Tag: Joe Paterno
For way too many months now, the Penn State Nittany Lions football program has been under the scrutiny of the NCAA and the nation. Truth is that once the reports flourished and the investigation kept on revealing the school’s incompetence to protect children who were been sexually abused in the school campus, Penn State simply became synonymous with everything that is wrong with the win-at-all-cost mentality. At the end of the day, fans, students, graduates, the community build around Penn State and it’s stellar football program had to acknowledge that what had happened was a tragedy, that the fact that Jerry Sandusky was able to sexually abuse kids over and over again in a 15-year- period was simply unacceptable.
Whether you agree with the severity of the sanctions imposed by the NCAA to Penn State, that’s a whole different issue. What nobody could really argue is that if this went along for so long an nobody really did anything to protect those kids, the blame had to go up the latter into the highest hierarchy of the school and it’s football program. There is simply no excuse for the lack of action, for the fact that nobody went on to call the police, just because they didn’t want to get the wrong kind of attention from the press. And this is why I believe that they did get the punishment they deserved.
But this is also why I could understand how meaningful their last week’s win over Navy was for Penn State. After all, the Nittany Lions hadn’t come off the field with a wince since last Nov. 19 at Ohio State. That was just a few days after aassistant coach Jerry Sandusky was charged with child-sex abuse and the late Joe Paterno was fired. That Nittany Lions new had coach Bill O’Brien was hired in January as Paterno’s replacement, but he knew well that the best part was yet to come. It would be very hard to rebuild this team, both mentally and physically. Not only because of the sanctions but because a deep change in the mentality of the team had to be made.
Then came July and the NCAA went on to give them some of the harshest penalties we’ve ever seen in collegiate sports. The school was forced to vacate all its wins since 1998, so technically that 20-14 victory against the Buckeyes didn’t even count. The Nittany Lions’ last official win was 35-10 against Wisconsin on Nov. 22, 1997. Now the NCAA president Mark Emmert has said that he is really pleased with the way the team has been dealing with the sanctions. “What’s not getting attention is the athletic-integrity agreement that Penn State signed and is taking very seriously,” he said in a press conference in Detroit this week. “We have Sen. George Mitchell involved in overseeing it, and there is no question of his credentials. That’s the part that is going to create serious change in the Penn State culture(…) We’re also in the process of collecting the $60 million fine and distributing to groups that work against child sexual abuse.” It’s hard to say what is it going to take to get a clean slate for Penn State. All we can say is that they have a long uphill way to go.
Things at Penn State University are never going to be the same. We are still far away from really finding out how much of a wake is going to be left behind the Jerry Sandusky’s crimes. At the end of the line Sandusky committed heinous crimes against children in the Penn State football facilities and the administration and the head of the coaching staff didn’t report this abuses, that kept on happening for over a decade, to avoid bad publicity. Now, Sandusky has been convicted and found guilty and he’s going to spend the rest of his life in jail. But the legacy of Joe Paterno has been severly damaged and on the wake of the Freeh Report, the town has taken two very antagonist sides. On the one side, some football fans and students will like to cut Joe Paterno some slack and try to believe that he did what he was required of him. Then again, considering Paterno never called the Police and limit his actions to protect these abused children to report this to his bosses.
And this is where it gets tricky. On the one side Joe Paterno had become the soul and body of the football team, he was the Penn State Football Program, he had been there longer than anybody else, he had more power than anybody else; the 85-year-old head coach had been the head coach since 1950. He’s career had been filled with highlights and perseverance. But this all came folding down when the former FBI director released the finding in his 8-month investigation of the Jerry Sandusky children sex abuses. The reported said that Penn State had failed to protect children and he went on to affirm that Paterno had not done what it needed. That he, upon himself, had enough authority within the school’s power structure to put an end to Sandusky’s pernicious actions. And that he had ultimately allowed this to happen for more then a decade.
Administrators and the Board of Trustees of Penn State University have been fervently discussing what to do with the Joe Paterno Statue that sits in front of the Beaver Stadium. On the one hand they realize that whatever decision they make, whether to take it down, move it somewhere else, or leave it where it is, is going to be more than a decorative decision. Ultimately this is a decision that will be very symbolic of the schools decision to move forward on this issue, and it’s institutional effort to keep this from ever happening again. The board is also concerned on how their decision will be interpreted by the NCAA, which has come out as recently as last week to say that they could go ahead and give the school the “death penalty” for what they consider the school’s lack of institutional control.
Some fans believe that the statue stands for all the good the Paterno did over his 60-year-old career ahead of the program and that it should stand. Those who feel deeper for the victims want to eradicate any cult and devotion left for the octogenarian coach who failed to put an end to the sexual abuse of children by Sandusky. At the end, the decision that Rodney Erikson makes could not be more political.
