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

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

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.'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. 1984

    Again the POPE runs a tight ship also.... Maybe he should be indicted on the things he knew about Priests or better yet step down from being POPE.

    November 8, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • dave

      read the indictment you piece of garbage

      November 8, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Temple U > Penn State

      The Pope Should also be put on trial for child molestation and if found guilty placed on death row

      There should be 0 tolerance for this type of behavior i dont care who you are

      November 8, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Ravens kicked Pitts Butt

    Don't be surprised if Dan Rooney was in on this too. It's just a matter of time before that old creep gets caught.

    November 8, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Chris shays

    Joe Paterno is the face of the program. The head coach is always the face no matter if a situation is on the field or off. He did the bare minimal by law and wont face legal charges. I do have a issue with him doing the bare minimal, if i was him and i heard that one of my coaches was doing somethimg so awful as child molestation, you bet i would go very deep and find the truth and get rid of him. I dont think loyalty should have anything to do with this situation. This situation has just given the team and the college a huge black eye and now the coach needs to step down and his bosses lose their jobs. He didnt do any service to any future victims or the program by just doing the minimal. This makes me sick and I hope he does the right thing and "retire."

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

    Obviously, this is a sick and sad story. But don't blame Joe Pa – he was not giving full details of what happened. He reported it and that was the right thing.

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

      wrong, read the grand jury report.

      November 8, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • macthek9

      He didn't follow up, when A. nothing was officially reported, and B. when he witnessed sandusky with an 11 year old boy (on campus in 2007) what is the deal!! You have to report this stuff. Otherwise, you will pay for the crime!

      Sandusky needs to just be castrated...

      November 8, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • JMazz

      "He was not given the full details of what happened?" – are you kidding? Sandusky was sodmizing a 10 year old boy in the shower. What other "details" does he need? It's an absurd excuse to say he didn't get the details on a incredible accusation like this.

      November 8, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • goo6er

      "He reported it and that was the right thing." No, it was halfway to the right thing. Failure to go the distance resulted in child molestation.

      November 8, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • ultimate responsibility

      Are you kidding me? Guy plays for him, works for him for 30 years, and Joe Pa doesn't have the guts to do more? How about, "Jerry, I just hear some terrible accusations against you. I pray to God they are not true. But they are so serious you must immediately turn yourself in for an investigation. If proven innocent, I'll stand by you. But you must understand, I'm not resting until I know the truth...and you're proven innocent or guilty. It's that serious. Now you call the police or I will, right now."

      I hope my kids are never in a situation where coward after coward fails to step up and do the right thing. Resign immediately, Joe Paterno.

      November 8, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mdr

      Rob is wrong as is the usual collection of sanctimonious self righteous sports writers head hunting for Paterno. All you have to know us that the prosecutor and grand jury are the only ones who actually have all the facts and their determination was that Paterno did nothing the way I don't hear these sportswriters going after the assistant who actually witnessed the incident, gave Paterno no details or specifics and didn't go to the police himself.

      November 8, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Uniblob

      The only thing required to ensure the spread of evil is for good men to do nothing. That's exactly what Paterno did; nothing. I hope someone finds a way to punish him criminally for that decision.

      November 8, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • ultimate responsibility

      Sanctimonious? Do you have kids? I swear, I do not get how anyone defends Paterno for "sending the info up the chain of command."

      What a coward...and Sandusky lived on for 7 more years, doing who knows what.

      November 8, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • DB

      You couldn't be more wrong. It's TRAGIC how wrong you are. You clearly know nothing of ethics, particularly in an organization. Get a clue.

      November 8, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • C

      Yes, telling his superior was the right thing to do, but was not the only thing that should have been done. You are talking about criminal activity. He also holds the moral obligation to protect children, especially when you already know that he has harmed them. His inaction led to more abuse towards other young boys, abuse that could have been avoided had he stepped up and done what was morally right. He is guilty of inaction when action was necessary.

