Late Wednesday night, Chairman of the Penn State Board of Trustees, Steve A. Garban, delivered some shocking news to students, reporters, and all others.
“The Board of Trusties and Graham Spanier have decided that effective immediately, Dr. Spanier is no longer the president of the University.”
Silence struck the conference room, with no emotions displayed. Then, Garban followed by announcing:
“In addition, Joe Paterno is no longer the head football coach, effective immediately.”
Gasps. Screams. Shock on every single person’s face in the room. What had he just said?
“These decisions were made after careful deliberation, and in the best interest of the University as a whole.”
All these decisions, relating to the charges against former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky, came extremely fast. Joe Paterno, the longest tenured, winningest coach in college football history, was leaving in disgrace.
People are asking why Paterno would be at fault for an assistant coach’s crimes. The reason he is being held accountable is because ten years ago, a graduate student approached Paterno, saying that he saw Coach Sandusky sexually assaulting a young boy in the showers. Paterno immediately reported the situation to the Athletic Director. The facts beyond this point are still under investigation, however the Athletic Director and Vice President have both been let go. The Board says that Paterno should have, and is actually legally obligated, to follow up on the report and make sure justice is served.
I see it like this: The moment that a university, business, or any group is associated with crimes as disgusting and inhumane as the sexual abuse and molestation of children, the involved party must act swiftly and effectively to remove all potentially involved members. The issue I have is that people are saying that Paterno’s reputation should be a factor in the decision of firing him. EIGHT BOYS HAVE BEEN SEXUALLY ASSAULTED, the legacy that a coach has holds no significance in a situation like this.
It’s sad to see such a great coach leave like this, but there was no other way the situation could be handled. In these types of situations, the University has to restart their programs and try to rebuild their reputation. The first step towards rebuilding, is new people in charge. Joe Paterno will always be remembered as one of the greatest figures in college football history, and yet this stigma will always be associated with his legacy.