While employed at Penn State, former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, despite his lofty athletic position, was but a speck within the massive university community.

But what he has cost the school over the past six years monetarily, as well as to the university’s image and reputation, will forever accurately characterize him as an ignominious behemoth.

His abominable sexual abuse of dozens of young people, for which he was convicted, and his unwillingness to accept the punishment that a court of law imposed — punishment that his unsuccessful appeals so far have upheld — long will remain a source of pain, anger and distress for the university, even when or if all of his possible legal options are exhausted.

Sandusky never will be just a footnote in the university’s historical record; anytime his name surfaces, so will recollections of the damage he caused.

Beyond that, bewilderment will remain about how a university with such a solid reputation, and with leadership so strong and capable — leadership with such a dynamic and futuristic vision — could be duped into becoming victimized by a serial pedophile for more than a decade.

The Associated Press report published by the Mirror on Saturday about Penn State now having paid out more than $100 million in regard to abuse claims tied to Sandusky provides another page as to how badly the university has been hurt by this sexual predator.

But that amount is only a part of the overall Sandusky-related costs that the university has incurred. Saturday’s article reported that the overall total currently exceeds a quarter-billion dollars.

Meanwhile, how much in additional Sandusky-related outlays might be forthcoming can only be a matter of conjecture.

The university no doubt will continue to be plagued by legal costs tied to further Sandusky appeals, if he doesn’t abandon them — the likely scenario.

What has catapulted the abuse-claims payout figure above $100 million is an additional $16 million paid to people with claims about having been sexually abused by Sandusky. According to the AP report, it was unclear how many people shared in the latest settlements that the article said were made during the fiscal year that ended June 30.

Previously, the university said it had settled with 33 people for $93 million. Thus, the additional $16 million brings the new total to about $109 million.

Penn State also disclosed in its annual financial statement released Friday that it spent at least $4.9 million last year on Sandusky scandal-related internal investigations and costs, presumably tied to new or expanded allegations.

For the university, then, the name “Sandusky” just doesn’t go away, even though Sandusky, now 73, is serving a 30- to 60-year sentence at a state penitentiary.

Penn State will survive the Sandusky scourge and the bad decisions by some former university officials, but few people could have imagined that the healing would take so long and be so costly.

No positive results Sandusky achieved during his coaching career can ever help eradicate the costly harm for which he was so despicably responsible.

—The Altoona Mirror

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