“Success without honor is an unseasoned dish; it will satisfy your hunger, but it won’t taste good”
“I am absolutely devastated by the developments in this case, I grieve for the children and their families, and I pray for their comfort and relief….With the benefit of hindsight I wish I had done more.” Joe Paterno
I was genuinely shocked when I heard at the allegations that rocked State College Pennsylvania Sunday. Long time Penn State Defensive Coordinator, Coach Jerry Sandusky was arrested on multiple child sexual abuse charges. The arrest came years after the first accusations which date back to 1994 but were most egregiously displayed when a graduate assistant told Paterno of Sandusky raping a child in the shower. The charges are heinous involving the forcible sodomy of at least nine young boys by Sandusky. One of the victim’s mothers even reported the crime against her son to the local police in 1998 and the police heard on a tapped phone Sandusky tell the woman “I understand. I was wrong. I wish I could get forgiveness. I know I won’t get it from you. I wish I were dead.”
Paterno may have followed the letter of the law by telling the Athletic Director about the incident, but his failure to do more while not technically criminal made him complicit in the rape of more victims bySandusky. However one has to wonder why not a soul acted to stopSanduskyin the act when they observed the rapes being committed or reported any of the incidents to the police. I can’t figure out what any of them were thinking.
The inaction of McQueary, Paterno, Athletic Director Tim Curley and University Vice President Gary Schultz to take action when they had credible evidence of a friend and former colleague committing sexual assault against children in their own department’s showers. This fact alone is shocking as no one went running to stop the act when they saw it or followed up after reporting it to their immediate superior. No one took the initiative to immediately call the police, any police. Instead knowing thatSanduskyconducted in such a manner they allowed themselves to be associated with him and his charity nine years until he was arrested. Curley and Schultz have been charged in regard to their involvement in the cover up.
While they followed the letter of Pennsylvania’s ambiguous sexual assault reporting law they sacrificed their personal honor and everything that Coach Paterno and the institution had publicly espoused throughout his career. They risked the lives of more children at the hands of a serial sexual abuser who had nearly unlimited access to children through his well thought of charity. It was inexcusable and unconscionable dereliction of duty.
What happened to move a bureaucracy to protect a criminal rather than do anything to stop him? What led a coach who had the motto “to serve the best interests of this university and the young men who have been entrusted to my care” to pass the buck and not follow up. Hat happened to a coach who said “Success without honor is an unseasoned dish; it will satisfy your hunger, but it won’t taste good” to surrender his honor by not ensuring that the charges were fully investigated?
I sincerely cannot imagine the process of bureaucratic indifference that allowed a serial child rapist to remain a well respected public citizen. I cannot imagine a leader as Joe Paterno to not act in real time to stop this from happening. But he did. For a few hours it seemed that despite this he would be allowed to remain as head coach by announcing that he would retire at the end of the season and then going off to run a practice as if football was all that mattered. It was as if he did not understand how serious this was. But just a few minutes ago it was announced that the University Board of Trustees had fired the legendary coach along with University President Graham Spanier. It had to be done. Paterno should have resigned immediately upon the announcement of the Grand Jury investigation.
But why did it take so long? The Grand Jury had this for three years and it didn’t come out until after he passed Grambling State University Coach Eddie Robinson with 409 wins.
Joe Paterno and those around him could have prevented this nearly a decade ago. But for whatever reason a man that many saw as an icon of integrity had that legacy destroyed in a nearly cataclysmic fashion. Now there are students protesting the firing and police are gathering in riot gear. I think that says a lot about our values. To some saving a football icon is more important than what the legend allowed to happen on his watch. It seems that to some football matters more than honor or morality.
Say it ain’t so Joe, say it ain’t so….