Happy to see Joe go

| Forum Editor

Well, Penn State University’s football program has experienced quite the fall from grace, hasn’t it? Really, the entire school is at a crossroads. A beloved football coach has been forced into early retirement. Penn State’s president, Graham Spanier, has been fired. However, he will remain employed as a professor in the Health and Human Development Department, a fitting place for someone who covers up child molestation. Do us a favor, Graham, and give us a brief lecture on the health and development of the victims of Jerry Sandusky. I’d love to see your talking points.

The whole scandal sickens me, and the university was right to fire everyone. A college football program was valued over a basic moral commitment to protect children. Gosh, it just seems so, what’s the word I’m looking for—depraved, when you say it that way. So what the hell went wrong?

From my understanding of the situation, here is what happened starting in March of 2002 and ignoring the previous 10 years of reported potential abuse: A graduate student walked in on Sandusky anally penetrating one of the boys who was part of Sandusky’s charitable organization, The Second Mile, in the locker room showers. The boy was about 10 years old. The graduate student reported the incident to Joe Paterno, who later reported the incident to Tim Curley, Penn State’s athletic director. Curley consulted Gary Schultz, the university’s interim senior vice president for finance and business. Schultz and Curley held a meeting with the grad student, who reported what he saw. At the end of March, Curley and Schultz decided that the appropriate punishment would be to take away Sandusky’s keys to the Lasch Football Building’s locker room. Bad Jerry. You sit now, without your locker room, and you think about what you’ve done.

No police report was filed, and the next time the graduate student was asked about what he saw was in his grand jury testimony in December. Of 2010.

Pardon my language, but what the f—? Sandusky must have been the defensive coordinator descended from above because, otherwise, this is just too messed up. In what world do you not inform the proper authorities of this? Is Penn State football exempt from the basic standards of human decency? It appears so.

Under the law, Joe Paterno was only required to inform his superior, which he did when he reported the incident to his athletic director. I feel, under the seemingly draconian rules by which I abide, that this is simply not enough. Under those same laws, Curley and Schultz were required to report the incident to the police. They did not. Nor did Paterno press the issue further. So he is not innocent by any means.

Joe Paterno has had a wonderful career. He is an excellent football coach, and has, unfortunately, been caught in the fire and brimstone that this sex scandal has brought upon Penn State. To be honest, there is probably too much media attention being brought his way. People messed up way more than he did, but he has to take some responsibility for what happened. The board was right to fire him despite his pledge to retire at the end of the season. He is not a target in the ongoing investigation, and that is just. His legacy at Penn State should remain intact, but Joe had a major lapse in judgment.

While I understand the impact and position that Joe Paterno has had at Penn State, it is baffling to me that these students are rioting in protest of his dismissal. Jon Stewart made that point abundantly clear when addressing the remainder of Penn State’s football season: “No one’s going to take that away. Because obviously you’re young and that would be a traumatic experience. And we wouldn’t want that memory to scar you for life.” All at Penn State should let that line stew for a little bit, and then reevaluate their actions and the ways in which they are approaching this whole mess.

Sign up for the email edition

Stay up to date with everything happening as Washington University returns to campus.

Subscribe