Former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno and players

*Could the Jerry Sandusky – Joe Paterno – Penn State child sex abuse scandal be the ugliest moment in American sporting history? It’s hard to recall anything worse.

There’s something so basely foul, so inherently ugly about the entire situation that it makes skin crawl to just think about – let alone fathom its depths of depravity. It’s like someone’s scraped together the vilest, most hateful things in human nature and spread it over a place called “Happy Valley” – the most horrible bit of irony possible.

Where does this end? In the last year, we’ve seen the seamy side of modern college athletics exposed like never before – a never-ending cesspool of corruption and money encouraged by untethered power. The booster at Miami. The tattoo parlor at Ohio State. USC’s suspension. The allegations about Kentucky’s basketball programs. Some of the most storied programs in college, all cut and bleeding by their illicit activities.  .

Those all seem like jaywalking as compared to the ugliness at Penn State. This wasn’t some booster slipping a naïve kid a few hundred bucks for a plane ride home – this was institutionalized abuse of minors by a person in power. It’s the worst possible aftershock of the new landscape in college sports, where the athletics programs have grown so powerful that they’re able to effectively control the university. It may have been one man’s horrific activities that started the scandal, but it was an entire college’s fear of disrupting their cash-cow program that allowed it to continue.  It’s a truly shameful event.