Obama: Penn State abuse cause for 'soul-searching'

By Associated Press | November 11, 2011 | 10:00 PM EST

President Barack Obama watches the first half of the Carrier Classic NCAA college basketball game between Michigan State and North Carolina with Medal of Honor recipient John Baca aboard the USS Carl Vinson, Friday, Nov. 11, 2011, in Coronado, Calif. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

CORONADO, Calif. (AP) — President Barack Obama says the Penn State sex-abuse scandal should lead to "soul-searching" by all Americans, not just Penn State.

"Obviously what happened was heartbreaking, especially for the victims, the young people who got affected by these alleged assaults," he told Westwood One radio in an interview Friday night. "And I think it's a good time for the entire country to do some soul-searching — not just Penn State. People care about sports, it's important to us, but our No. 1 priority has to be protecting our kids. And every institution has to examine how they operate, and every individual has to take responsibility for making sure that our kids are protected."

The Penn State scandal has cost several university officials their jobs, most notably longtime football coach Joe Paterno, who was faulted for not alerting police after he was told about alleged sex abuse by a former assistant coach.

Obama said that the scandal shows that "you can't just rely on bureaucracy and systems in these kinds of situations. People have to step forward, they have to be tapping into just their core decency." When kids are mistreated — or anyone, for that matter — "all of us have to step up, we don't leave it to somebody else to take responsibility."

Obama spoke at halftime of a college basketball game — the Carrier Classic — between No. 1 North Carolina and Michigan State, held on the deck of an aircraft carrier.

The president, a huge basketball fan, also discussed the NBA lockout.

"It's killing me!" he said. But he also said he had no plans to intercede.

"My attitude is that, in a contest between billionaires and millionaires, they should be able to figure out how to divvy up their profits in a way that serves their fans who are allowing them to be making all this money," Obama said. He made a similar comment about the NFL lockout a few months ago.