The college football season starts in earnest this weekend and buried in the news is that Penn State plans on honoring their former head coach Joe Paterno on September 17th which would be the 50th anniversary of his start in college football.
Paterno had an amazing run as head football coach at Penn State where he had more wins than any other coach in college football history. He grew the Nittany Lions to a powerhouse of B1G 10 football; yet one guy tarnished the whole thing, Jerry Sandusky.
Numerous reports state that the young men involved with Jerry Sandusky reported the abuse to Paterno; yet it seems the head coach did nothing. Some say that he did pull Sandusky aside and tell him to stop, yet the abuse continued. In all 6 Penn State coaches witnessed and reported to their head coach the sexual abuse which Sandusky was doing. Some reports say that Paterno talked to Sandusky and told him to stop. The man needed help, the boys needed help, pulling someone aside was not enough. Apparently winning football games was more important.
I am still curious as to why none of these coaches did anything, other than reporting it to Paterno. Why didn’t they report Sandusky to the authorities? Were they afraid of losing their jobs? Since when is doing the right thing less important than football; even Penn State football.
I wonder where the University’s Title IX office was while all this is happening. A law passed in 1972 which originally protected women from discrimination at any institution that receives federal funding. The law was clarified in the 80’s to include “any sexual misconduct on college and university campuses including rape and sexual misconduct. Sexual misconduct is unwelcome conduct, based on sex or on gender stereotypes.” (US department of Education/ Title IX)
Paterno screwed up, he let those young boys down, he let the team down, the University down. But Penn State is doing an even bigger disservice to those boys and to anyone who is a victim of sexual assault. Honoring a person who covered up a sex crime is not the right thing to do. Some will say that Paterno didn’t do anything wrong; why take away all of the great things he did because of just 1 or 2 or 6 cases of sexual abuse? Because people’s lives are ruined that’s why.
Yes Paterno screwed up, but the University is screwing up even more by honoring someone who stood on the sidelines and didn’t say anything.