Everyone should be sufficiently filled in by now on the current scandal going on at Penn State University. In case you're not, the short story is that a former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, has been caught numerous times sexually assaulting children, both on and off campus. The current imbroglio is rolling because a recent grand jury investigation has determined that the actions occurred not just on campus, but in the football facilities. A graduate assistant saw the act and immediately went and told his boss—head coach Joe Paterno.
Paterno decided that the most effective course of action would be to report the issue to the athletic director, Tim Curley. Curley then reported the case to Gary Schultz, the Senior Vice President for Finance and Business. An investigation ensued and, by the end of the month, Jerry Sandusky had his keys to the locker room taken away, and the incident was reported to the charitable organization which Jerry Sandusky set up.
At this point, if you're wondering when the police were called, you'd be perfectly right to speculate. You'd also be 100 percent accurate in your realization that the police were never called.
Therein lies the problem. Children were raped; the grand jury report details how a ten-year-old was seen being sodomized in the locker room showers. Nobody thought to call the police.
I don't need to go into detail about the monstrosity that is Jerry Sandusky. This man will be judged and sentenced. Yet, there's a higher moral code that was completely violated by the staff at the university.
As a football coach at a major university, Joe Paterno knows that his responsibility is to the future. His responsibility is not just to his football players, or his university, but to the idea that he's a molder of young minds in the lifelong commitment to forming a greater society through positive interactions with young people that look to him for guidance.
Necessarily, that position requires a person with a certain moral character. That's the reason that legendary college coaches are beloved by their players and their institutions. You never hear stories about Bear Bryant turning the other cheek when players were breaking rules. John Wooden never once was accused of going easy on his basketball players, because he knew it would make them lesser men. It'd be a dereliction of his responsibility to them.
Joe Paterno knew that laws were being broken. Not just university by-laws, or laws of society, but the laws of nature. Children were being attacked, and he had more than a sufficient opportunity to do something about it. What did he do?
He lived up to the auspices of a famous quote by Edwin Burke. "All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."
Evil triumphed at Penn State, in large part because people that were in a position to stop it did nothing. People that were expected to be leaders to the young men that look up to them stood idly by while innocent children were sexually assaulted. Joe Paterno shucked the tradition established by great leaders of young men, and rather than doing what was right, he turned away and pretended it didn't exist.
So I ask this—what makes anyone think that this is someone who deserves to be in a position of leadership? Why does Joe Paterno deserve the right to finish out his final season?
I don't think keeping him on as coach is going to result in further sexual abuses. It's not about that, not right now. It's about the fact that he doesn't deserve to finish his final season on his terms. He failed his responsibilities as a human at a time when it counted the most. How can he purport to be a leader of his players and the community when he has failed on such a large, incomprehensible scale?
Why does Joe Paterno deserve to be in any sort of leadership position for one more second?