment fund for victims of sexual abuse, a four-year postseason ban, a reduction of annual scholarships from 25 to 15 over four years, a five-year athletic department probation period and vacating all victories from 1998 to 2011.
While the sporting world digested the latest development in the seemingly endless Penn State sex abuse saga, locals with current connections to the football program are wondering what to do next.
Gerald Cadogan, a former All-Big Ten offensive tackle for the Nittany Lions and product of Portsmouth High School has seen each of his four bowl appearances vacated by the NCAA’s move.
“I’m puzzled to hear someone say, lets pretend like that these wins didn’t happen,” Gerald Cadogan said. “Lets pretend that these games didn’t get played. The NCAA may have the authority to erase it from their record books and whatever documentation that they have, but they can not get rid of the blood, sweat and tears that we put into two-a-days that we put in every single year. Or the way that we prepared to win games or the brotherhood that we had there. You cannot erase how we fought and came from behind and won.”
Additionally, Gerald’s younger brother, Nate Cadogan, also a PHS product and a current Nittany Lion offensive tackle in his redshirt junior season, is faced with possibility of never again playing in a postseason game.
Monday morning, Nate reacted to the news of the NCAA sanctions via twitter saying, “PSU vs the world!!! Day 1.”
The younger Cadogan, replying to critics, also defended the team’s current state via Twitter.
“To my knowledge everyone involved with that has been removed from the program, this refers to the here and now!” Nate Cadogan tweeted.
Reached Monday evening for comment, Gerald and Nate’s mother Maureen Cadogan, also a Portsmouth native, discussed her emotions following the sanctions.
“We knew that there was going to be a team meeting this morning,” Maureen said. “I knew they were going to report it at nine and the team was called in a little earlier.”
She dismissed the idea of years of work by both of her sons being swept from the NCAA record.
“They cannot wave a magic wand and say you didn’t get these wins and didn’t have success,” she said. “They can say what they want to theoretically on paper, but they did happen and that can’t be taken away.”
Gerald felt the NCAA should have looked closer.
“I think that the NCAA, before doing these sanctions, should have done their own investigation to see exactly what happened and who should be punished,” Gerald said. “Instead, what we have today, is the NCAA giving a punishment to a university and to people who had no part in it. The current players, the fans and even the current coaches there. They had no part in any of that scandal.
“It’s a punishment for myself as well. How can someone tell me that my five years of playing football…That was my job basically. To go to school and make good grades and the other part of that coin was to produce on the field and pour everything I had into that. It bewilders me for someone to tell me that was all for not.”
The sanctions are just the latest in a long line of events that have tested the Cadogan’s resolve. When news of the accusations of sexual abuse by Sandusky broke, PSU officials moved quickly to distance the school from the scandal. They dismissed Paterno, who had been the winningest coach in college football history before Monday’s sanctions.
“I still personally, will never believe that Joe covered up anything,” Maureen said. “For someone that knew him, they would know that this would never happen.”
After Sandusky’s trial and conviction on charges of sexual abuse, the Freeh Report was released and Gerald was eager for the world to move on from the scandal.
“Penn State had an obligation, basically, to right a wrong in the sense that anybody involved in that thing should have lost their position and that is what happened,” Gerald Cadogan said the day of the report’s release. “Paterno passed away, Sandusky was convicted they’re ready to shut the chapter on them and move on and once again it’s on every news channel and ESPN and it’s like, here we go again. It’s like a never-ending saga.”
The NCAA, citing an effort not to punish current and future players at Penn State, stipulated that any current players can transfer immediately and not endure the typical, one-year relegation to the sideline the governing body normally enforces. That leaves a window for Nate to finish his career elsewhere and an important decision to be made.
“Right now we are just processing everything that has happened today. A lot has happened. And so we are just dealing with that,” Maureen said regarding the possibility of a transfer. “At this point we are just going to take it one day at a time and we are going to seek the Lord and let him direct, because personally I don’t know what to do.
“We have to be there for the kids and let them know whatever their decision is, if you leave, if you stay, we will get through this. We are just looking at everything right now.”
Gerald also noted that his family had discussed the option of transferring but did not want to indicate any direction the family might be leaning.
“Our family has discussed it and I won’t go into detail about what we discussed, but I will tell you that at the end of the day, the reason I chose Penn State and the reason my brother chose Penn State was because we saw something special there,” Gerald said. “It’s not being bowl eligible or not bowl eligible, it’s because there is something special at Penn State and I’m not sure that everyone sees that. There is a sense of family, a sense of community, a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood there that I did not see at any other university.”
The sanctions, that are second only to the sanctions the NCAA applied to Southern Methodist University in 1987, had Gerald sorting through his feelings.
“I guess I would summarize myself as just a cluster of different emotions,” Gerald said. “My heart goes out to my former teammates and the current players there. They have been working so hard to work for this upcoming season, busting their butts in the weight room and in the classroom and now they have to face these penalties and punishments that they had no part in.
“Another emotion I feel is anger. I feel very, very angry and sad to hear those negative things said about someone who gave his life, his heart and everything he had into Penn State, and that is Joe Paterno. To hear people slander him and say this and that about him, it’s frustrating because he is not here to defend himself.”
Maureen felt a welling of mixed emotions as well.
“It wasn’t a pleasant morning,” she said. “I was hurt, I was mad, I was angry. I felt a lot of emotions.”
Both Maureen and Gerald said the punishment brought down by the NCAA was levied in the wrong direction. Maureen did not mince words when asked what she would say to Emmert if ever given the chance.
“That everybody has to answer to God and I hope he can stand there and realize what he has done to all these students that were innocent,” Maureen said of Emmert. “I hope he can stand before God and take it like a man. Because he pronounced a judgment that’s so unfair to these students that had no part of that. Punishing them cannot correct the wrong that was done. They are innocent and I hope he can live with that.”
Gerald said he would not have much to say to Emmert.
“I’ve gone over conversations in my head as to what I would say, but honestly there’s nothing to be said. We’ve been issued punishment and we have to live with these consequences of someone else’s actions,” he said.
The process of moving forward is one that Gerald and his former teammates are trying to spearhead.
“There is a movement right now with the former Penn State lettermen to bond together and to encourage these young athletes that are there now,” he said. “It’s time to bound together as the Penn State family and close that chapter and open the next chapter. And that is to rebuild, to reestablish, to reclaim our legacy and the Penn State tradition.”
The biggest obstacle will likely be future developments such as the civil suits against the university. Maureen told her youngest son to roll with the punches and Gerald looked toward the rebuilding process.
“It’s like a never-ending cycle of up again, down again, up again, down again and I’m just looking forward, since all the punishment has been issued, to a Penn State rebound,” Nate said. “Lets pick up all the pieces and get back on the track. Lets get back on the Penn State way.”
Bob Strickley may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 203, or firstname.lastname@example.org.