Forget his 409 wins at Penn State, Joe Paterno’s legacy will be his failure to do more.
Things aren’t very happy in Happy Valley these days, where Penn State University has been rocked by perhaps the ugliest scandal in collegiate sports history.
Coach Joe Paterno did what he was obligated to do. He should have done more. Now he has paid the ultimate price.
But the real victims here are the young boys who were abused on Paterno’s watch.
Anyone who cares about innocent children should read the 23-page Grand Jury report. It is an eye opener.
Page 6 in the report refers to March 1, 2002, when a Penn State graduate assistant, later identified as assistant coach Mike McQueary, witnessed the rape of a young boy by former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky in the showers of the Lasch Football Building on the University Park Campus.
The next morning, the graduate assistant telephoned Paterno and went to his house to report the issue. Paterno then notified his immediate superior at the time, Penn State athletic director Tim Curley.
According to the Grand Jury report, Sandusky’s keys to the locker room were taken away and the incident was reported to The Second Mile, Sandusky’s non-profit organization serving the youth of Pennsylvania.
The graduate assistant was never questioned by University Police, and nobody conducted a further investigation until more than eight years later, when McQueary testified to the Grand Jury last December.
Should Have Done More
Legally, Joe Paterno did what he was supposed to do. He reported the incident to his boss.
But morally, Joe Paterno failed that young boy in the showers and the other victims. As an authority figure, he should have followed up to ensure a proper investigation. He should have gone to the police.
Like others at Penn State, Paterno’s inactivity led to his dismissal.
The Grand Jury report cites seven other young boys who were victimized by Sandusky. No doubt, in time other horrors will surface.
This could have been prevented if Joe Paterno State had done the right thing when he had the opportunity.
“While I did what I was supposed to with the one charge brought to my attention, like anyone else involved I can’t help but be deeply saddened these matters are alleged to have occurred,” Paterno said in a statement earlier this week.
Paterno could have done more, should have done more. Instead of turning away, he could have pursued the situation and made sure the authorities followed up.
But he didn’t, and sadly that will be his legacy.