Wednesday night, November 9, 2011, the Penn State Board of Trustees unanimously voted to fire head football coach Joe Paterno, and school president Graham Spanier. The trustee’s decision to dismiss Paterno and Spanier didn’t come as a shock considering their callous reaction to a report of an alleged child sexual assault by former university employee, Jerry Sandusky.
Immediately after news broke of the 40 count indictment charges that were filed against Sandusky, which alledged he sexually abused eight young boys, shock and anger across the country grew when details were learned about the tepid response of Penn State officers and coaches.
The March 2002 account of the alleged sexual assault was the nexus of the inevitable outcome of the trustees board meeting.
On an evening in March 2002 graduate assistant, Mike McQueary, returned to the locker room of the Lasch Football Building to put a pair of sneakers in his locker, and to pick up a recruiting film. Hearing noises coming from the locker room showers, McQueary went to investigate, and encountered the sight of Sandusky sexually assaulting a young boy he later said appeared to be about 10-years-old.
Then like lab rats responding environment stimuli; McQueary, Paterno, Spanier, Tim Curley, and Gary Schultz, showed a total lack of humanity.
Maybe it was McQueary and Paterno, and athletic director Curley’s absorption in football that eclipsed concern for a little boy victimized by an adult in a position of authority, which is both bewildering and sad at the same time.
Instead of coming to the aid of the child and calling the police, McQueary chose to call his father after leaving the scene of a crime in progress. The next day, McQueary went to the home of Paterno to report the sexual assault, which Paterno reported the next day to Curley.
A week and a half later, Curley and senior vice president of finances and business Gary Schultz met with McQueary to discuss what he had seen.
After meeting with McQueary, Curley and Schultz reached a decision for the appropriate punishment for Sandusky.
First, Sandusky’s keys to the team locker room would be taken away. Second, The Second Mile Program, the non-profit organization Sandusky established for disadvantaged children would be informed of the allegations against its founder.
There was no indication that anyone made inquiries about the identity of the young boy Sandusky allegedly assaulted.
Then on Wednesday in advance of the board of trustees meeting, Paterno announced his retirement effective at the end of the season. The announcement gave the appearance of being both magnanimous, and compassionate.
But here again, Paterno misses the mark, and falls short of doing the right thing; to immediately step down as head coach of the Penn State football team, to show he but people ahead of records.
Paterno, at age 84 holds the record for coach with the most wins in Division 1 college football at 409, which he amassed during his 45 years at Penn State. Paterno’s resume was complete
Paterno said of the alleged sexual assault, “With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.”
So do we “Joe Pa.”