He's reverently and affectionately called "JoePa." He leads Penn State's storied Nittany Lions, their uniforms a pure white with dignified blue stripes, as they've delighted fans for decades in a stadium called Happy Valley.
Now, Joe Paterno, 46 years as Penn State's head coach - and just a week after notching his 409th victory, the most for any major-college football coach - is facing resounding calls to resign in disgrace.
The calls come after Paterno's longtime assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, was charged with child sex abuse for alleged incidents dating back to 1994. A graduate assistant informed Paterno of one alleged incident in 2002 that took place in a Penn State locker room shower.
Read the indictment in the case (PDF)
Paterno, who is not facing charges in the case, says he told his superiors in the athletic department about what the graduate assistant saw. Paterno was told that Sandusky was "fondling or doing something of a sexual nature to a young boy," according to a grand jury.
Paterno has said in a statement that he "did what I was supposed to with the one charge brought to my attention."
On Tuesday, a Paterno news conference during which he was expected to face questions about the scandal was canceled.
"Due to the ongoing legal circumstances centered around the recent allegations and charges, we have determined that today's press conference cannot be held and will not be rescheduled," the university said in a statement.
Timeline of Penn State abuse case
With no new answers or explanations Tuesday, the prevailing opinion seems to be that Paterno didn't do close to enough; so little that there are widespread calls for him to resign.
"Remember, Penn State is not your typical college football program," writes Neil Rudel in The Altoona Mirror. "It is a kingdom and there is one king, regardless of whether he supposedly reports to anyone else."
"This was a moral test, one in which Penn State's leadership - led by Paterno because he's the king and all he had to do was tell all involved to turn in Sandusky - deserves an F," Rudel writes.
The moral issue came up again and again in comments Tuesday.
"Paterno did only the minimum the law required. Telling (athletic director Tim) Curley doesn’t absolve Paterno from a moral obligation. He should’ve taken action himself. Failing to do that allowed Sandusky to victimize boys for another seven years," the Newark Star-Ledger writes in an editorial.
The Star-Ledger was echoing a point made by Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly on Monday.
“Those officials and administrators to whom it was reported did not report the incident to law enforcement or to any child protection agency. Their inaction, likely, allowed a child predator to continue to victimize children for many, many years," Kelly said.
"We don't yet know who is legally guilty. But several prominent employees at the state university are morally guilty. And one of them is Joe Paterno," writes Michael Rosenberg on SI.com.
Rosenberg likens Penn State to the Catholic Church, which has been rocked by sex abuse scandals.
"The allegations were so horrific that they threatened to undermine the reputation of the institution. The people in charge should have brought the allegations to light. But they were more worried about how the institution would look than the values it is supposed to uphold," Rosenberg writes.
New York Daily News columnist Mike Lupica also used the Catholic Church analogy.
"It was not a priest with a boy in the dark rooms of a church this time, it was the church of football at Penn State University," Lupica wrote.
"If the government can make its case against Sandusky — once Paterno's top football sergeant, and so a priest of football at Penn State — then nobody involved should survive this, starting with a coach who came out of Brooklyn Prep nearly 70 years ago to make his name one of the most famous and respected in the history of his sport," according to Lupica.
In the state capital of Harrisburg, The Patriot-News ran a full front-page editorial calling for the end of Paterno's time at Penn State.
The front page of The Patriot-News in Harrisburg on Tuesday.
"As for Joe Paterno, the face of Penn State and the man who has pushed for excellence on the football field and for the entire university, this must be his last season. His contract should not be extended," the editorial said.
Besides Sandusky, two other Penn State officials, athletic director Tim Curley and senior vice president for finance and business Gary Schultz, face charges in the case for failing to report the abuse allegations to criminal authorities.
In a USA Today story, some questioned if they were trying to protect what the paper called "Paterno's saintly reputation."
"Sainthood is a word not often used in sports of any kind, college or otherwise," Robert Thompson, founding director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University, is quoted as saying. "This story comes out of a program that seemed the epitome of squeaky-clean."
