The legacy of Joe Paterno

I am a big Joe Paterno fan.  I always have been but as Dan Wetzel writes, the allegations against the coaching legend are serious enough to forever taint his legacy.

Pennsylvania law asks employees to pass the information up their chain of command, where it fell on Curley to tell authorities. However, Paterno is no normal middle manager. He is a powerful and iconic figure across the state and Curley worked as much for him as he did for Curley.

Joe PaternoPaterno also built his reputation as much for his moral compass and NCAA compliance as his 409 career victories in his five-plus decade career as head coach at Penn State. Paterno has always been about doing more than the letter of the law.

How could he possibly agree that there was concern that something inappropriate may have occurred between an old man and a young boy in the shower of what should’ve been a closed locker room yet apparently believe the information wasn’t inappropriate enough to call the cops himself?

There is no sliding scale here. There is no reasonable explanation for a then 58-year-old man and a 10-year-old boy to be in that situation. This was a potential sexual assault of a minor occurring inside Paterno’s own locker room, by a long-time assistant coach and former player.

McQueary shouldn’t have had to provide explicit detail of what he saw for Paterno to be outraged and spring to action.

What Paterno heard and how he heard it was enough to call his boss to his home on a Sunday. It also should’ve been enough to follow up with police and continue to pursue it in the ensuing years.

Legally Paterno wasn’t required to do more. But since when has just doing enough been sufficient for a man such as Paterno?

Paterno wants us to wait for the legal system to play out but why not bring in the legal system in 2002?  I can’t help but feel that this is in many ways more connected to the corruption and the grotesque thing that NCAA football has allowed itself to grow into than we want to admit. 

If he had called the police, it would have been one more reason to respect Paterno.  By not doing something more, it will tarnish his reputation forever.

Update: Here is what it feels like to be a part of Penn State right now.

One thought on “The legacy of Joe Paterno”

  1. The “ick” factor in this scandal is off the charts. How could Paterno have put his loyalty to Sandusky ahead of the welfare of a child? How many other children had their lives ruined because he just did the minimum? (And his AD did nothing at all.) It’s sad that Paterno’s legacy is going to be marred by this, but that was his choice to make.

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