I’ve never been a Penn State fan and have paid little attention to Penn State’s record. Anytime I wanted to know how Penn State did in a game, I asked my husband. When the news broke this past weekend about Jerry Sandusky sexually abusing young boys, I was appalled, saddened, and angered. Sandusky was the assistant coach to Penn State until 1999 when he took early retirement.
During Sandusky’s time at Penn State, he started a program for at risk children, The Second Mile. The children were from unstable homes or single parent homes. These are the type of children pedophiles prey on. They are taken under the wing of the pedophile where they are given attention and made to feel important. Soon the young boys’ lives are abruptly compromised when the pedophile begins to touch them inappropriately. Apparently, in 2002, this is what one graduate student witnessed Sandusky do in a shower with a young boy inside the Lasch Football Building located on the University Park campus.
Terribly distraught over what he witnessed the graduate student turned to Coach Joe Paterno and in turn Paterno told his supervisors, Gary Schultz (Senior VP of Finance & Business) and to Tom Curley (Athletic Coach); Paterno was not legally obligated to do anything further. Schultz and Curley stated in the Grand Jury report that they handled the matter by telling Sandusky he can no longer bring children on the University Park campus. Penn State’s President, Graham Spanier, was also made aware of the situation and that it was taken care of. No report was made to the University Park Police, PA State Police, or state and local child services.
So, should have Joe Paterno done more when he realized that the “powers that be” was going to sweep it under the rug and go on like it never happened? In my opinion, this is the “good ole’ boy network” at its best.
Joe Paterno, known as JoePa to most Penn State fans, is a sports icon. He has been Penn State’s head coach since 1966. He was recently named as the winningest Division I coach in NCAA history. He has been a role model for all who played for him, still playing and for young boys who hope to play for Penn State Nittany Lions. So, how can something so scandalous be connected to such an icon and possibly be remembered most for what he didn’t do?
For me, Joe Paterno should have done more. This wasn’t about winning a college bowl game or press conferences stating how a game could have/should have been played better. This was and is about children at the hands of a man (well known to Paterno) who preyed on the most vulnerable. This is about a situation that could have and should have been stopped a lot sooner, which would have prevented others from becoming victims.
Paterno had the opportunity to do something that was bigger than winning seasonal football games and bowl games. He could have saved young boys from the hands of a pedophile. He could have saved young boys from feeling uncomfortable when a man they looked up to touched them inappropriately. In my opinion, that is what would have made Paterno a REAL hero and role model.