Earlier this year, another Big Ten conference coach who was seen by many as above reproach, Ohio State's Jim Tressel, resigned in disgrace after withholding program violations from the NCAA. Tressel's case was just the latest in a long list that have plagued college football, including cases at the University of Southern California, the University of Miami and several other top programs.
But commentators Tuesday said the Penn State case has taken the slimy side of college football down to a new depth.
"If these allegations are proven true, this scandal is far worse than anything that's happened at other universities. Exploiting dozens and raping young boys could never compare to the minor infractions of boosters buying a car for a player or a player selling his autographed football jersey for a few bucks," Roxanne Jones, a Penn State alumnae and founding editor of ESPN The Magazine, writes for CNN.com.
At age 84, Paterno has been seen as a candidate for retirement for decades. With the sex abuse scandal rocking the campus, The Philadelphia Inquirer says, Paterno's time has come.
"His oft-discussed retirement would be timelier than ever - even though leaving amid this scandal will provide a sad coda to an otherwise stellar career for the man who, until now, served as the reassuring public face of Penn State," The Inquirer said in an editorial Tuesday.
TIME.com's Sean Gregory said it would be tough for any fan to watch Paterno at work on a Saturday afternoon now.
"If these charges are true, how can we ever view him in the same light again? Who cares about all the wins? We’re not talking about a recruiting violation here. We’re talking about an unspeakable violation, to innocent children," Gregory writes. "We don’t see how Joe Paterno can still coach."
The Star-Ledger is starker.
"Given the disgusting nature of these widespread allegations, the insidious connections to Penn State football and Paterno’s lack of judgment when told, it’s time for him to take his 409 victories and Hall of Fame bust and leave. Quickly," the Ledger said.
Joe Paterno knew...and in a moment in need of wisdom and a hard decision – he chose the path of compromise.
If he is a man of integrity, a quality attributed to him over the course of his professional career, he will recognize the depth of his mistake and resign.
Any other decision...any...will only compound the mistake already made.
GREAT POST! Brilliant! Thanks
just think if it would of been his son jay when he was a little kid running around the campus...then he would of done something...its time to admit what you didnt do and move on...bad way to go out but football over a bunch of childrens lives ...there is NO comparasion.
I agree totally..and Ohio State got rid of their big time coach over the team members selling mechandise for tattoos?
All we have are accusations. No one has been convicted of anything. Let the U.S. legal system do what it's supposed to do. If the charges are proven in court to be true, then let those responsible be punished. In the United States, you are innocent until proven guilty. Nobody should be punished until their guilt is proven in court.
"innocent until proven guilty" is a myth. Ask any doctor accused of molesting a patient! Ask any doctor and they will tell you that Medical Boards have NO problem destroying a doctors career and reputation at the mere hint of this sort of behavior. Ask any doctor how many innocent doctors have paid a price at the behest of people that know that an accusation translates into hefty settlements, regardless of actual guilt or not.
And the same goes for our justice system. How many innocent people have been locked up in our jails...and some purposely.
That said, Sandusky IS guilty because MORE than one credible person saw him behaving inappropriately with young boys. AND, HE WAS ARRESTED FOR THIS STUFF BEFORE!!! So, the verdict is...GUILTY!!!
Dave , innocent until proven guilty is the standard in a criminal case in which someone can go to jail. It is not the standard of proof that should be used to determine whether JoePa should keep his job. It is not the standard of proof that the NCAA uses to determine whether the Penn state Football Standard should receive a sanction. For my money, the Penn State Football Program should suspended immediately.
Thats fine the criminal justice system but no one runs an educational organization with the idea that lets wait till the law finishes up with everything and then take action the scales of justice are not the same in both arenas. The school is already behind the curve they should have fired the bunch years ago and this lack of leadership will be the black eye deserved by the failure to act by those in authority.
Thank you! The media is turning this into a field day for people who want Penn State to fall from grace... Nothing has be decided by the law yet.
