Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Joe Paterno To Step Down After Season In Wake Of Penn State Sex Abuse Scandal

Joe Paterno, the storied coach of the Penn State football team, will be announcing his retirement at the end of the season in wake of the sex abuse scandal involving his former defensive coach, Jerry Sandusky.
The person says Paterno will announce his retirement later Wednesday.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the decision has yet to be announced.

Paterno’s support among the Penn State board of trustees was described as “eroding” Tuesday, threatening to end the 84-year-old coach’s career amid a child sex-abuse scandal involving a former assistant and one-time heir apparent.

Paterno’s son, Scott, said his father hasn’t spoken with Penn State officials or trustees about stepping down. Addressing reporters outside his father’s house, he said Joe Paterno plans to not only coach in Saturday’s game against Nebraska, but for the long haul.
I'm sorry, but that's just insufficient. Paterno knew about the abuse, and he and the university went to great lengths to keep the matter private when law enforcement should have been involved the moment that another coach found Sandusky abusing a child in a Penn state athletic facility.

Everyone involved in the decision-making process at the university put the university's football program ahead of the interests of the children who were being abused by Sandusky. They barred Sandusky from bringing children on campus, as though that was sufficient; it wasn't. Officials looked the other way, and two of them are facing charges relating to the abuse.

People knew about the abuse, and left it to university officials to police the matter, but they instead did nothing. The university would say that it was complying with the letter of the law, which didn't require informing law enforcement, but that's quite besides the point. What about the morality and ethical responsibility to act to inform law enforcement of the potential abuse? Everyone looked the other way and thought the matter was closed, even as the abuse continued.

In some respects, the university handled matters in the same fashion as the Catholic Church has done in its own sex abuse scandals. It claimed to have acted according to the letter of the law, and yet the abuses continued for decades. The Church allowed children to be abused under its watch and it violated its trust with its parishioners.

The same thing has happened with Penn State; the university violated its trust with the public.

Yet, there's some on campus who think that Paterno shouldn't be forced to resign, be fired, or considered for possible charges. They think that Paterno has done nothing wrong.

That's just not true either. He looked the other way as the university went ahead and made a deal with Sandusky to stop bringing children from his charitable project on campus, but that didn't address the abuse that had been discovered. He put the football program ahead of the right thing to do.

And in that light, Paterno failed himself, his football program, the university, and the community at large.

No comments: