Where We Go From Here: The Penn State Cover Up

Former FBI director, Louis Freeh, delivered his findings regarding the Penn State scandal at a news conference in Philadelphia.

The in-depth report conducted by former FBI Director, Louis Freeh, is out and the reactions to the information in it have been vastly different. The extensive 267 page report made it clear that former Penn State President Graham Spanier, former Athletic Director Tim Curley, former Vice President Gary Schultz and legendary former Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno, all failed to do their part to stop convicted child molester, Jerry Sandusky. The report asserted that despite the four men’s knowledge of Sandusky’s criminal behavior with young males on Penn State grounds, they came to a consensus to conceal the information for the reputation of the school. They failed to go to the authorities and enabled the crimes committed against Sandusky’s victims. This new knowledge has certainly answered some questions, but it has also raised some new ones that may be quite difficult to answer.

The question arisen by all of this, that is the most hotly contested, is what does it all mean for the legacy of Joe Paterno.

There is probably no concrete answer to that question. There are those who will forever see Paterno as a man who shirked his responsibility and who failed to matchup to the image that he tried to make us all believe that he lived. And then, there are those who will forever revere JoePa as a legend and a beacon of ethics who made one mistake that in hindsight he regretted.

Joe Paterno’s legacy at Penn State is scarred forever in light of the Freeh reports claims.

Should the statue come down? Should the library named after him be renamed? Should we continue to speak about his accomplishments as a coach and philanthropist or do we allow the final dark chapter to be his lasting legacy?

There have been a myriad of opinions. Obviously there are those who want his statue removed and his named stripped from any building it adorns. There have been suggestions of creating a Joe Paterno like exhibit at Penn State that will tell the entire story; the good and the bad.

Then there are several individuals, many of which are Penn Staters, that believe that JoePa is being unfairly targeted for his actions when there were other individuals just as guilty as he was. There is also Paterno’s son Jay who believes that his father may have been capable of doing more, but argues that he did everything he was suppose to do and that the Freeh report is merely opinion.

Since the news broke, I have refrained from giving a concrete opinion. It’s not that mine is so special or that mine is any better than anyone elses. I just wanted to take my time to formulate a response that is not rooted in either indifference or anger. I wanted to strive to reach a happy medium from which to come up with an opinion. So here it is:

The statue, his name, his likeness, should all be removed from Penn State University. At the end of the day, he shirked his responsibility to protect the image of the school and more importantly the football program. His first priority was the empire he built, not the children that were being abused. For all the good he did in his life, he erased almost all of it by enabling a criminal and turning a blind eye to victims that he could of saved. I can’t help but ask myself when I examine this situation, why should I care about Joe Paterno’s legacy? He clearly did not. If he cared about his legacy, he would have been the man he claimed to be whether eyes were on him or not. Penn State can clearly remember JoePa and all he did, but they would be smart to distance themselves from him. I’ve spoke to a lot of people who have been to Penn State and they speak about the almost cult like atmosphere that permiates the school. The perception is sadly that Penn State is a shady institution that harbors secretive behavior due to its seclusion. For the sake of the University, they need to distant themselves from the name Paterno. It will never carry a positive connotation ever again.

Jerry Sandusky was found guilty on 45 of 48 counts and faces up to 400 years in prison for his crimes committed against young boys.

There have also been those calling for the NCAA to punish Penn State football with suspensions and even the death penalty. That will not solve anything and it does not fall within the power of the NCAA. They serve to punish those who violate rules to gain a competitive advantage. The simple fact is, this incident had nothing to do with the actual game of football. Sandusky was long gone from the coaching staff. This cover up was simply four men who cared more about their own images, than the victims.

It is extremely sad. Joe Paterno was indeed a great man. His philanthropic work and his accomplishments as a football coach were admirable. He embodied hard work and passion. He literally did what he loved almost until the day he died. Sadly, for all the good, he tarnished his legacy by not living up to the standards he lead us to believe that he kept.

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