Dennis, do you realize that this incident occurred AFTER Sandusky had retired? It has absolutely NOTHING to do with the existing football program, and I'd put money on you being a fan of a rival school.
So now it's the Penn State Nittany Liars?
Penn State Nittany Child Rapists
Penn State Nittany Diddlers
still nittany lions... but now its Penn-etrate State, or...Tightend U
No, it's State Pen(n) Nittany Lions.
You people are idiots and it shows in your posts!
Joe P = DOPE ON A ROPE.
Its easy for the media and everyone else to pick on Paterno. He's the big famous name in this story. Paterno did the right thing he heard the story second hand from someone and informed his direct supervisor. It happened on school property, the university has its own police force and it should of been reported to them by Curley and Schwartz. This is all the AD and VP's fault and the only witness should of done more. Paterno didnt do anything wrong, it's his bosses who have failed him. Most organizations have whistle blower policies and even though Sanduskey is most likely guilty, I would not want to be responsible for dragging the guys name through the mud if he wasnt back when Paterno was told. You go to the higher power in your organization and tell them like he did, then they interviewed the witness then they covered it up. Not Paterno's fault.
He's guilty of turning a blind eye. He had the power to insist that the police be involved. He didn't. JoePa decided that the program was more important than every kid molested after he was told what the student saw. If that kid was personally connected to JoePa, don't you think he would have done something more than kicked up the chain?
At Penn State, JoPa is the HIGHEST power. Just stop b/f you embarras yourself further. I've never posted on a board until I read your post.
After the situation that was reported to him, yes, all the other kids molested are, to some degree, his fault. He didn't commit the act but he allowed it to happen by not doing the right thing.
I have to disagree here. Nothing happens in the Penn State football program and its facilities that is not ultimately under Joe Paterno's control. If he had been told that one of his staff had been discussing the Nittany Lions' playbook with someone from a rival team, he would not have stopped until he got to the bottom of even the slightest whiff of allegation. I am horribly disappointed that he did not do the same in this situation, something so much more important than who might or might not win a football game.
This isn't an abstract thing for me. I'm from State College. I went to school with his daughter Mary. I sat next to him in church on Sundays. He's not some big-name football coach to me; he's the guy my mom chatted with after church. And he's the guy who should have investigated the accusations against Jerry Sandusky, should have nailed him to the wall, and who has said nothing, done nothing, for years. I hate to see it end this way ... not for PSU, but for the guy I knew just as "Joe". As we all do, he made his choices ... but I wish with all my heart he'd made different ones.
How do you know he was thinking of the program? He was told something and he reported it. And you cant say the what if's if he knew the kid because he didnt. Lets stick to the facts of the case not here say. Im certain he feels a amount of responsibility for not doing more. But the extent of what he did was right. Imagine soemone one of your employees told you a story about another individual at work what would you do. and @sam regardless how powerful Joe Pa is at PSU hes the football coach, hes got bosses just like the rest of us who employ him and pay his salary so at the end of the day its his Bosses who are at fault.
We see bad things happen everyday, do we report it? If one of my employees came to me an said I saw Jim fondling Sally in the copy room and she didnt like it, I would report it to my HR. Or if a someone told me that Sally has been getting beat up at home I would report it to my HR. Thats why their there they investigate. He didnt know any details of the incident expect what McQuery told him so he reported it and let them deal with it.
this is the law and we are talking about children being victimized not the image of the football team or is this the only concern that Penn State had and has. Would you allow a person that was alleged to have committed such an act given that you had a grad student tell you the explicits of the act He WITNESSED, Joe should have fired the person on the spot.
I agree with you too.
Also, why isn't everyone bagging on the person who reported to Paterno in the first place? Should we find that person and make them suffer too?
Agreed. It's disturbing to see that so many people are ignoring that fact that we have more information now than we did at the time when this incident occurred. ANYONE reporting this incident to police could have prevented future occurrences. You cannot expect one person to have known how serious Sandusky's actions were, let alone report an incident to the police that you did not witness yourself. There are the police, and there are the moral police. With the former, you'd better have your facts straight. With the latter, nobody can EVER be blameless.
