Archive for Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Paterno legacy

The stain on Joe Paterno’s legacy may have a positive impact by shining a light on the tragedy of child sexual abuse.

January 25, 2012

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Despite a lifetime of greatness, a single failure can leave a lasting stain. Consider the first paragraph of Joe Paterno’s Associated Press news obituary:

“Joe Paterno, the longtime Penn State coach who won more games than anyone in major college football but was fired amid a child sex abuse scandal that scarred his reputation for winning with integrity, died Sunday. He was 85.”

Victory. Integrity. Scandal.

Take away that one episode and even those outside the commonwealth of Pennsylvania would seek to anoint Paterno for sainthood.

Still, that final legacy could have positive results as years go on, as more people choose to inform police about the potential of sexual abuse against a child. In many cases, including Kansas, reporting is the law — and that’s what Paterno should have done in the case of his former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.

There was perhaps no better college football coach than Joe Paterno. His Nittany Lions won 409 games, played in 37 bowl games and won two national championships. More than 250 of his players went on to the National Football League.

Paterno’s death from lung cancer was sudden following his firing last November. Yet many who were close to him confided that he would likely not live long after he left the job. That’s how important the role was to him after 61 years at the school and 46 seasons as head coach.

His credo was “Success with Honor.” He often spoke about ethics in sports and made academics a priority for this players. Through 2011, Paterno had 47 academic All-Americans, the third-highest among schools in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

Yet there remains a stain.

After being informed by an assistant of Sandusky’s alleged attack against a boy in the Penn State locker room, Paterno waited a day before alerting school leaders. He did what he was supposed to do, but he did not report the incident to police. Apparently those to whom he reported the matter did not follow up in the proper manner. Police were never called.

Paterno gave just one interview — to the Washington Post — after leaving Penn State.

“I just did what I thought was best,” Paterno told the Post. “I talked to people that I thought would be, if there was a problem, that would be following up on it. …

“It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.”

Now, it’s easy for others to say he should have done more. But the national light focused on this tragedy may prompt more victims and witnesses of child sexual abuse to come forward.

This, too, could be Joe Paterno’s legacy.

As a footnote, in light of what he did for Penn State over a period of 61 years, school officials certainly should have exhibited more class in how they informed the coach that he was fired instead of simply making a brief, cold phone call.

Comments

cato_the_elder 3 years, 4 months ago

"As a footnote, in light of what he did for Penn State over a period of 61 years, school officials certainly should have exhibited more class in how they informed the coach that he was fired instead of simply making a brief, cold phone call."

Agreed. The way that Penn State officials handled Paterno's firing was disgraceful.

Aileen Dingus 3 years, 4 months ago

"but he did not report the incident to police"

This is inaccurate. Did he call 911? No. But he did bring the matter to the head of the Penn State police department.

Unlike many college campuses, "Main Campus" at Penn State is a city unto itself, with it's own zip code (University Park, PA 16802) and emergency services. The police department functions as any city police department does, with a population of over 60,000 residents to protect. If Joe Paterno had called the State College police to report a crime on campus, he would have been told to call campus police. The same campus police department that was at the time run by Gary Schultz- the man Joe Paterno told.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 4 months ago

This article clearly states he did not call the police, either campus or city. I've heard the same reported numerous times. What I have heard is that he brought it up to his superiors within the athletic department, assuming they would follow up. And it was his regret that he never followed up, allowing Sandusky to remain on campus for many years. From where do you get the information that Paterno called campus police?

Aileen Dingus 3 years, 4 months ago

From the fact that he called and met with former Penn State VP Gary Schultz, among who's duties was being the head of campus police.

Shultz and former AD Curley are the ones being charged with perjury for their allegedly false testimony to the Grand Jury. They are the ones Paterno called after Mike McQueary met with him. Paterno told them what McQ had told him, then the three of them (Curley, Schultz, McQ) discussed the allegations, although not all three together. I believe Schultz phoned McQ later on in the week. (Thursday?)

Mike4949 3 years, 4 months ago

Dazie

It is a matter of record that no one connected with the Penn State police department’s day to day operation i.e. the police chief, the police officers, detectives, and clerical staff had any knowledge of the 2002 Sandusky event. Chief of Police Harmon testified to this fact to the Grand Jury.

