In one line, one sentence devoid of any real emotion or context, Joe Paterno essentially wrote his own coaching obituary.
"As coach Sandusky was already retired from our coaching staff at that time, I referred the matter to university administrators."
That wasn't the end of the statement, but if it was the extent of Paterno's involvement in what could turn out to be the worst scandal in the history of major college athletics, it should be the end of his career.
|Photo by: Doug Pensinger|
He can't correct the mistakes he made in March of 2002, but he can acknowledge them and atone for them in only one way -- by announcing his resignation, effective immediately. He can stand for something in the end by admitting that he didn't stand up or speak up strongly enough almost a decade ago.
Jerry Sandusky may have been retired as a Penn State assistant coach at the time referenced in Paterno's statement, but if the findings of fact by a Pennsylvania Grand Jury are correct, he wasn't retired from another pursuit; child abuser and sexual predator.
The grand jury's findings list eight boys that Sandusky allegedly victimized, in forty separate incidents, over a fifteen-year period from 1994-2009, both before and after his coaching days. One of those instances did not go unnoticed, but it did go unreported, at least to police.
And that's where Paterno betrayed a life spent teaching boys how to be men.
According to the grand jury, on Friday, March 1st, 2002, at around 9:30 in the evening, 28-year-old Penn State grad assistant Mike McQueary walked into the locker room at the program's football building to put some new sneakers in his locker and grab some recruiting tapes to watch. The lights and showers were on, and he heard sounds of a sexual nature. McQueary saw Sandusky and a boy who looked to be about 10-years-old engaged in sex. Shaken by what he'd stumbled upon, McQueary went to his office, called his father and left the building.
The following morning, he visited Joe Paterno at his home and "reported what he had seen," according to the grand jury.
However, Paterno's statement differs.
"It was obvious that the witness was distraught over what he saw, but he at no time explained to me the very specific actions contained in the grand jury report," according to the statement. "Regardless, it was clear that the witness saw something inappropriate involving Mr. Sandusky."
Either way, the news should have shaken Paterno. Just imagine hearing an eyewitness account of something like that about someone you'd worked with for three decades.
Paterno took it seriously enough that he called athletic director Tim Curley to his home the next day, a Sunday no less, to share the information. And then?
Unless Paterno left some important details of his own behavior out of his statement, he did nothing. He didn't call the police, or make sure that Curley did.
That's according to Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan. At a Monday press conference, Noonan called this "a case about children who have had their innocence stolen from them, in a culture that did nothing to stop it or prevent it from happening to others."
Paterno was more than just part of the culture. He was the very center of it. He was the football coach revered because he seemed to grasp that there are more important things than winning football games. Yet, when he was given first-hand information by one of his coaches that one of his former colleagues may have committed a crime, against a child no less, in his building, what did he do?
He passed the buck to his athletic director.
While that may not be crime, at least legally, what about Paterno's moral obligation? What about the failure of the coach, the grad assistant, and everyone else who was aware of some sort of improper behavior by Sandusky in 2002, up to and including university president Graham Spanier, to alert the police, confront the accused and seek out the victim to check on his welfare?
"I understand that people are very upset and angry," Paterno's statement said, "but let's be fair and let the legal process unfold."
The time for Paterno to help set the legal process in motion was way back in March of 2002. The time for him to make up for lost time is now.
Forget his 409 wins, and forget his legacy. At a moment of crisis, he forgot about an innocent child. He wasn't the only one, but he was the only one with a statue outside the football stadium.
For that, he cannot be forgiven.
I agree 100%.ReplyDelete
His only legally binding commitment was to inform his supervisor of what had happened, which Joe Pa rightly did. Except then what happened? Penn State took away Sandusky's keys to the facility.
If you're Joe Pa, you do several things:
1. Try not to beat Sandusky's head in.
2. Inform the police, even if they've already been informed.
3. Follow up with Curley to make sure he's talked with the police.
4. Follow up with Curley again.
5. Follow up with Curley again (you see where I'm going).
Lastly, what happened to Bruce Pearl when he lied about having a recruit at his house for a barbecue? What happened to Jim Tressel for not knowing outing several of his players for their involvement in a "free ink for signed merch" deal. If you think those were bad offenses, worth being fired for, what happens to Joe Pa?
