Penn State Scandal Rocks Happy ValleySaturday, December 10, 2011 By Bruce Backa
Thursday, November 10, long time Penn State head football coach, Joe Paterno, was fired after 46 incredible years of coaching. During his career, he acquired numerous achievements, awards, and championships, making him the winningest coach in the history of Division I football. Known for his generosity and integrity, Paterno has accomplished a lot for Penn State, not only in football, but also in financial and academic aspects. His actions reflect the famous Penn State catchphrase: “Success with Honor.” Joe Paterno reflects all that is Penn State. It is hard to believe that this has been overshadowed by the recent ugly scandal. As many already know, after a two-year investigation, former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky has been charged with sexually assaulting eight boys over a 15-year period. Current Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary witnessed one disturbing incident in 2002 and reported this to Paterno, who in turn notified the athletic director Tim Curley and the vice president Gary Schultz, who then notified the president Graham Spanier. Paterno followed procedure, but nothing was truly accomplished, and the investigation was delayed. Shockingly, what had initially dominated the media coverage was not the actual crime, but the lack of action taken by these high-ranking Penn State officials who were all informed of the incident and did not respond properly. The two really dominating the media coverage, however, have been assistant coach Mike McQueary and of course, “JoePa.” The board of trustees recently decided to fire coach Joe Paterno due to his lack of action in addressing the situation. Though he cannot be pursued legally, the outraged public questioned why Paterno did not do more. Even though he has always been a symbol of morality and integrity, the board of trustees needed to throw him to the dogs in order to make a statement that the university is taking this matter very seriously. Penn Staters everywhere are furious over this turn of events, but really, we need to take a step back, consider both sides of the story, and realize this is about more than football. If the allegations are true, then Paterno absolutely deserved to be fired. However, I don’t think that was necessarily the case. Paterno may not have been told the full extent of the situation, as some report only the events as “horsing around.” Furthermore, Sandusky and Paterno had a close relationship. If someone were to approach me with an allegation against one of my good friends, whom I very much respect and have always seen as a man of integrity, I wouldn’t immediately believe the allegation without any solid proof. I believe Paterno wanted to take the safe approach: report the situation to his superior, and let him handle it discreetly and professionally, keeping the image of the school in mind. I believe that a man of Paterno’s caliber and integrity wouldn’t just let this go, and he wouldn’t have remained inactive if he truly knew the full extent of the situation and was fully aware that sexual abuse was going on. However, this is speculation, and only my opinion. Both the public and official viewpoint is that Paterno was negligent in efforts to help the victims. This scandal has rocked everything we know about Penn State. As it is, Joe Paterno and his superiors were all aware of the scandal, and failed to report it, possibly for the sake of maintaining Penn State’s image. If so, Penn State is right to get rid of these men. No matter who they are, legend or not, they made a terrible mistake and frankly shouldn’t be involved with an institution such as Penn State. You can’t put the image of the school ahead of the victims. I fully agree with the argument that there is a moral code that Joe Paterno should have followed. I disagree with the final decision to fire Paterno, as I do not believe that a man who has stood for such high standards would have let such a horrendous incident slide had he known about it. However, action needed to be taken, and unfortunately, the facts point straight to JoePa. Penn Staters: Yes, we lost a great football coach, one of the greatest ever, but keep in mind this isn’t about football. Penn State will find another coach, another man of honor who will help bring back Penn State from this low, and keep the Nittany Lions fighting hard to uphold the tradition of “Success with Honor.” Penn State football will recover and maintain a commitment to excellence. Those who may never recover are the victims of Sandusky’s horrible acts. Throughout the first days of the media coverage, Sandusky was the person people talked about the least, which is a shame, because if anything, the nation, beyond Penn State, should be outraged at him. The individuals he allegedly harmed will never be the same again, and they need a nation’s support if they ever hope to recover. Penn State will return to a plateau of honor and integrity. One coach doesn’t make a university. It’s the students, alumni, and die-hard fans across the nation. The board of trustees did the right thing, pending the allegations are true. Action needed to be taken, these men, including JoePa, needed to leave if Penn State ever hopes to cleanse itself and return to a university we can be proud of.