When it comes to this child-abuse sex scandal, emotions ran high and conclusions were jumped to without rational thinking. Case and point, the firing of Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno from the head football coach position at Penn State, which he held for 62 years, was premature, unnecessary and wrong.
Paterno was fired in wake of the recent sexual abuse allegations involving his former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, who allegedly engaged in inappropriate conduct with three boys from the years 1994 to 1997. Sandusky met the boys separately through the Second Mile program, the name of his charity that helps troubled youths.
At the time of the abuse, the boys were 7 or 8, another was 10 and the third was 12 or 13. The now-adult men said Sandusky engaged in inappropriate conduct, from touching to outright sexual encounters, according to a grand jury report. Several incidents took place during the nights before home games when the team, staff and boys Sandusky had allegedly invited were staying at a hotel.
Sandusky retired in 1999, but on March 2, 2002, Mike McQueary, a graduate assistant, allegedly told Paterno he saw Sandusky in the locker room shower the night before with a young boy he estimated to be 10 years old, according to the report. The next day, Paterno told Athletic Director Tim Curley what he was told by his graduate assistant.
Curley and Senior Vice President for Finance and Business Gary Schultz decided to meet with McQueary, and after the meeting Curley had the impression the conduct amounted to innocent “horsing around,” he said. Sandusky’s locker-room keys were confiscated and he was told not to bring Second Mile participants to campus.
The incident was reported to Sandusky’s charity, but no law enforcement investigation was launched, according to the report.
Curley later told the charity, “the information had been internally reviewed and that there was no finding of wrongdoing.”
The entire scandal surrounding Paterno, not the university, is based on the alleged conversation between Paterno and McQueary, who is currently the wide receivers coach for Penn State. In recent days, McQueary has recently been in the news for adding slight modifications to what he allegedly said and did on that day in March 2002. The context of that conversation is still unknown to the public.
In light of all the facts that are now public, society has learned these horrible alleged actions have been going on since 1994, long before anyone at Penn State knew anything. Next, we have learned how Paterno was informed about the allegations and third, we learned that the grand jury report is up for interpretation. Such as, did McQueary tell them everything he saw?
Regardless of how people feel about the situation, whether they think the school handled it correctly or not, the treatment of Paterno by the university was disrespectful. He was not even granted the opportunity to plead his case to the Board of Directors, who instead listened to the media over the words of one of their own.
The public has been told by various media sources Mcqueary told Paterno he saw Sandusky performing anal sex on a young boy. This is the alleged statement of Mcqueary, according to the grand jury report. However, Paterno and Mcqueary have never testified in front of a grand jury.
Paterno, who has the most wins in Division I college history, a 62 year history at Penn State, over $20 million donated to the school and who has the university library named after him, only got a phone call that day to tell him he was relieved from his duties as head football coach.
He deserved the opportunity to retire at the end of the year like he had planned. To jump to conclusions and fire a coach who virtually built that university from the ground up is an injustice and should be treated as such. Paterno was the icon of Penn State, a legend even, and he was unfortunately not even granted due process.
If at the end of the day we find out he was told explicitly what happened and still decided to sweep it under the rug after due process, then yes, he should have been fired and even prosecuted. However, to move on this quickly and not even grant him the respect to find out if the allegations were true is unfair treatment to a living legend.