Thursday, November 10, 2011

Paterno reputation tarnished by scandal

Source: AP
Last night, long-time Penn State football coach Joe Paterno was fired amidst allegations that one of his former assistant coaches sexually abused at least eight boys.

Paterno’s ouster as coach comes amidst a house-cleaning at Penn State that also claimed the job of the university’s president, Graham Spanier, who also was fired yesterday, and athletic director Tim Curley, who resigned last week. Curley also has been charged with perjury in an alleged university-wide cover-up of the allegations that Jerry Sandusky, who was Penn State’s defensive coordinator from 1977 to 1999, molested at least eight boys who came through his organization for at-risk boys, The Second Mile, between 1994 and 2009. One of the alleged incidents allegedly took place in the football team locker room, and was allegedly witnessed by a staff member, according to reports.

Needless to say, this tarnishes the great record of Paterno, who we were just celebrating on Oct. 29 when he notched his 409th career win with a 10-7 victory over Illinois. Paterno and Penn State football are virtually synonymous, with “JoePa” having been a coach at the school since 1950 and its head coach since 1966. He had a great record and an even greater reputation, maintaining a clean program free of NCAA violations that came to haunt other big-time college football programs throughout his tenure.

However, Paterno, 84, needed to go as this scandal grew. While he has yet to be charged with any criminal wrong-doing in the case, what he knew and when he knew it casts a huge shadow over his legacy. According to reports, he told Curley about an alleged incident in the Penn State locker room in 2002, but then did nothing else.

That in itself could possibly be defended if he was confident that that Curley or some higher-up would do something about it, like call the police. However, he apparently let it lie, and that cannot be allowed to stand, as the head of the program.

Sadly, Paterno also was more concerned about helping Penn State University than the alleged victims. In a statement released Wednesday on his retirement before the news broke that he was fired, he called the scandal a “tragedy” and “one of the great sorrows of my life,” adding he wished he had done more. 

However, the end of the statement was more telling to me and others:

“My goals now are to keep my commitments to my players and staff and finish the season with dignity and determination. And then I will spend the rest of my life doing everything I can to help this University.”

It's a sad end to a career tarnished by a story that continues to get sadder as it grows.

No comments: