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. Alex

    Pack your bags Joe, you knew what was happening and you did nothing.....
    You could have saved those other boys from that dirtbag and you did nothing........
    You knew period.........time to leave your a disgrace

    November 8, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Cbus resident

    Its amazing how many people are commenting on Joe's coaching skills. They guy has won 409 games over his career. I am guessing those making the comments on his coaching are disgruntled because he probably beat your teams ass at some point. Lets get back to the real story here.

    November 8, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cbus resident

      For those not that familiar with the University, Joe is known for more than just a long term coach. He has put millions of his own dollars back into the university and community as well. Joe has become an icon in State College for more than just a coach.

      November 8, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • CB

      It appears that he has also put his stamp of approval on child molestation....
      that will look nice on his next resume

      November 8, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  3. CB

    To hell with paterno and the rest of them....
    absolutely disgusting display of spineless cowardess and total lack of concern for anyone NOT a member of the football program or a member of his family. I bet if that was one of his kids getting getting the sandusky treatment – he would have done more than he did....Plain and simple.....the kid meant nothing to him...the football program meant everything – total lack of moral just another sign of the MANY things that are wrong in the Good OLE USA

    November 8, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Art


      November 8, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • CB

      Art -
      are you free tonight? I am sure i can find some big nasty dudes to come over and give you the Sandusky treatment while you watch reruns of Penn State football games....
      How does that sound?

      November 8, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Bev

    Did anyone hear of accessory after the fact? They knew about it, covered it up, lied to the grand jury about it. They are all accessories. I don't know how they can live with themselves.

    November 8, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Get off the damn Court of Public Opinion crap!!!!

    I can see that there is a lot of people that do not work for large organizations by the amount of people ganging up on coach. If the coach would have alerted the police to a matter that proved to be false, he would have lost his job for not following company protocol and bringing a negative image to the organization. If someone tells me that one of my employees assaulted another, I must report it to security / HR / or my supervisor (minor or not) if I did not witness it myself. If I want to verify whether the accusations or true or not, I must go through HR. I agree that this is a bad situation but come on......If joe heard someone state that an adult abused a minor he must report it to his supervisor. This is not a situation where your at home, in a mall, or in the restroom of a football game and have a first-hand observation.... You have to follow protocol. The guilty party is the officials at Penn State for doing nothing, not Joe.

    November 8, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cbus resident

      Well said!

      November 8, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • BMcGee

      Forget your company hierarchy. Suspected child abuse is to be reported by law to the police and child welfare agencies. They will investigate, not your Mr. Manager-Supervisor-Section leader-Division VP-blah blah blah

      November 8, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Warren

    Don't resign Joe. The buck stops at the top, not with you.

    November 8, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Travis

    Am I the only one who sees the gigantic hole in the story here? Jerry Sandusky should be the focal point here, not Joe Paterno. Think about it for a minute, people...Paterno hears from a janitor about Sandusky's misconduct with a boy in the shower room – he does not actually witness the act itself. He therefore informs the necessary authorities of what he has been told. So many people scream of his moral failing when he did not act further. I say that it would have been a moral failure if he had done anything else. He is a football coach, not a school administrator or a circuit court judge. It is not his place to determine if the Sandusky accusations are legitimate, nor is it his place to render punishment if they turn out to be true.

    And let's not forget one very important fact – Jerry Sandusky has only been accused of these crimes. He hasn't been convicted of anything. What good would it do to smear Paterno's reputation only to find out that Sandusky was innocent? However, if it turns out that Sandusky is indeed guilty, then Paterno will no doubt have to answer some very difficult questions. Irregardless, the media scrutiny needs to be on the man accused of the crime, and not on a man who did what was both legally AND morally responsible.

    November 8, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • BMcGee

      Necessary authorities being the police, which he didn't do.

      November 8, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cbus resident

      I agree. Why is everyone commenting on Joe? Reading these posts, rarely is anyone talking about Sandusky, the man who committed the crime.

      November 8, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Travis


      Necessary authorities in this case being the school administrators, NOT the police. It is the school's job to determine whether or not the claim is legitimate and whether or not the police should be contacted. If anything, the janitor who witnessed the alleged crime should be sought for questioning instead of Paterno.

      November 8, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • usa23

      Ill bet if it was your kids sleeping over at "jerry's" you wouldbe singing a different tune !

      November 8, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • CB

      Hey Cbus resident....
      you have any kids? I'll make sure that if I ever see some molestor in an alleyway having their way with them....
      and then you can thank me later and then remove your original post.

