Penn State Scandal: Handling of Jerry Sandusky Only Adds to Joe Paterno Legend

Josh MartinNBA Lead WriterNovember 5, 2011

STATE COLLEGE, PA - SEPTEMBER 10:  Head coach Joe Paterno talks with the media following thier 27-11 loss to the Alabama Crimson Tide at Beaver Stadium on September 10, 2011 in State College, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

As devastating as the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal has been to Penn State and the entire Happy Valley community, the handling of this entire situation may, in fact, be a boon to the already sterling legacy of Joe Paterno.

According to the Patriot-News, the Hall of Fame coach of the Nittany Lions will not be charged with any wrongdoing in the case, and will serve as a witness for the prosecution in trial.

If anything, it would have been a surprise to see charges brought against JoePa in all this; after all, it was Paterno who reported Sandusky's abuse to athletic director Tim Curley after hearing from a graduate assistant on the football team that Sandusky had sexually assaulted an underage boy in the football locker room back in 2002.

Instead, it is the AD Curley who will stand trial, along with Sandusky, who served as Penn State's defensive coordinator between 1969 and 1999, and Gary Schultz, a vice president at the university. Sandusky will face 40 counts of child sex crimes, while Curley and Schultz are charged with perjury and failure to report a crime.

Meanwhile, Paterno deserves a round of applause, however somber, for doing the right thing. Too often we have all seen and heard about coaches at big-time programs across the country making poor choices—from Jim Tressel failing to report NCAA violations by his Buckeye players, to Oregon's Chip Kelly paying a "recruiting consultant" for questionable services, to Brian Kelly and Lane Kiffin deciding not to discipline their players for questionable conduct off the field at Notre Dame and SC, respectively.

Luckily for those out there who aren't completely jaded about college football, Paterno demonstrated there are still at least some good people left among the adults in this beleaguered sport—that the young people who put their bodies on the line every Saturday aren't being led astray everywhere.

At the very heart of one of America's most sacred pastimes, the 84-year-old Joe Paterno—the most successful coach in Division I football history—still has a firm grasp on right and wrong, and that will hopefully be an attribute and lesson he continues passing along till the day he finally decides to call it career.


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