The Paw Print
Joe Paterno could have gone down as a great college coach, untarnished by the scandals that so often plague our sports heroes. Instead he will surely lose his reputation along with his job in one of the more horrifying events to demolish a coaching career.
This is not about questionable recruiting tactics, faking injuries, or spying on opponent’s signals. It’s not even on par with Tiger Woods’ cheating or in the same arena as Kobe Bryant’s rape case. Penn State’s retired defensive assistant coach Jerry Sandusky has been charged with a total of 40 counts related to the sexual abuse of eight boys, with more accusations piling on as the situation develops.
Sandusky, now 67, created The Second Mile foundation for needy children in 1977 “to help Pennsylvania’s children achieve their potential.” The Grand Jury transcript (a terrifying document) states, “It was within The Second Mile program that Sandusky found his victims.”
It was through the program Sandusky often brought children to the campus facilities. In 2002, a graduate assistant told Paterno of an event that occurred between Sandusky and a young boy in the showers. The assistant, Mike McQueary, explained that it was disturbing and possibly sexual in nature.
Paterno passed the information about his 30-year colleague on to Athletic Director Tim Curley, fulfilling his legal obligation, but apparently no serious repercussions or investigations took place. The lack of more decisive action on Paterno’s part stains his impressive rein as coach of the Nittany Lions.
The 84-year-old coach has a record 409 wins and a total of 61 years at Pennsylvania State University. If he proceeds with plans to coach this weekend, he will have coached more college football games than anyone in history. There is no doubt that Paterno had a huge part in making Penn State what it is today.
Not that Paterno and Sandusky will be the only ones to go down while this tragedy plays out. The latter, though retired, still retains an office on campus and has been seen there in the last week. This is something that the university administration will have to answer for, probably sooner than later.
The Second Mile has mostly refrained from comment on the situation, although the founder’s name has been removed from their website.
As I write this, Paterno indicates he will retire at the end of the year, but it’s hard to imagine seeing him in the box this weekend. The President of the University has been told to resign or be voted out. It’s hard to comprehend that the people put in these positions did not take more action, possibly allowing Sandusky to abuse more innocent children.