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Penn State legend’s era comes to an end

November 11, 2011

 

For the past several days Penn State has been a lightning rod for controversy after former football coach Jerry Sandusky was indicted on multiple counts of child abuse.  The long tenured defensive coordinator was arrested on charges of molesting at least 8 children between 1994 and 2009. As of Wednesday, the University fired long time head football coach Joe Paterno and school president Graham Spanier.  The dismissal was a shock to many; Paterno had just announced that his 46th season as head coach would be his last.  The university’s decision sent the campus into an uproar.  Students and alumni gathered to protest on campus as well as through social networks to show their displeasure.  In Paterno’s resignation statement, he referred to the scandal as “one of the great sorrows of my life…”

In 2002, a graduate assistant notified the former head coach after witnessing Sandusky molesting a boy in the shower.  Paterno immediately notified Athletic Director Tim Curley, but failed to notify authorities.  The situation was basically swept under the rug.  Sandusky was banned from having youth sports camps on campus and was no longer allowed to bring children to campus facilities.  And yet, no one believed Sandusky was enough of a hazard to youth to call the police?  Even after informing his superiors, Paterno never bothered to follow up on the situation, or wonder why nothing was done.  I guess the hectic college football schedule kept the iconic coach from further inquiries.  For years after being caught having intercourse with a minor, Sandusky was still allowed access to Penn State’s football facilities.  According to published reports, Sandusky worked out in Penn State’s weight room as late as last week.

Joe Paterno, forever a Penn State legend, was not fired for what he did do, but what he didn’t do.  Yes he made the right decision to notify the Athletic Director, but child abuse is a situation that should have never been kept “in-house.”  The fact that Sandusky was still allowed to have access to the facilities was severe negligence by Paterno.  This forced Penn State University to make a very tough decision, the right decision.  Unfortunately, the media circus surrounding the scandal has distracted us from what is most important, the victims.  Having to wait over a decade for justice to finally be served must be an extremely traumatic experience for the victims and their families.  No man should be immune to injustice, regardless of status.  The winningest coach in college football history found that out the hard way…

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