Chester, you are so right.
From a legal standpoint you're right. From a moral standpoint he's a phony and a liar and if not for his inaction some of these kids might have been spared... We know what he was protecting: his football program. What's a 10 year old kid (or kids) compared to that?
OMG you obviously are not a parent. True, Paterno reported it. But NOTHING WAS DONE. An EYE WITNESS went to Paterno to report it. Don't you think JOPA would have wanted to find out the truth and perhaps go to authorities? His reputation and that of the program could have been at stake. Instead, this Sandusky was allowed to continue coaching for many years and molested other kids. I just don't understand the stupid mentality of some people here. Jopa gets paid millions, he could have taken a few minutes to call police and inquire if an investigation was done. and, Jopa HAS NO superiors. HE RUNS THE SHOW.
#1 I am a parent and so is Paterno so Im sure he feels for the victims. And if it was my child the law would be Sanduskey hope of saving him because I would of buried him. Paterno doesnt make millions either his PSU salary for 2011 is $554,136. LInda you have to get your facts straight. Sanduskey retired in 1999, but maintained an office at the university due to the work with the charity and his legacy with PSU. When the incident occured in 2002 how was Paterno to know there were more then one victim. I believe that if charges were brought in 2002 people would still blame Joe Pa saying it happened on his watch and find a way to scape goat him. And as for the moral law mentality, All of us everyday see things we know are not right but do nothing about it. Thats just hypocrisy.
KNUCKLEHEAD. Your post is the BEST. He was protecting his wrinkled bag of bones and that stupid football program. NOTHING MORE THAN THAT!
Yes he did report it. BUT. But maybe he knew that it would be covered up because of implications it would have had on the school and its football program. There was no chance of a cover up if he reported it with the appropriate authorities. AND when Sandusky does not get charged, why doesn't he inquire... because it has to be kept under the rug. Fire him. Take away his wins. And let him hear testimony from all the victims he could've saved that happened afterwards.
Why would he inquire he heard info second hand??? You ppl are making Paterno to be the scape goat here and he's definitely not.
Is the law, the person is to report it to a supervisor, or the person is to report it to law enforcement or child services?
@chester....not the scapegoat...needs to be treated like the others....no "special" attention...he was part of the cover-up and should be punished just as the others should be...why should he and the president be spared when the participated? They ALL should lose their jobs...not just a couple...for allowing abuse the abuse to continue
There are some real idiots on here today, Doncat, but you take the cake!!!!
Im curious why anyone would call him to quit when he had nothing to do with it? As soon as he found out he reported it. He is not responsible for what this loser did to these kids. He made no mistakes and should standfast against these idiots who are looking to get rid of him for something he had nothing do with. I cannot believe you people are that stupid to see it any other way.
This is an accusation that is so serious, and so damaging, that an immediate investigation should have been conducted. Any time an accusation such as this is made, it should immediately be when he heard the accusation. If it was unfounded, then he clears his friend/employee's name. However, if it was true, a pedophile would have been brought to justice and would not have been allowed to continue to molest children for seven more years. Joe Paterno, as head coach should have PUSHED to have this investigated and cleared up. Also, if this was his friend, he should not have just passed the buck to someone else, boss or not. And we all know the kind of power this head coach wields. If he didn't have power, no way would they have kept him this long. He should not have wanted anyone with even a wiff of scandal attached to his program.
Yeah Matt, they're that stupid and more!
Take another look and remove your bias Paterno was told and the manner in which this person acted with children, from the indictment one would have to be stupid not to see that Paterno had to have known what was going on.
Serious questions have to be asked to Joe Pa as to what leverage that Sandusky had over Joe Pa, to allow him continued access to the campus even after all the alegations were made and continued to be made.