      November 8, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • BMcGee

      Travis, suspected child abuse is by law to be reported to the police or child welfare agencies, especially by educators, who are mandated reporters. It doesn't matter if he saw it. All those who knew something are equally responsible for not notifying police. If the poor child was being stabbed, would you wait for an administrator to decide if the claim was valid?

      November 8, 2011 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Tully

    Disgusting and infuriating! Every adult involved in this cover-up should be fired and/or prosecuted. And those sick cowards should spend their golden years in prison.

    November 8, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Travis

      Nice job on the sweeping, all-encompassing condemnation of absolutely everyone having anything to do with this alleged, unproven crime. I hope you're not a judge.

      November 8, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  9. delores e jones

    Some said Paterno's time has come - Paterno's time has gone. He and everyone from the beginning are culpable in the abuse of young boys - what do you need to see beyond a kid slammed to the wall and an old, jerk-off on his knees. WHO cared about the young boy? Who? No one at that school and that includes the father of a 28 year-old-man who has to call daddy to ask what to do. Please. They're all a bunch of chicken-scratch, wanna-be players, not a one a team player. They're a disgusting bunch, the same miserable ilk. The ones seeing and not protecting these children are worse than Paterno. Can't you see them all huddled in a conference room trying to scheme their way to respectability - a character trait none of them have. What a sad group - it's laughable to read Paterno did what he was supposed to. How many of you reading this would not try and learn how the injured child was doing? That is the minimum required of any person that cares about another human being and I include Sandusky in that and his family.

    November 8, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  10. JeanneLH

    At first I was relieved when I heard that he had done what he was supposed to do, followed the proper that more information has come out...JOE!! Why the hell didn't you follow up on it? That poor grad assistant is the hero here. He was very upset and HE did the right thing. That assistant coach wrote a biography called..."Touch" How creepy is that?

    November 8, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Roby

    Get rid of Joe and you get rid of PSU Football. He's loved and adored by more people than any of you are, and rightfully so. Paterno holds 24 noel victories, more than any coach in history. He tops the list of bowl appearances with 37. He has a bowl record of 24 wins. He is the only coach with the distinction of having won each of the current four major bowls—Rose, Orange, Fiesta, and Sugar—as well as the Cotton Bowl Classic, at least once. Under him, Penn State has won at least three bowl games each decade since 1970. Speculate all you want, if he says he didn't know, he didn't know. Until EVIDENCE prove otherwise, stick to your tabloids ya whiners. Keep coaching Joe and damn the haters.

    November 8, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dean

      Are you suggesting that Joe Paterno should be allowed to get away with wrongdoing just because he is a successful football coach? While I agree with you that he shouldn't be condemned on public opinion alone, I also think it's highly inappropriate of you to list his accomplishments and statistical analysis in a discussion about child abuse and cover-ups.

      November 8, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • BMcGee

      So what. Read the grand jury report

      November 8, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. 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 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Bill

    "Happy Valley"? Not anymore, it's a cover up. Sounds like PSU was following the Catholic churches script: know something – do nothing.

    November 8, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Delder

    This is pure slander and defamation and you should be sued for it.

    November 8, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      From watching a video that covered the story over the women's basketball team discrimination and nothing was done properly and it was well known then. I don't doubt this new story was well known and didn't want to touch him because he was making them win and made them millions even billions in the games. So, if not true they didn't want to risk it to find it to be true.

      November 8, 2011 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Morg

      Joe has to go.

      November 8, 2011 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • aviguide

      seriously – his inaction caused child abuse to continue – sue the school as well!!

      November 8, 2011 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • CullThePopulace

      This old fart knew something was wrong, yet did nothing. He was worried about his old wrinkled bag of a body and that stack of cash these fools in sports toss in his face each year for coaching a bunch of testosterone-filled retards that smack each other on their butts. Nice. FOOTBALL sucks.Literally.

      November 9, 2011 at 8:42 am | Report abuse |
  15. RJ

    The Duke Lacrosse scandal from a few years ago taught us that we should never rush to judgement in these matters until we know all of the facts. When we look at Paterno's career and legacy, these events appear to be so out of character that I would have to assume that all of the facts have not yet been uncovered or released. Events should be allowed to play out before we rush to judgement and force Paterno to retire, since that is a bell that cannot be un-wrung.

    November 8, 2011 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • BMcGee

      Read the grand jury report and then comment again

      November 8, 2011 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • not even a penn state fan

      It also taught us that rich white kids can get away with almost anything.

      November 8, 2011 at 6:25 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