Penn State's Paterno faces pressure to quit over sex abuse case
Penn State coach Joe Paterno addresses the media after a recent Penn State game.
November 8th, 2011
10:36 AM ET

Penn State's Paterno faces pressure to quit over sex abuse case

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.

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Filed under: College football • Crime • Football • Jerry Sandusky • Joe Paterno • Penn State • Sports
soundoff (1,486 Responses)
  1. guynsombrero

    Paterno didnt witness the act, he told his boss the information brought to him, sorry to say but if he would have went to the police or cps it would have been laughed off because he didnt witness it, his supervisor should have held an investigation and the witness should have went to the police not a football coach, he is a football coach after all not an authority on legal matters, making him resign because of this would be shameful on the part of penn state. and better yet lets place the blame on the person who commited the act not everyone else!!!

    November 8, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  2. dowdotica

    Paterno, King? Pope? Cain? hmmm...sounds religious to me!lol

    November 8, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Goto Prison Joe

    When you see or hear of a child being rayeped, you don't call the principle or the teacher or the volunteer Boy Scout leader or the priest or your mom or your dad.....you call the FREAKING POLICE you stupid azzed morons. Holey craep!

    November 8, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mznorthnj1

      Spot on!!!!

      November 8, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  4. shopgirlt

    Sport legends are NOT above reproach, even if they are considered a "king" in their community. Paterno was morally obligated to act diligently and responsibly when confronted with illegal activities in his football "kingdom." There's no excuse for what he let go and die on the vine at Penn State. He personally let those victimized children down and should have to pay for that.

    November 8, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Moral Question

    Retirement age anyway, right? Clearly the question of right and wrong is a blur to these guys. Time for good men to take over. Consider it 2012.

    November 8, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Joe

    All you people who are defending Paterno make me sick. Imagine it was YOUR kid in that shower and you found out Paterno knew about it.

    November 8, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • aircop

      He must go. Should have gone many years ago. The sad fact is that Sandusky was the real "king" at PSU because he's responsible for PSU's national championships. Since he left, the team has been average at best–sometimes horrible. That's probably why Paterno didn't want to rat him out. He knew Sandusky was the reason for Paterno's "success". Went to games up there starting at 7 years old an knew/know alot of the family. For the sake of this whole outrage and for the sake of the future of PSU football, please go away.

      November 8, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • evalu8

      Read the indictment before condemning Paterno alone. The matter was reported to Paterno by a graduate assistant who witnessed one of the assaults. The witness did not report it to the police and yet you say nothing of HIS moral responsibility to do more. Paterno reported it promptly to his superiors, the proper course of action insofar as Sandusky had access to university infrastructure but was no longer in the employ or supervision of Paterno. Apparetnly Paterno assumed, as did the witness, that proper action would be taken by higher authorities. Paterno was not that authority.

      November 8, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Guest

    JoePa does need to go. Doing what's right still matters. How many other victims did his lack of integrity create? Ick.

    November 8, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  8. VoiceOfReason

    "Let he who hath no sin, cast the first stone". Wrong is wrong, BS is BS. Joe did as required under the law. It is NOT his responsibility to foolow up nor is he actually able to get the information if it was pursued the way that it should have been. The blame is on the police force for lack of speed in the investigation.It's easy to talk a good game about what you would do AFTER the fact. Joe is no more guilty than the rest of the idiots commenting and calling for him to resign. I am certain that he rarely even saw Sandusky day to day since there is no testimony that the kids were taken to see Joe at the school. Open your eyes to that fact, geniuses.

    November 8, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      I'm a PSU fan for 45 years...If this was happening to JoePa grandkids and all they did was report it to their supervisor...I'm sure Joe would be calling for someones head, as well....

      November 8, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • what???????

      you must be a mambla member.....

      November 8, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  9. prisons were built for pedophiles

    sometimes locking people in a box is the right answer.

