Tuesday, April 19

Why I Didn't Read "Wounded Lions"

"Wounded Lions" author Ron Smith set out to create the history to support a never to be proven allegation that PSU officials failed to report Sandusky in 2001.

Ray Blehar

According to a January 19, 2016 email from "Wounded Lions" author Ron Smith, he set out to find the "historical background" that explained "how Penn State administrators responded to the Sandusky scandal."

Smith was not speaking about how the Penn State Board of Trustees sold the University down the river under the false pretense that they were caught by surprise by the Sandusky investigation.  

He was digging around trying to find individuals who would support the false narrative of an insular athletic culture that didn't conform to the rules of the rest of the University.

Smith's emails contained numerous examples of his falling for false narratives that the Attorney General's office and Louis Freeh wrote to deflect attention away from the failings of the Pennsylvania State Police, The Second Mile, and child welfare agents.  Instead, they heaped the responsibilities of those organizations onto Penn State.

The gullible emeritus professor got played like a fiddle.

Smith built a half century of history to support a false narrative of an insular football culture.

While Smith claims to have done extensive research about the history of PSU athletics, he admitted that he wasn't concerned about whether people were innocent or guilty.  


The whole "Penn State scandal" was based on allegations that Curley and Schultz, then eventually Spanier, failed to report abuse but Smith didn't believe he needed to find out whether that happened or not.  

What is even more crazy is that Smith admitted that if a trial took place, PSU officials wouldn't be found guilty.  
That statement said a lot about Smith's knowledge about the scandal. 

First, all he needed to do was read the child abuse reporting statutes to know whether or not what PSU did (or didn't do) was criminal.  It wasn't.  The statute didn't apply to University administrators in 2001 and still doesn't today -- even after revisions to the statutes in 2014.

Next, he didn't follow the case close enough to know that Spanier, Curley, and Schultz are scheduled to be tried together. There will be one trial, not three.

Finally, he didn't think they would be found guilty -- but the failure to report Sandusky charge is the decision for which he based his historical research.

So Smith forges on apparently assuming the PSU 3 are guilty -- but won't be convicted at a trial because of a lack of evidence.

Speaking of evidence or lack thereof, the book's premise is that PSU athletics was an "insular" operation.

Well, that premise was defeated by the evidence that was made public the day the Sandusky grand jury presentment was published.

Evidence:  PSU athletic department officials were extremely forthcoming and open in reporting and/or investigating Jerry Sandusky in 1998 and in 2001.  

In 1998, PSU Athletic Director (AD) Timothy Curley did not interfere or attempt to get involved in a child abuse investigation of then full-time assistant coach and defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.

In 2001, athletic department employees Mike McQueary, Joe Paterno, and AD Curley, when confronted with another incident of retired former coach Sandusky's inappropriate behavior with a child, reported the incident in accordance with University protocols.  In short, it was reported outside athletics.

Neither the 1998 nor the 2001 incident fit Smith's template of athletics as an "insular" operation.

But he somehow built a half-century of history to show that it was.

That's why I didn't waste my time reading "Wounded Lions."


  1. Thank you for writing this Ray. Please consider submitting tis as a LTE at the CDT. I think Ron Smith is an arrogant, dishonest, self-promoting pseudo-intellectual who should be shunned by all true Penn Staters. Yet, he is teaching a course this month through the PSU OLLI program. Old Main continues to perpetuate the false narrative. What a travesty!

  2. While I can understand not wanting to put money in Smith's pocket by purchasing the book, it might be worth reading if only for the purpose of rebutting blatantly false information. Consider many people who do read the book will assume this is a man who has done extensive research, and if this is what he found, it must be true. A well-reasoned, point-by-point counterargument could do a world of good.

    1. I agree that informed reviews of Smith's book would be better than ignoring it.

      Kirkus Reviews didn't think much of Smith's coverage of the Sandusky Scandal, saying

      "...when Smith enters the legal and moral thickets of the Sandusky case, he falters, rarely revealing anything fresh beyond the massive media coverage that followed the allegations. There is no clear indication that Smith gained access to Sandusky, Paterno before his death, the fired administrators, the prosecutors, the defense lawyers, or the judges handling various criminal charges."


  3. Based on the online excerpts, Smith's books seems full of factual errors and speculation. In the prologue he wrote,

    "'Is this opening of Pandora’s box?' asked Penn State’s senior vice president for Business and Finance Gary Schultz when informed of the first allegation that Jerry Sandusky had sexually molested a young boy from Sandusky’s Second Mile foundation."

    That was a misrepresentation because it was a note from Schultz's conversation with police chief Tom Harmon. Harmon's testimony was that he could have been the one who posed the Pandora's Box question, and Schultz merely copied it down.

    That's poor scholarship by Smith not to include such details from publicly available court transcripts.

  4. A clear case of academic fraud. If your thesis cannot survive rigorous peer review, you are toast. In the physical science world you would be trash.

    1. I think Ron Smith is quite foolish for publishing a work of fiction as non-fiction. And his publishing company, University of Illinois Press, is equally foolish. Because it is clear Smith's work, "Wounded Lions" is based on the proven falsehood that is the Freeh Report. And as the Freeh report is slowly being proved to be a grand lie, Louis Freeh has made himself quite liable. Freeh now says his report was 'opinion'. But the question remains, did this "opinion" that was presented on worldwide television as fact damage innocent people? Anyone who is honest with themselves knows the answer to this question. So Ron Smith and his publisher, University of Illinois Press, have now set themselves up for many lawsuits for committing academic fraud that has hurt innocent people, and a university's reputation.

      At the very least, the University of Illinois Press should repudiate Smith's work. At most, they should also recall all distributed copies of the fraudulent work. This way they may avoid the financial damages that surely await them and Smith as President Spanier wins his lawsuit against Louis-the-Liar-Freeh.