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Joe Paterno cared more about Penn State’s program than Sandusky scandal: should resign immediately


Amid chilling allegations of child-sex acts levied at former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, one thing is clear: Joe Paterno and university administrators were far more concerned with their brand than the safety and well-being of children.  

If you haven’t read the twenty-three page grand jury report detailing Sandusky’s alleged molestation of 8 boys, the above narrative seems judgmental.  But knowing Paterno’s grand jury testimony and his recent statements about the scandal gives my opinion context.Joe Paterno photo: myhero.com

Sure, the alumni and other happy valley supporters carry an arrogance because of the football team and perceived way its leader has conducted his business. But this is not meant to take a shot at them. This is simply about what Paterno told the grand jury versus his defiant stance today.  It’s not a case of he said, she said; this is about he said, he said.       
Conversely, we shouldn’t rush to decide Sandusky’s involvement. That’s for the legal system. But what Paterno knew about his old friend’s alleged sexual degeneracy is not. According to the report, Paterno testified that a graduate assistant—believed to be current Penn State wide receivers coach, Mike McQueary—told him he saw Sandusky “in the Lasch Building showers fondling or doing something of a sexual nature to a young boy.”  Further testimony reveals that conversation took place less than 48 hours after the alleged incident.    

Now, Paterno wants us to believe McQueary was upset about what he’d seen, went to Paterno’s house to discuss it but failed to offer details.  In a recent statement Paterno said, “It was obvious that the witness (McQueary) was distraught over what he saw, but at no time related to me the very specific actions contained in the grand jury report.”    

In other words, JoePa (as he is so affectionately known) wants us to believe McQueary told him of Sandusky’s alleged bathing habits, but was vague about how he used the soap. Is it possible the man who has controlled all of Penn State’s football related matters for nearly half a century could be that naïve?  No, but accusations of child molestation linked to the football program is bad for recruiting.

Case in point: Bishop McDevitt (Harrisburg, PA) defensive end Noah Spence is one of the best prep football players in the state, if not the country. He was considering Penn State among other schools.  But the scandal has him unnerved.  Monday he tweeted:

“Um psu might be a no no for me ewwww,” and later added “I kind of just dnt want to be part of that.”

To be fair to Paterno it couldn’t have been easy for him to learn his friend of over thirty years allegedly had inappropriate contact with boys. But he had choices. He could have called the authorities based on what McQueary told him; he didn’t. He could have spoken with Sandusky and encouraged him to face the allegations. There is no evidence he did that either.  Instead, he contacted Penn State athletic director Tim Curley to tell him what McQueary had witnessed.  

Predictably, Penn State and JoePa defenders say Paterno couldn’t have known about the depth of Sandusky’s alleged depravity because he would have reported him if he had.  They insult your intelligence by suggesting he obeyed the letter of the law by reporting Sandusky to the athletic director. Jerry Sandusky photo: bleacherreport.com

They’re even trying to confuse you by asking what Paterno could gain by protecting Sandusky. Don’t be fooled because the answer to this is simple: it’s far more beneficial for a multi-million dollar business to distance itself from a scandal than to bring it to light.

The authorities, too, are beginning to look at Paterno’s responsibility.  During a press conference yesterday in Harrisburg, state police Commissioner Frank Noonan said, “but somebody has to question about what I would consider the moral requirements for a human being that knows of sexual things that are taking place with a child.”   

Paterno claims he has “devoted his life to helping young people reach their potential.” I believe he has. But who was he trying to help in early March 2002?  Was it his friend?  Was it the university, the football program, or himself?  It surely wasn’t the child allegedly victimized by Sandusky.  

JoePa has 409 wins as a college coach, but he needs to accept a loss now.  He didn’t lie to the grand jury but he is lying to us. For that, Paterno should resign effective immediately.  He owes it to the alleged victims, their families and the university.  

Only a Nittany-lemming would say otherwise. 

Earl Myers is a freelance writer from the Philadelphia area.  He closely follows North America's four major sports leagues but just about any sporting event gets his attention.  His goal is to provoke a little thought in his readers.

Contact Earl at emyersiii@gmail.com

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Paterno photo: myhero.com