I don't know what you guys are talking about. Paterno had no direct involvement in this at all. He heard hearsay from a third party. Paterno told his AD. Whatelse was he suppose to do when he himself didn't actually witness anything? It's not like he just ignored the situation. He told someone. At that point, it's on the AD, or even on McQueary. The guy supposedly saw this taking place, and instead of stepping in and stopping it, he left the building? Those guys are way more responsible than Paterno is.ReplyDelete
Shaun - even in his presser, Joe Pa states, "It was obvious that the witness was distraught over what he saw". Now, I don't know about you, but if I see another grown man distraught enough that I can recite the details 9 years later, there was obviously an issue. Anyone who knew of this and did nothing is at fault, not just Joe Paterno.ReplyDelete
You have kids Shaun? What if it was your child that Sandusky was raping, and all Paterno did after gaining knowledge of it was tell his athletic director? I rest my case. Nice post btw Kris.ReplyDelete
Totally agree with this. It should cost him his job. He had a responsibility to go to the police, not just his athletic director.ReplyDelete
Shaun - Sandusky was a "close, personal friend" of Paterno. Had worked with and known him for years. If someone came to me with "3rd party hearsay" that this close friend of mine was involved in supposed immoral acts with a child, I would fully investigate it.ReplyDelete
Who is responsible for what occurs in or on football facilities? I don't know of a single program where the coach is. It's the job of the AD and the university president. Paterno shouldn't lose his job over this.ReplyDelete
Phillip - Lets say you walk into work and your subordinate tells you that they saw a coworker of 30 years raping a 10 year old. But, hey, I guess it's fine not to inform the police because it's not your facility, right? I suppose you just tell your boss and let the rest sort itself out, right?ReplyDelete
Why didn't the eyewitness press the matter? At no time did Joe Paterno actually see this happen. He reported it to his administrators as hearsay. Paterno grew up in the same era as my grandparents. They spoke of nothing sexual whatsoever back then. The fact that society has opened the doors of communication and speaks about everything now does not mean someone of Paterno's mature age would ever do the same. His era is certainly more modest than some could ever possibly imagine. This is a legal matter and should be dealt with legally, not through the court of public opinion.ReplyDelete
That being said, the guy who witnessed it first hand seems really fishy to me, not in that he's lying about seeing it, but who in their right freakin' mind WOULDNT report seeing that to the police? Or confront the incident in the moment? Either he was compensated and TOLD not to say anything, or he was an accomplice. Plain and simple.ReplyDelete
The real question here is, how has Paterno not already been fired? They should have shown him the door like 3 days ago.ReplyDelete
Real good post. I agree. He needs to be given his walking papers.ReplyDelete
Being reported now that he's retiring at the end of the season, which still isn't right. He shouldn't get to go out the way he wants to on his own terms. It's like the school is just letting him run the show.ReplyDelete
Charles - I agree. He shouldn't be allowed to go on HIS terms. I suppose the school could still step in and force him to resign sooner, but my guess is if they were going to do that, they would have already done it.ReplyDelete
Also, by letting him retire on his own terms, he doesn't lose any of his pension or retirement.ReplyDelete
So A.J. Green sells his jersey and gets suspended immediately but Joe Paterno let's this massive issue slide for 9 years and he gets to leave on his own terms. What a joke. Nice work, Penn State.
The man is 84 years old Todd. Are the remaining few years he has on this earth suppose to be totally ruined over something he never even saw happen? He's been the coach at Penn State for 45 years. To say he deserves his pension and retirement benefits is an understatement.ReplyDelete
Chris - So all 84 year-olds are exempt from reporting child molesters? And, because he's held the same job for 45 years, it's cool if he lets a guy hang out in the complex (yes, even as of last week Sandusky was seen in the PSU weight room) where someone witnessed him raping a child?ReplyDelete
I guess celebrity trumps reality for you, doesn't it?
Chris - You can't be serious dude. Paterno's retirement benefits and pension are absolutely 100% irrelevant in the grand scheme of this scandal. His annual salary is $1.3 million, so I don't think he's going to be slumming it once he's out of football regardless.ReplyDelete
Furthermore, his tenure at Penn State is also irrelevant given the magnitude of this whole thing. How many children's lives did he have a hand in completely ruining by not doing anything other than telling his AD?
What all you people who are supporting Paterno don't seem to grasp, is that the man is bigger than his athletic director. Hell, he's bigger than the university. He may have a "boss" he's suppose to answer to, but in all actuality, HE'S the one really running the show and calling the shots. This happened on HIS watch. He's the person who should be held most accountable, simply because he is bigger than every other person involved.
The captain should always go down with his ship, not bail and let the deckhands sink with it.
Under no circumstances should Paterno be allowed to walk away from this under his own terms. The way the university has handled the entire situation as a whole is a total joke.ReplyDelete
Bill - Agree w/ you 150%.ReplyDelete
Well they fired him. You assholes happy now?ReplyDelete
Not yet. What's the cover up story on McQueary continuing to coach even after Sandusky was still allowed to be on campus?ReplyDelete
Exactly. The stuff that's come out to this point is just the beginning...ReplyDelete