- Unless you have been living in a cave the past week, you have heard of the mass child-abuse scandal at Penn State University. You know how former PenState football coach, Jerry Sandusky, was arrested for allegedly molesting and raping young boys involved with The Second Mile program, which he himself founded. What has also engulfed the nation this past week is that legendary football coach, Joe Paterno, was fired over his reported involvement in the scandal.
Before you formulate an opinion on Paterno’s firing and the scandal in general, I recommend that you read the 23-page grand jury report. If you do go read the report, I warn you it is graphic. It is disgusting and sickening and you will want to stop only after a couple pages, but you will understand exactly what Sandusky did, such as using PSU functions and the promise of spot on a future Penn State football roster, to get close to his victims, and you will not or at least you should not second guess the firing of Paterno and other Penn State officials.
Sandusky, who was hired back in 1969, set up The Second Mile in 1977, as a foster home dedicated to helping troubled young boys. Paterno, Sandusky, and Penn State went on to build their football program into one of the best in the country, and Sandusky was at one point first in line to replace Paterno if and when the head coach decided it was time to retire. However, Paterno never left and Sandusky retired in 1999, yet retained emeritus status with the school.
In 1998, campus police looked into a report that Sandusky had been showering with a young boy, but no criminal charges were ever filed. Sandusky was reportedly seen with boys from The Second Mile regularly, even after he was investigated.
In 2002, Sandusky was seen with a young boy in the locker room showers by a graduate assistant. This report was more incriminating as then graduate assistant and now assistant coach, Mike McQueary, said he saw Sandusky sodomizing the young boy, then proceeded to tell his father, Paterno and the athletic director, Tim Curly, in that order. Unfortunately, the story which McQueary reported to Paterno, and then eventually to the Tim Curly, was not the same story Curly told when he testified, denying that anything of “sexual nature” had ever occurred.
On Nov. 5 Sandusky was charged and arrested, and this past week was seemingly one Penn State public relations blunder
after another. Paterno likely hastened his firing, after he held a pep-rally outside his house Tuesday night. One only could hope that instead of leading fans in “Go Penn State” cheers, “Joe-Pa” would have adultly and rightfully decided that it was not the time to worry about Saturday’s game, and that the campuses concerns lied elsewhere.
Then after hearing that Paterno was actually fired and not allowed to finish out the year, students rioted in the streets of Happy Valley and continued to demonstrate both their carelessness for the chance that their “leader” aided and abetted a serial child-rapist and that Paterno had and, in some ways, still has complete control over the hearts and minds of College Town, Pa.
We can only guess why Paterno, or anyone else for that matter, didn’t go straight to the authorities. We know Sandusky was “Joe-Pa’s” right-hand man, but wouldn’t the allegations surrounding Sandusky have negated that? Did Sandusky threaten to blow the whistle on a separate and less shocking scandal like possibly recruiting violations? It’s not hard to imagine Penn State breaking NCAA rules considering it sounds like they were willing to keep a known child-rapist on staff.
Even though Paterno did technically cover himself by going to his direct superior, wouldn’t firing Sandusky, alerting the police and then telling your boss what happened be the humane thing to do? It is also strange that Curly left out that McQueary had reported seeing Sandusky having sex with the child.
Even though Paterno will likely face no criminal charges, he will almost surely be slapped with several civil suits and his legacy and the legacy of Penn State will be forever tarnished.
Personally, I feel no sympathy for Paterno. How there were multiple times that Sandusky was said to have been doing something inappropriate with a young boy, and he wasn’t so much as banned from the Penn State campus, I will never know. It only goes to show the true power these large athletic programs have. In this case, Paterno may have been the most influential figure at Penn State, and after this past week, hearing how the students, former players and the media reacted, he sadly may still be.