    November 8, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  10. cdeu_220

    Read the PDF indictment – I tried and couldn't get thru it. Most of this was allegedly done on Penn State campus and supposedly there were more than a few people who witnessed Sandusky at one time or another in 'compromising positions' involving small children (as young as 8 years old). Why did Sandusky mysteriously 'retire' from Penn State at the ripe old age of 56? Paterno knew more about his asst coach & 'friend' – that 'one incident' reported to him not the first and only time. Let's see if all of the effort put forth to protect the Penn State image & Sandusky ends up being worth it.......

    November 8, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Oski

    Paterno is like the pope and Sandusky is like one of his priests...and PSU is like the church. Paterno's word is the law...nobody goes against him, or else. I have no doubt he was calling the shots. I would expect this at Notre Dame...

    November 8, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Susan

    It's going to be such a shame for Jopa to end an otherwise wonderful career in disgrace...because he didn't do the right thing. If he had reported even this one incident to the police or followed through, he would be a hero.

    November 8, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pebbles Flintstone

      I agree. Unfortunately the only that people will remember is that he didn't do the right thing when he should have. What a shame his career will end on such a bad note. Of course, he has no one to blame but himself. 🙁

      November 8, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  13. James Virginia

    JoePa wipes his butt with you losers calling him names. What, are you the 99% (OWS) losers? Bwahahahhaaaaa....

    November 8, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Southerner01

      I heard he wipes his but with Jerry Sandusky's salami.

      November 8, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • ROCO

      AGREE 100000%. So he's not coaching a power house anymore... who cares. He's an icon and loved by many in football. If people think otherwise then they don't know jack about sports at all. Screw you all that think his leaving is right.

      November 8, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • SlowGun

      Great post James.
      You must be a big Joe Pa fan.
      Hey, maybe joe can get Sandusky to coach your son pervert...I mean prevent defense.

      When something is wrong its wrong...no matter who does, (or in this case) doesn't do it.

      November 8, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Knucklehead

      who wipes his butt when Sandusky is done with him?

      November 8, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • derty ernie

      Actually Penn state has been the loser the last 10 years with so so teams.

      November 8, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      No, I just don't condone child molestation nor do I condone looking the other way in order to protect a college football program.

      November 8, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • TheDarkLastOneofMPLS

      Troll

      November 8, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • AAsI

      Paterno dropped the ball. Shut up and hekp him change his diaper- he forgets a lot!

      November 8, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • CullThePopulace

      Remember this: that old dirt bag will be gone before 2012 hits. And that will be his epithet. Corroborator with a pedophile.

      November 9, 2011 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Shut Up

      Actually, I am the one percent. I am not understanding your reasoning regarding income vs. moral values/ protecting small children. Your are ignorant.

      November 9, 2011 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Dee

      WHAT ARE YOU 5 yrs old?

      November 9, 2011 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
    • whatever

      No, Your JoePa wiped his but with you and all the Penn state students who are devoted to him and his pedifile friends. " )

      November 10, 2011 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Goto Prison Joe

    Ummm, many of you microbloogers are stupid. If you hear of a child being molested or rayped, you don't call the athletic director...you don't call the fire department....you don't call your mommy...YOU CALL THE FREAKING POLICE you morons. YES...Joe Paterno is STUPID for not calling the police, as you shal see.

    November 8, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Amy

    Why is there no mention in this or many of the other articles I've read concerning this of Mike McQueary? He was the one who walked in on Sandusky IN THE ACT OF RAPING A CHILD and didn't stop it. He was "distraught" and went home and told his mom and dad. How can a grown man witness such a violent, barbaric act upon a defenseless 10 year old boy and not race in to stop it–punch Sandusky in the face, grab the child away from him, shout for help, call 911 immediately–all of those things should have been reflexive. What kind of man is he, turning his back on a helpless child being brutalized before his eyes? He left that poor kid with that sick, perverted, abusive old creep and went home because he was so "distraught". What a big, strong, macho jock–afraid to rescue a little boy. I am absolutely appalled at ALL parties involved here but can't fathom why McQueary's name seems to be absent from so many of these news stories. Disgusting, all of them.

    November 8, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • what???????

      preach it . why didnt that guy stop it... did he stay and watch it end quietly...i think hes a perv too

      November 8, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
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