      November 8, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Dee


    November 8, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Maria T

    Nice to see I'm not the only one that feels the way I do. I'm sick of sports figures becoming larger than life and revered like they're gods. I'm glad to see that the remarks I'm reading here so far seem to be in great sympathy for the victims and how the right thing should have been done but those that knew what had been happening selfishly were only looking out for themselves including Joe Paterno. He should have been gone long ago and it sickened me to even lay eyes on him on t.v. all these years. It's about time sports in general and sports figures get cleaned up and shaken down off of their pedestals. YESSSSSSSS!!!!!!

    November 8, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zaphod2010

      It doesn't matter whether pattern saw abuse happening. He can't wash his hands and say that he reported and hen forgot about!
      We are talking child abuse whic continued to occur because these football people cared kore about the reputation of the university than a child's life.
      We had a murder in Bethesda, MD in March where two employees of Apple heard the woman's cry for help and they never bothered to call the police or investigate themselves. I don't know how these two feel but people need to take responsibility for their actions.
      We only care about posting stupid things on you tube!!

      November 8, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  7. macthek9

    Swallow cyanide!!!!!!

    November 8, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Logic

    This just tells you how the tail is wagging the dog. Assistant coach: Should I call cops or tell JoePa? I'll tell JoePa.

    JoePa: should I drop a dime on Jerry or just inform my 'superiors'? I'll sweep it to the AD...

    AD: Should I get Joe's friend arrested? Ill tell the VP...

    VP: Better not andger Joe, just tell Jerry not to bring any more kids to campus..

    November 8, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Max

    Having read the indictment, and what witnesses have said, it is sad that this went on as long as it did. And that such immorality would be swept under the rug is AWFUL. Yes, he was a long time friend to Paterno, but loyalty to what is morally right trumps loyalty to friendship ANY DAY! And this is when more than one person should have made their stories known, this Sandusky guy was a monster.

    November 8, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • 1984

      The Catholic Church sweeps it under the rug.

      November 8, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Karla

    He needs to do the right thing and step down.

    November 8, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Data13

    Rumors are circulating on Facebook that Urban Meyer has purchased a home in Boalsburg, PA just outside of State College, PA....

    November 8, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      Oh please...we heard the exact rumor here in Cbus after Tressel resigned. Everyone seemed to know somebody who knows someone who laid a new floor or installed new cabinets in Urban's new house somewhere in Columbus. But no one could agree in which neighborhood or suburb it was located. And there was absolutely no coverage about in the press.

      November 8, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  12. jennyy

    may joe thought jerry was giving the boy a prostrate exam

    November 8, 2011 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      A prostrate exam? Really? That's funny to you?

      November 8, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  13. 1984

    Moral obligation. Again what about the POPE doesn't he have a moral obligation too or is he exempt from being Moral about the abuses going on in the Church. Whats good for the goose is good for the gander... don't see any of these media boys bringing things like that up. Easy to attack someone like Joe P. a little harder to attack the POPE. The political pressure would be too much so all you MEDIA people turn a deaf ear to one it comes to the POPE and the decades of abuse that what on in the pews .

    November 8, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  14. skinsfan

    You need to get off you high horse. Joe told the person he needed to. It's not his job to judge and jury. What if the alogation was false? Joe is owed the benifit of the doubt here. He did what he was supposted to do – end of story. It was not his job to determin guilt just as it is NOT YOURS either!

    November 8, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Al T

      Yes, he passed it on, a full day after he was told. How do you people justify that crap?

      November 8, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • SuperSeena

      shut up idiot...imagine if it were your son or're sick in the head you sports would have been in that chain of people who did nothing

      November 8, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • JMazz

      Some one tells you that your former assistant coach is sodamizing a 10 year old boy and all you do is call an administrator and wash your hands of it? It never crosses your mind that no crimal charges are made? It never bothers you that the victim is not identified and helped? It never bothers you that Sandusky is free to continue ruining other lives? REALY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      November 8, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Uniblob

      No it is not his job to determine guilt; it is his moral obligation to report a crime. And when the crime is as horrid as this one, the obligation is that much more important. Let's lay this out straight; Paterno made a decision that his football program was more important than this child's life. He should go to jail for that.

      November 8, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Karen

    Wish I had time to read all the comments. However, just have time for mine. I think he should resign as he did not go any further to protect those young boys from that monster. He should have been stopped way back when.

    November 8, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
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