I'm wondering about Ray Gricar, the DA. He's the one who dropped the charges originally. And just before he was about to retire ... when he would no longer be in a position to protect Jerry Sandusky ... he disappeared. There are indications that his disappearance was voluntary. I'd love to see what some forensic accountants could come up with if they dug through Sandusky's bank accounts. One unanswered question about Gricar's disappearance has always been, if it was voluntary, how did he afford it? I have to wonder if the answer is right here.
wow...I remember when Gricar disappared!! I never thought of it like that! I'm guessing you're from central PA too...did you notice how none of the local news sites (WJAC, WTAJ, johnstown's trib) mention NOTHING about this article, even though all the websites are plastered w/ joepa news?
It sickens me what Sandusky is accused of doing, but it further sickens me for people to smear Paterno’s reputation on gossip, innuendo and hearsay. Please remember to not bear false witness against thy neighbor is a commandment from God, not a nice suggestion. It is stupid – possibly to the point of imbecility – to say the coach has 100% knowledge of 100% of his players and coaches 100% of the time!
The biggest problem that Penn State always had in recruiting is that perspective athletes did not want Joe Pa on their back all the time about obeying the rules and going to class. Michael Irving, that later played at Miami, visited Penn State and said Penn State was run like a military academy! Anybody that knows anything about Joe Pa knows the guys is 100% by the book and he has lost lots of recruits to other schools because most college athletes are in college ball looking to make it to the NFL. Paterno has always been a stickler about football players going to class. Paterno has a long history of disciplinarian action against football ball players, even before big games. Paterno is an employee of Penn State and he follows their rules to the letter
Wow...he is a stickler for recruiting rules. Just not when it comes to pedophilia. Don't forget about the fact that he was well aware of the fact that Sandusky admitted to the grappling naked shower incident in 1999 after a woman called the police.
He didn't need to be knowledgeable of his coaches 100% of the time. All that should have mattered that this one instance that was reported to him. It's so serious that, yes, you do the thing you don't want to do and get involved. This situation was bigger than the program. It required Joe Pa to act and make sure that this situation was dealt with appropriately. Not merely kicked up the chain for someone else to sweep under the rug. Do you think that if it was his kid/grandson/etc. that he would have let this go? Of course not. He failed every kid that was abused after this incident and that is unforgivable.
Dump this old lying pig of a man. What a sick freak.
Bucky the Badger must be dumber than dirt
And what did he lie about??? Oh, that's right.....nothing!
PSU Fan...that's right, he lied about nothing but also did NOTHING to help this child. I hope you're not a teacher!
Perhaps you need help with anger management.
We shouldn't stand for this....the need to be FIRED, I don't want to see RETIRED or STEP-DOWN!!!!!!!! give me a break the law needs to STEP UP and the witnesses and anyone who knew about the case and never went to the police should be FIRED AS OF YESTERDAY!!!!!
He followed the law. That's not the question. What's in question is whether he had a moral obligation to go beyond what the law required. Frankly, I think he did, but "only" obeying the law is not a firing offense.
LEAVE THE CATHOLIC CHURCH OUT OF THIS!
Paterno is not a priest, nor has he ever been.
His business is football, not Catechism.
you can't talk about people in charge turning a blind eye and not doing anything and not reporting to police because they think they are God without talking about the Catholic Church and what they do....sorry, I'm a Catholic but I know how wrong the Catholic church is when it comes to pedophilia and worse....
ahh.. the age of blaming others for someone elses downfall. Its getting old.
Sorry Joe but it time. Please go now.
Yes, and don't let the door to hit you in the ...
Penn State football should receive the NCAA Death Penalty, period.
You clearly don't know what the NCAA "Death Penalty" regards... this has nothing to do with the sport of college football. This has to do with the actions of certain school administrators. Please learn before you post. We Are.
If you spell out the word "period" is it still required to include the punctuation mark at the end?
Penn State need to get the death penalty when other teams do stuff off the feild like sell jerseys,ride in golf carts with agents,or even say the wrong thing Reggie Bush did something,and the school had no knowlege
of and now usc is struggling.TAKE THE DEATH PENALTY its ur time
Yes, it's the only way you can eliminate the competetion, loser.
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