Joe Paterno and Penn State’s fall from grace
Just a few weeks ago, Penn State’s Joe Paterno was one of American college football’s most beloved coaches. With more than 400 wins under his belt over a half-century long career, it seemed like a sure bet that JoePa would retire with an impeccable record. However, all that changed when child abuse allegations involving his former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky surfaced.
The scandal soon engulfed the Penn State football program and beyond. Even though Sandusky retired as assistant coach in 1999, he continued to be closely associated with Penn State and used the college facilities with his charity for at-risk youth, The Second Mile.
In 2002, Mike McQueary, then a graduate assistant coach, walked in on Sandusky sexually assaulting a boy in the locker rooms at Penn State. McQueary reported the incident to Paterno, who reported it in turn to the administrator up the chain of command. But neither men followed up to make sure the charges were properly lodged with the police. Sandusky went on to abuse other boys before he was finally arrested on 5 Nov, 2011. The grand jury indictment of Sandusky alleges 40 counts of sex crimes against young boys and identified 8 victims.
Even though Paterno did not break any laws, the Penn State board of trustees fired him on 9 Nov. Penn students marched in a show of support for their beloved JoePa. But beyond the circle of die-hard supporters, Paterno’s reputation has been irrevocably besmirched by the fact that he could have stopped a predator who preyed on children, but he did not do enough.