Paterno leaves tainted legacy

December 15, 2011



Associate Editor


Pennsylvania State University’s football program has been under the radar in the last month due to child molestation accusations. After a grand jury hearing, assistant football coach to Joe Paterno for 31 years, Jerry Sandusky was indicted on 52 counts of various forms of sexual abuse against 10 minors.


Paterno, legendary head football coach for 46 years, with two national championships underneath his belt, decided to pass up authorities and only tell Tim Curley, the athletic director. Paterno’s knowledge of this scandal lived on, and he sat by while Sandusky continued to help run his charity for at-risk children in the State College area.


Graham Spanier, Penn State’s president, also had been given information about allegations and failed to alert authorities. He merely banned Sandusky from bringing minors on campus, which did not stop Sandusky. He continued to hold his overnight football camps on campus for prospective players and younger football players getting to know the game.


Sandusky is the main person at fault in this situation, but Paterno should have taken action. My bet is that he now regrets not saying something when he had the opportunity.


Paterno’s otherwise bright career spanning for 45 years has been dimmed in the eyes of many fans. Many are now overlooking his lifetime of accomplishments.His name was erased from the Big 10 Championship Trophy, and he was taken out of consideration for the Presidential Medal of Freedom, among many other honors stripped from his face and name.


Paterno was known for his players graduating and his motto of “Success With Honor.” He set the record for winning 409 Division I football games. So why did he fail himself, his school and his players by going back on this motto and not doing something about this scandal?


He should have at least fired Sandusky when he had the chance, rather than try to cover up something as serious as accusations ofchild molestation. In his defense, Paterno at least told the person who was in charge of Sandusky’s job and the entire athletics department. That is better than keeping the budding scandal to himself.


In the end, Paterno was most likely just looking out for the reputation of his school, team, staff and charity that he and Sandusky built together, but I believe this is not a valid excuse. I could go back and forth all day, but in the end, childrenmay have been getting molested.


Not just one or two, but at least eight from the 1960s to the present. This is absolutely unacceptable, the amount of trauma Sandusky may have caused in these poor boy’s lives. Paterno being the man that he is, should have recognized it and continued to put justice in his reign of “Success With Honor.”


Many students and football lovers alike feel the need to defend the living legend, “JoePa,” because of his many years of service and winning seasons for the university. They see this scandal as out of his hands and over his head, but we cannot deny the truth. It was right in front of his face and Paterno failed to question Sandusky on these allegations.


The only reason Paterno’s name is showing up more, than say, Curley’s name is because of Paterno’s reputation amongst student and faculty. Paterno’s accomplishments for Penn State have been plentiful, so when one of the undoubtedly most loved legends on campus was asked to leave, his supporters were shocked and hurt by the image they had looked up to for so long.


Rebecca Spence is a junior journalism and speech communication major from Cypress, Texas, who serves as associate editor for The Tech Talk. Email comments to res022@latech.


One Response to Paterno leaves tainted legacy

  1. Peg Rop and Jean Schmidt Reply

    December 17, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    Thanks for the great writeup Rebecca. You covered both sides of the story and came up with the best moral and ethical decision. Our children/people need to be protected more than any football legacy or personal gain. Well written!

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