After more than two years of investigation and a couple of weeks of delibery a Grand Jury convicted Jerry Sandusky of sexually assaulting 10 boys over 15 years. In 2009, a three-year investigation explored allegations of Sandusky having inappropriate contact with a 15-year-old boy over the course of four years, beginning when the boy was ten years old. The boy’s parents reported the incident to police in 2009. In the course of the investigation the prosecutors identified eight different boys that had been singled out for sexual advances or sexual assaults by Sandusky. All the assaults happened between 1994 and 2009.
The jury consisted of 7 women and five men, nine of it’s individuals with some sort of connection to Penn State University, were Sandusky worked for many years as a defensive coach under Hall of Fame Football coach, Joe Paterno. It took the jury more than 20 hours over a span of two days to reach a decision, but at the end, Sandusky was found guilty on 45 of 48 counts and will most likely spend the rest of his life in jail. The charges carry a minimum 60-year sentence and 442 years at maximum. According to reports, Sandusky showed little emotion as the verdict was read to him on Friday. Judge John Cleland revoked his bail and ordered that he be taken to the county jail to await sentencing in about three months. At least for now, the 68-year-old Sandusky will be set-aside in solitary confinement.
There was a lot of tension in the courtroom during the reading of the sentence. One of the victims, the man who is known in court papers as Victim #6 broke down in tears when he heard the verdicts. The man, now 25, testified that Sandusky called himself the “tickle monster” in a shower assault. He declined to comment to a reporter afterward, but his mother said: “Nobody wins. We’ve all lost.” As soon as the courtroom was adjourned, one could easily hear the cheering from a group of a few hundred of people gathered outside the courthouse as they took knowledge that Sandusky had been convicted.
It is still unclear how this will play out to the other people that have been involved in this hearing. Let’s not forget that there is a lot more to this story. In 2002 assistant coach Mike McQueary, then a Penn State graduate assistant, said he walked in on Sandusky anally raping a ten-year-old boy in the football locker rooms. The next day, after talking about the incident to his father, McQueary reported the incident to Joe Paterno, his immediate supervisor. Paterno then followed up and informed Penn State athletic director Tim Curley.
Ultimately, it is alleged, the only actions Curley and senior vice president for finance and business Gary Schultz (who oversaw the Penn State police department) took was to bar Sandusky from bringing children to the football building and take away his keys to the locker room. Rumor has it that these actions were approved by school president Graham Spanier. No one called the police, not McQueary, not Paterno, not Curley, not even when this reached the president of the school.
The Nittany Lions head coach, Joe Paterno, has officially announced that he will retire at the end of the season. At 84 years old, Paterno is an invaluable institution on its own at Penn State. He has coached the Nittany Lions since 1966 and has successfully held onto the post for 62 consecutive seasons. That’s the most seasons for any coach at any university. At an age at which most of us could probably only work our way out of the couch, Paterno still takes part of every practice and every game in what is perhaps one of the most demanding amateur leagues in the world.
The records support what many could call a extremely successful career. On November 6, 2010, Paterno recorded his 400th career victory with a 35–21 victory over Northwestern. Facing a 21–0 deficit, Penn State scored 35 unanswered points, tying Paterno’s largest comeback victory as a coach. On October 29, 2011 Paterno passed Eddie Robinson to become the winningest head coach in Division I college football. He still trails the leader, John Gagliardi of Division III Saint John’s University, by 73 wins. But at 84-years-old, he has decided to call it quits.
And here is the catch. Paterno is not leaving Penn State because he just had too much of football or because he got tired of working, or quite simply because he was ready to take a break and move on with his life. The downfall, if you will, is that Paterno is taking part of the blame for what his former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, has allegedly done: sexually abuse up to 8. Sandusky is currently facing charges for 40 criminal counts of molesting eight young boys between 1994 and 2009 through his charitable foundation for at-risk youths, The Second Mile.
A very upset Paterno said that perhaps he hadn’t done enough to stop Sandusky. That’s probably what hurts him most, knowing that by not taking severe action, by not taking full measures, Sandusky kept on abusing children. Rumor has it, Sandusky sodomized a 10-year-old boy at the Penn State Stadium bathrooms. And that was just too much.
As soon as he announced his retirement he also said that the whole thing was a tragedy, and that with the benefit of hindsight, he realized now that he could have done much more. “I am absolutely devastated by the developments in this case. I grieve for the children and their families, and I pray for their comfort and relief. I have come to work every day for the last 61 years with one clear goal in mind: To serve the best interests of this university and the young men who have been entrusted to my care. I have the same goal today.”
It’s still uncertain if the board of trustees of Penn State will take further action. Although he has announced his retirement, it has also been announced that a commission has been set upon the School to investigate the issue. If reports prove that Paterno in fact failed to report of known abuses by his staff, he might be fired before the end of the season. Paterno will pass Amos Alonzo Stagg for the most Division I games coached in history (both tied at 548) if he coaches against Nebraska this weekend.