And Schultz had no involvement with any policing activity. He didn’t carry a gun, arrest and detain suspects, investigate crime scenes. He kept records, watched over the budget, received crime reports. This is why he was able to separate himself from any involvement in any investigation. It was not in his job description to perform any police work. And the information he received from Paterno and McQueary was never turned over to the Penn State Police nor Children’s Protective Services.

The proper authority? The head of police? No way!

Aileen Dingus 3 years, 4 months ago

You're wrong, Mike, but I don't know how to convince you. I appreciate your input.

theme1060 3 years, 4 months ago

http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/Presentment.pdf

Bottom of page 8 in the Grand Jurry report, Shutlz testified that he was called to a meeting with Curkey and Paterno. Schultz, despite the title in the report oversees the U-Park police force, which is the legitimate police force on U-Park campus. http://www.police.psu.edu/aboutus/ ==>Click on "state statute" The home page link for this site is http://www.police.psu.edu/

streetman 3 years, 4 months ago

Sad that Joe Paterno got more grief over not doing more to bring a case of child sexaul abuse to light than did the Catholic church leaders who knew about so many of its priests who made careers out of committing the crime and did nothing for decades. And are still in denial, for the most part.

oakfarm 3 years, 4 months ago

Paterno followed university policy, as set by the Trustees. He was not a witness to a crime and even the assistant admitted he did not tell Paterno exactly what he saw. Paterno was fired because the board was embarrassed by the behavior of one of Joe's former assistants and by the fact that the Board had a weak policy in place to report misbehavior. Had it been a crime, why did the assistant neither report it to the police or be held accountable for not "doing enough". Even the grand jury said that Paterno did nothing wrong. The idea of being considered a criminal for him admitting he wished he had done more, or that he SHOULD have done more is ludicrous. You can't even make a case for what he did not do that seems to anger everyone. What more should he have done? "More" is not an answer.

jaywalker 3 years, 4 months ago

I don't believe Paterno did anything criminal. However, a man who has an iron-grip on everything PSU football and with there being more than one incident, I can't dismiss his lack of action in something so heinous. He's far from the only one to carry the blame for this scandal, but then again to blame the Board for 'weak policy' or inaction on their own is to ignore the Joe Pa culture that was in place: the football program was HIS baby, top to bottom and everywhere it connected; his control over everything is legendary. There's no way he didn't know every detail of every incident or rumor, and Sandusky's retention was his call alone.

All that said, I feel his decades of service far outweigh his lapses in judgement. He did indescribable amounts of good for the college, city, state, and Big Ten. RIP, Joe Pa.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 4 months ago

More? He should have called the police. And no, calling the VP of the university does not constitute calling the police. And he should have followed up.
The assistant has not been charged because as a witness, he receives certain protections. For gosh sakes, we're talking about a grown man having sex with young boys in the shower and then being allowed to be on campus for a decade. And not just allowed on campus, encouraged to be around young boys through the organization he worked at. The actions of Paterno did not rise to the level of being criminal. He was never charged with a crime. But his behavior was despicable. I guess that and 400 wins gets you put on some pedestal.

jaywalker 3 years, 4 months ago

McQueary's hardly ever mentioned? Glad to see you're awake now, Mr. Van Winkle, but his name has been sallied around all over this.
And nobody has said it's "all JoePa's" fault. Nobody.

Jean Robart 3 years, 3 months ago

You are so right jhawkinsf. He still had the obligation to follow through on the report he made to his superiors in the athletic department. Or maybe he did not have any faith in the campus cops. Should have gone to city authorities, rather than depending on anybody else to do it.

Aileen Dingus 3 years, 4 months ago

As much as it pains me that this whole situation even HAPPENED, I do agree with the editorialist in that there will be some good things that come out of it.

1) RAINN (http://www.rainn.org/) has received over $525,000 in donations just since the story broke in November.

2) Penn State will start a Center for Protection of Children at the university's Hershey Medical Center, in part with proceeds from the upcoming bowl game. (http://www.centredaily.com/2011/12/06/3011175/penn-state-plans-to-found-center.html)

3) Colleges and universities around the country, including KU, have reassessed their reporting procedures and polices, especially in regards to crimes against children.

