Man, it's been a tough decade for Penn State.
On the heels of a child-sex abuse scandal that rocked the university to its core, there is more
tragedy that has turned Happy Valley upside down----again
18 members of an on-campus fraternity were recently charged in the death of 19-year-old
student who had accepted a bid to a fraternity. Tim Piazza was nearly dead on his feet with
a blood-alcohol level of close to .40 when he ended up on a slab in the morgue. I don't think
I need to waste time or space on the page to explain what that number means.
After going through some incredibly stupid thing called, "the gauntlet", where the pledges were
forced to drink vodka, shotgun a beer, and do other ridiculous things, Piazza was close to a toxic
death. Now, I'm not embarrassed to say I don't know a thing about bids, pledges, or the other
dumb things that are part of the fraternity system. I lost any kind of interest or respect for it on
the way to baseball practice when I was a freshman at UNC in 1983. I noticed a bunch fellow students dressed in shirts and ties, blindfolded, and with hands tied behind their backs rolling
down hills to the edge of a wooded area. They were going through some initiation routine to get
into a fraternity.
You. Could. Not. Pay. Me. Millions. To. Do. Stuff. Like. That. To. Get. Into. Something.
Tim Piazza was drunk out of his mind. He fell down stairs. Long and steep ones. Hit his
head pretty good. Piazza got back up----and then fell again. This time he didn't get up for
more than 12 hours. Nobody, not his "friends" or frat brothers (Yeah, those are some friends
and really great frat brothers.) bothered to call for medical assistance.
During the investigation, a text by one of the frat "brothers" was discovered. It is unfathomable:
"If need be, just tell them what I told you guys, found him behind [a bar] the next morning
at around 10 a.m., and he was freezing-cold, but we decided to call 911 instantly, because
the kid's health was paramount."
What little regard for a person's welfare. The frat brother already hatched a plan to cover-up
the negligence of the entire frat house. According to the grand jury report, the investigation
found that Penn State's Greek community "nurtured an environment so permissive of excessive drinking and hazing that it emboldened its members to repeatedly act with reckless disregard to human life."
Reckless disregard to human life? Haven't we heard this before about nefarious activity on
the campus of Penn State? Hello, administrators, are you still asleep at the wheel after all
I'm not throwing the sick acts of Jerry Sandusky into the same category as the frat house scandal.
But in that child-sex abuse scandal, nobody did very much or seemed to care about the welfare of dozens and dozens of young kids. Nobody seemed to care about the welfare about
Tim Piazza when he lost his faculties and couldn't take care of himself.
"This didn't have to happen," said Jim Piazza, father of the deceased. "This is the result of a
feeling of entitlement, flagrant disobedience of the law and disregard for moral values that
was then exacerbated by egregious acts of self-preservation."
Eerie. That's what many people said after the Jerry Sandusky scandal broke in 2011. So many
administrators and football coaches inside the program felt entitled and were more concerned
about protecting themselves, they became negligent and showed a total disregard for the victims.
That scandal brought shame to Penn State and cost the university hundreds of millions of dollars.
It's time to get the checkbook out again, Penn State, this scandal is going to cost you, as well.
Eight of the fraternity brothers were charged with involuntary manslaughter, as was the chapter,
and other charges included hazing, aggravated and simple assault, alcohol-related violations and evidence tampering.
One life was lost over pure stupidity. Dozens of others have been damaged forever. The parents
of Piazza will be heartbroken forever. The 18 "men" will have a stain on their character and
record that will never be removed. Ever. And the parents of those kids must deal with the
uncomfortable stares from friends and neighbors.
And over what? Alcohol and stupidity. Not a single "friend" or frat brother felt compelled
to help Piazza out. How sad.
It's time to end the stupidity at Penn State and on other campuses, as well. Put a stop to the
Greek system. The drinking stories and tragedies are endless. Excessive drinking is not a badge of
courage, honor, or anything for that matter. They should give out a shield for the stupidity for it.
I reckon this story will dominate the news cycle for the next few days before America moves
onto something else. I'm pretty certain I'll be writing about another tragedy caused by drinking
We never learn.