Paterno must be fired immediately for not appropriately reporting his knowledge of the despicable, horrific, mortifying, inhumane sexual crimes Jerry Sandusky is accused of committing against young boys — some of which happened at Penn State’s athletic facilities, according to a Pennsylvania attorney general report. The problem, though, is some of the people in charge of making such a decision to fire Paterno have been equally culpable of failing to properly investigate and report Sandusky’s alleged actions.
For that, the parties who turned away from the allegations are just as deplorable of human beings. Their ability to hold positions of power at an educational institution is disgustingly pathetic and disturbing. Everyone involved with Penn State has to feel ashamed that the school’s greatest icon can hear claims of rape on campus and fail to notify the police.
Part of the irony is Paterno almost certainly swept it under the rug in 2002 to preserve his reputation as one of the greatest coaches in sports history. He protected Sandusky — Peterno’s assistant for more than three decades and a heralded defensive coordinator who was considered to be Paterno’s successor before retiring in 1999 — to keep his program’s sterling record intact.
Now, with the truth laid out in court records, Paterno’s abhorrent irresponsibility should be his undoing. It shouldn’t just be a stain on his Hall of Fame résumé. It should be the single most dominant aspect of a shattered reputation.
Whether Sandusky is found guilty is not the issue here. Paterno was told of at least one alleged incident when Sandusky was raping a boy in the showers of a Penn State football locker room, the report states. Paterno passed the information along to athletic director Tim Curley a day later, according to the report, attended a meeting about the incident and then never let it publicly surface.
This should never have been about football or a chain of command at a university. From the moment Paterno knew of these allegations, he should have made sure they were handled appropriately. He is responsible for that much — if not for being the figurehead of the university, then for acting like an actual human being.
Sandusky may have destroyed countless lives with sick, twisted selfishness. (If you’ve got the stomach for it, you can read the grand jury testimony here or the attorney general’s press release here.) The mental anguish of the victims will haunt them for an eternity, and the helpless feeling of their families will extend to no end.
And this is what Penn State stands for? Is that worth the sanctity of two national championships or the race to boast the winningest coach in college football history?
If so, Sandusky’s alleged path of destruction deterred the judgment of everyone around him at Penn State. By not acting, Paterno, Curley and the university’s senior vice president, Gary Schultz, used their moral compass to deem appalling behavior of which Sandusky is accused as actually acceptable enough to protect some victories on the football field.
The totality of this merits one of the most disgusting scandals in sports history.
For this, Paterno’s legacy as a brilliant football mind means nothing — absolutely nothing. His lack of judgment, as a human being in charge of representing so much for Penn State and the college football world, is pathetic.
Paterno no longer deserves to go out on his own accord. He lost that freedom nearly a decade ago, even if it’s only being brought to light now.
Sandusky has been painted as a dirtbag whose revolting actions were concealed by Paterno. Penn State must fire the legendary coach immediately if it wants to save the smallest iota of decency.