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Joe Paterno Fired By Penn State University, But More Firings Will Need To Happen


Perhaps it was the priest in the opening of the movie, Boondock Saints, who said it best, “Now, we must all fear evil men. But there is another kind of evil which we must fear most, and that is the indifference of good men.”

That is the real story in Happy Valley.

Joe Paterno will not retire at the end of this season, he won’t even get to call the plays this Saturday.  Late Wednesday evening, Joe Paterno, along with Penn State President Graham Spanier were fired, effective immediately.

Joe Paterno photo: myhero.comRightly so, in both accounts.  As a representative of the players, and as a representative of the university, both failed in their positions.  They were good moves.  But the university shouldn’t stop there.

To begin, Penn State University has not fired Mike McQueary - who witnessed Sandusky raping a child in a shower. Instead they said McQueary won't coach on Saturday (Penn State's last home game this season) due to multiple threats.

 I’d also like to take this time to present a recent trend in college athletics -- college administrations have turned their heads when illicit behavior threatens their athletic programs, and therefore cash flow.

The University of Southern California, University of Miami, Ohio State University, Auburn University -- college athletics has become no stranger to controversy.  That’s not to say that those scandals come close to entering the realm of atrocities that occurred at Penn State, but it does exemplify a pattern of irresponsibility by the schools’ administrations.  The Penn State sex scandal is the latest, most extreme, and morally offensive example of a real problem in an increasingly profitable, and similarly problematic aspect of national universities.  Do university administrations run the school or do the athletic programs?

The tragedy is that as much as we are all morally outraged by the ineptness or lack of courage (as some have called it) by Joe Paterno to take the extra step, the root of the problem remains with the lack of accountability by the universities as a whole.  To answer my previous question, why let Joe Paterno take the hype?  

Sure, Graham Spanier was also fired, but it wasn’t his name or legacy questioned all week, it was Paterno’s.  Joe Paterno was a beloved staple of Penn State’s culture and reputation, whom many considered tough, but respectable at the same time.  By allowing Joe Paterno (like Jim Tressel at Ohio State) to take the fall, the Administration, supported by its alumni and Board members absolves their own involvement, and maintains the image of responsibility without taking any at all.  Whether Paterno was at fault or not, the administration harbored a pedophile for more than a decade.

It is not enough to just fire Paterno and Spanier.  In the name of the children whose lives were tarnished as a result of Jerry Sandusky’s conduct, it’s hard to say whether justice will ever truly be served.  With the immediate firings of Paterno and Spanier the university has taken a step in the right direction, but when you consider Sandusky was protected by the University for over a decade, more firings need to occur.

For more of Alyssa's work on Philly2Philly - check out her article on Occupy Wall Street

Contact Alyssa Bonk at abonk08@gmail.com

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