When NCAA officials announced unprecedented punishment against Penn State University, they blamed the cover-up regarding Jerry Sandusky on a football-obsessed culture willing to win at any cost.
“But the fundamental story of this horrific chapter should focus on the innocent children and the powerful people who let them down,” said Ed Ray, NCAA Executive Committee Chair, during Monday’s announcement in Indianapolis regarding Penn State’s punishment.
In the wake of the case, colleges and universities across the nation are reviewing their own procedures to stop it from happening again.
Purdue University, for example, recently started a new training program to teach employees and volunteers how to identify the signs of sexual abuse.
“[We were] looking at areas where we felt we had some gaps that we perhaps needed to improve on our processes,” said Alysa Rollock of the Purdue Office of Ethics and Compliance.
The work started at Purdue before the Sandusky case exposed failures of Penn State’s administration. Purdue had already opened an anonymous tipline where whistleblowers could report criminal activity directly to public safety officials.
The program was designed to prevent exactly the kind of cover-up that now means stiff penalties at Penn State.
“You can imagine that if the custodians who had been aware of wrongdoing had had knowledge of the existence of a hotline they could have perhaps reported it anonymously,” said Rollock.
In May, Indiana University announced a review of its own procedures and enacted new measures to protect children.
IU’s policy includes the required report of sexual abuse to the Child Protective Services and campus public safety. All employees are required to undergo criminal background and sex offender registry checks every three years. In addition, IU mandated better tracking of all university-sponsored programs involving children.
The goal of both schools is to let the public know that children involved with the university are being watched over.
“I think everybody is focused still on the victims. We haven't heard the end of that. They're not out of our minds. They will be on our minds for years to come,” said Timothy Sands, Purdue’s acting president.