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.

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

    Does this mean the Pen State band is gonna adopt the theme song to "The Love Boat."

    November 8, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stewie

      I heard it was going to be an all boys school...bad joke I know

      November 8, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  2. d from east coast

    I've just reviewed the jury report again... the University police investigated the 1998 allegation, NOT outside law enforcement – HOWEVER – THE CENTRE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY DECIDED THAT NO CRIMINAL CHARGES WOULD BE FILED. THE DETECTIVE (from the university) WHO INTIALLY INVESTIGATED THE ALLEGATION WAS TOLD BY THE HEAD OF THE UNIVERSITY POLICE TO CLOSE THE CASE DOWN. this is directly from PAGE 19 OF 23 FROM THE THE JURY REPORT.

    November 8, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  3. connie

    Someone needs to call for one of those flash mobs on the campus, at the athletic building or an the game or whereever Paterno is and find out where Sandusky is and call for one there too and beat the living daylights out of them and run them out of town.

    November 8, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  4. BJ Bell

    It's time to go Joe - this happened on your watch, do everyone including yourself a favor and bow out gracefully.

    November 8, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  5. DrJ

    Getting rid of Joe Paterno would be disastrous to Penn State football. I am sure Joe did whatever was appropriate concerning this issue. I know if I was supporting Penn State financially in any way, and they fired Joe Paterno, I would pull every dime of support away from the university. Joe has given his life to Penn State, and has been a great asset to their football program. He is the kind of guy you couldn't replace. His dismissal would be a real black eye for school.

    November 8, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Vic

      You're another imbecile. The black eye for the school is this horrible incident. Do you think this is going away next week? Massive lawsuits are coming and you know more victims will come forward. This goes beyond Paterno's legacy so it's time to take your head out of his a*s.

      November 8, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • DrJ

      This is just like the Herman Cain deal. They want Paterno out, so they will dig up some crap that happened years ago and should have been handled at that time, and use it to route him out. New age politics.

      November 8, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mike P

    There is only one question to ask Joe Paterno and anyone else involved: If the alleged victim had been your grandson, would you have done the same thing? The answer, of course, is no, and so they are guilty of puting themselves and the university above possible victims at their expense. No excuse for it. The irony, of course, is that had they done the right thing, it would have been a great example for other organizations on how to do the right thing AND have it all turn out better for all. Instead, we get the same story, which is old men protecting their fake legacy. Boy Scouts, church, the list goes on and on, and they NEVER learn.

    November 8, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Deathstalker

    If there is anyone to blame it is Joe's boss end of story. That or the kid that seen it and his father should have gone to the police. I know if I walked in on something like that no matter where it was even at the age of 10 or more I would have reported it to the police or had my father do it.

    November 8, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Ileana

    He is as guilty as him.....two monsters......should both burn in hell

    November 8, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  9. StXavier

    I'm not a sports fan an my coment on Joe Paterno isn't out of place, all children are our future an they needs to have an up bringing in the right an moral way. Any one who takes advantage of a child for his or their pleasure in any unmoral way should face quick an painful judgment short of DEATH.

    November 8, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Rooster Cogburn

    Great college coach, but IF he was aware of abuse, he should have notified law enforcement, no ifs ands nor buts about it!

    November 8, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  11. ladyin pa

    when it all comes down, watch JoPa he is going to claim dementia and not remember anything...

    November 8, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Mitch

    Disgraceful Penn State, disgraceful...

    November 8, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Will

    PSU Nittany Child Rapists

    November 8, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Will

    "oops, I just walked in on some old guy buttf ucking a child! let's call my dad instead of the POLICE!"

    November 8, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • George Patton

      A very typical Tea Party comment by a very typical Tea Partier! Please, no more of this Tea Party lingo here!

      November 8, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Stephanie

    I really cannot believe how many people are saying he did all that was necessary since he did not personally witness the incident that was reported to him. It is required by law to report even SUSPECTED child abuse or neglect. Don't bother arguing with me because I work for the abuse hotline and I know ALLL about it. It's not slander, it's doing the right thing, and NOT reporting suspected abuse is illegal, not to mention wrong. It's obvious that multiple people involved did not do what they should have done in this situation, and it is definitely not Paterno alone who is to blame, but if you honestly think that with allegations this severe and perverse that it's better to do the bare minimum, then you're just as sick and unprotective of children as Sandusky. Just sick.

    November 8, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44