To some, I'm sure all of this will come across as "locking the barn door after the horse is stolen," but if we aren't jarred in to action from this- what will it take?

Mike4949 3 years, 4 months ago

To Dazie

Your response was a little "dazed."

You: "...You're wrong, Mike, but I don't know how to convince you."

You made your originally post not knowing the facts. That is why you "...don't know how to convice (me)." I corrected you with facts as revealed by court testimony.

Be a big girl now and specifically point out what you specifically found "WRONG" in my post. To do anything less is to devalue, unauthenticate your retort. It also points out a life long problem you've possessed. That being the instant insecurity you feel in not being "right." Therefore you accuse others, who disagree with you, as always being in the wrong.

Dazie, let's try this again. How else can you break out of this personal self destructive cycle?

jaywalker 3 years, 4 months ago

Seeing you have a posting history that spans the life of this one string, the above is unbelievably immature an uncalled for. It's one thing to ask someone to cite exactly where they believe you're wrong, but to do so like this when you have no history with Dazie screams to some major league issues you're holding onto, pal. Reads like a "self destructive cycle."

Grendel 3 years, 4 months ago

Mike, you showed some promise, but I can only give you 1 out of 10 for the trolling. You debated Dazie on some facts, but then jumped straight into the personal stuff that showed you were only after her because of something more personal.

Played your cards too quickly. Need to work on that.

Mike4949 3 years, 4 months ago

To Grendel and to Jaywalker

You are both right! I stand corrected. My apology to Dazie.

Mike4949 3 years, 4 months ago

To Grendel and to Jaywalker

You are both right! I stand corrected. My apology to Dazie.

oakfarm 3 years, 4 months ago

JHawkins says: "More? He should have called the police. And no, calling the VP of the university does not constitute calling the police. And he should have followed up. The assistant has not been charged because as a witness, he receives certain protections."

You are illogical if not dead wrong on several counts. First, if this was a crime, the assistant should have called the police. Second, the assistant did not report a crime, not to Paterno and not to the police. The report Paterno received was 'horseplay', not rape. How can the assistant then get 'protection' as a 'witness' when he did not report anything to the police and the 'evidence' he gave to Paterno was incomplete at best.

The entire logic of the firings is crazy: The assistant who witnessed the 'crime' says nothing to the police and he gets lionized (no pun intended). Paterno followed Board procedure and gets fired by the Board. The VP and AD who heard from Paterno get indicted for perjury but are not fired by the Board. Their boss -- the present -- does get fired. The Board fires Paterno (for following their rules and, as they admit, for doing nothing wrong) and the president (for being responsible) and washes their hands of blame, while acknowledging that they knew of the condition long ago and assuming no responsibility. Then they go on a massive PR campaign, claiming 'transparency' while fighting release of minutes of their own meetings.

The entire Board or at least all who voted to terminate Paterno need to resign. Paterno's firing needs to be rescinded posthumously, and the stadium needs to be named after him.

jaywalker 3 years, 4 months ago

Hoooonk! Thanks for playing! The way Paterno was fired was classless, but other than that it was more than called for. That was HIS program; now, that sort of classification is bandied about all the time and often I don't agree with it. But at State College it was Joe Pa's show, top to bottom, inside out. There wasn't anything he didn't know. Even if that wasn't true, the stigma that would ride with him to every single game would have simply served as fodder for broadcasters and media; they had little choice but to cut ties for the good of the university.

theme1060 3 years, 4 months ago

theme1060(anonymous)replies…

http://online.wsj.com/public/resource...

Bottom of page 8 in the Grand Jurry report, Shutlz testified that he was called to a meeting with Curley and Paterno. Schultz, despite the title in the report oversees the U-Park police force, which is the legitimate police force on U-Park campus. http://www.police.psu.edu/aboutus/ ==>Click on "state statute" The home page link for this site is http://www.police.psu.edu/

Mike4949 3 years, 4 months ago

Yes, administratively Schultz's primary responsibility was fiscal as regards the police department. His role was as an accountant.

But he had no responsibilty, nor any involvement in the day to day function of the police force. And JoePa knew this.

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