Keeping Score

‘Every Day Was a Mistake’: How Should Penn State Deal with Joe Paterno?

The Freeh Report accused the legendary coach, and other Penn State leaders, of concealing Jerry Sandusky's misdeeds. Will JoePa's legacy ever recover?

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Ned Dishman / Getty Images

Head coach Joe Paterno of the Penn State Nittany Lions walks on the sideline during the game against the University of Akron Zips at Beaver Stadium on September 5, 2009 in State College, Pennsylvania.

Don’t blame football. That was Joe Paterno’s message to the world about a month before his death. In December, Paterno penned an opinion piece that was made public on July 11, a day before an independent investigation concluded Paterno and other senior Penn State officials tried to cover up Jerry Sandusky’s crimes. In the op-ed, which makes no mention of Sandusky’s victims, Paterno wrote: “I feel compelled to say, in no uncertain terms, that this is not a football scandal.”

Louis Freeh, the former FBI director who led the probe into the university’s handling of the Sandusky affair — and found that the university bungled it with tragic consequences — thought differently. Among the “cause[s] for this failure to protect child victims and report to authorities” — a negligent board of directors, failure to comply with federal crime reporting laws,  a “striking lack of empathy” — Freeh listed “a culture of reverence for the football program that is ingrained at all levels of the campus community.”

(MORE: Penn State Probe: Freeh Report Reveals Paterno, Administrators Concealed Facts)

So it’s very much a football scandal, says Freeh. Who do you believe at this point? The man whose team interviewed over 430 people connected to the case, and analyzed over 3.5 million documents and emails? Or Paterno, who likely perjured himself before his death, since he told a grand jury he was not aware of a 1998 sexual assault about Sandusky, even though Freeh’s evidence revealed that he did?

This was always about football. The investigation said that it was “reasonable to conclude that, in order to avoid the consequences of bad publicity, the most powerful leaders at the university — [former Penn State president Graham] Spanier, [former senior V.P. Gary] Schultz, Paterno, and [Penn State athletic director Tim] Curley — repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky’s child abuse from the authorities, the university’s board of trustees, the Penn State community, and the public at large.”

By protecting football, Penn State was protecting the entire university. “Football and the university melded at Penn State,” says Charles Yesalis, emeritus professor of health policy and administration at Penn State, who lived and taught in State College, Pa. for 25 years before moving to Virginia a few months ago. “The sports program and the university are one, in part because Paterno was the most powerful person on campus, by far. That’s what was problematic here, what made Penn State different. I don’t know of another place where that’s been allowed to happen. There was no firewall. Other universities have sustained that firewall.”

Penn State’s perspective got warped. “When these people decided to ruin their lives to keep the reputation of Penn State and Penn State football, I wasn’t surprised,” says Yesalis, who has also co-written a new book, The Fundamentals of U.S. Health Care: Perspectives and Principles. “Very much of the behavior was cult-like. There is this arrogance that ‘we are Penn State, we are above the law.’” When he chaired a committee on athletic compliance over a decade ago, Yesalis remembers suggesting that the university hire an outside auditor to make sure Penn State was following the rules. “I hate when people talk about body language and everything,” says Yesalis. “I’m a scientist, I think it’s total bullshit. Having said that, I looked around the table, and these people thought I had antlers coming out of my goddam head, because I questioned the integrity of Penn State.”

(PHOTOS: Joe Paterno: Penn State Bids Farewell)

Will Penn State’s “culture of reverence” for the football program change? TIME asked Penn State if the school had enacted any specific measures to tone down the university’s emphasis on football, and was directed to spokesman David La Torre. He did not offer much clarity. “There has been a significant change in the highest levels of university leadership,” he wrote in an email. “The acting athletic director and football coach understand President Erickson and the Board have very clear expectations on governance and oversight. If done properly, excellence in academics and athletics can go hand in hand.” When pressed again for something more specific, La Torre’s replied that “the change in personnel helps in changing the culture.”

That’s no guarantee at Penn State. Jason Lanter, a psychology professor at Kutztown University and former president of the Drake Group, a college sports reform organization, suggests that the school start with one Freeh report recommendation: that Penn State “integrate, where feasible, academic support staff, programs and locations” for student-athletes. Why should athletes, for example, receive academic support services separate from other students? Such special treatment elevates the status of athletes on campus. “It’s time to rein it in,” says Lanter. “And bring athletes back into the university.”

As Penn State considers these reforms, the school must also grapple with Paterno’s legacy. Even some of his supporters admit it’s now harmed.  “If the report is accurate, how can it not be?” says Ed Monaghan, who played for Paterno in the late-1980s, and is now a councilman in Upper Darby Township (Pa.). “How can Joe let this happen?”

When asked if Penn State should remove the statue of Paterno outside of Beaver Stadium, Monaghan said he’d need more time to decide. (Despite Nike co-founder and chairman Phil Knight’s passionate defense of Paterno at his memorial service, Nike announced that the child-development center at its corporate headquarters would no longer be named for Paterno). At least one former player thinks the statue should stay. “To say he was covering it up is, I think, crazy,” says former Penn State tight end Mickey Shuler, who played in the NFL for 14 seasons, from 1978-1991, for the Jets and the Eagles. “I don’t believe that the football program has any [reason] to be feeling that they didn’t do what they were supposed to do. I think that as time shows itself, you’ll see that coach Paterno probably handled this thing as best he could with the information he was given. He’s not a police officer, he’s not a D.A., he’s not any of those things. But I’m sure he cooperated and wanted the truth. And he’s the only one who has said so far, ‘I would step down from my job,’ and ‘I wish I could have done more.’ I haven’t heard anyone else say that.”

Yesalis, whose mother was sexually abused as a child, and whose sister adopted two sexually abused toddlers, offers a more direct argument about the statue. “After reading that report, are you nuts?” he says. “Of course Penn State should take it down. Louis Freeh left very little for interpretation. It just drives me nuts when people say Paterno made one mistake. No he did not. Every morning that man got out of bed, being the most powerful man at the university, and didn’t do the right thing, he made a mistake. He made several thousand. Every day over a ten-year period, he let that monster rape little children and did not do anything about it. Every day was a mistake for Joe Paterno.”

(MORE: Penn State of Mind)

88 comments
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Gmcgogney
Gmcgogney

Never criticize a man until you have walked a mile in his moccasins.

Tim Berton
Tim Berton

The Boy Scouts were founded a pedophile and thousands of Boy Scouts have been sexually molested over the years. The Boy Scouts often failed to stop repeated assaults by known pedophile Scoutmasters.

 

So why not shut down the Boy Scouts?

Ditto for the Catholic Church.

Tim Berton
Tim Berton

Even if Paterno had called the police in 2001, I doubt anything would have happened to Sandusky. The 2001 incident would have been investigated by the same DA and same PA Dept.of Public Welfare as in 1998, who left Sandusky off the hook because they thought hugging boys in the showers was not a crime.

 

Tim Berton
Tim Berton

Sandusky should have been stopped in 1998 when law enforcement and child protection agencies knew he molested boys in the showers. They didn't stop him because he had powerful connections in the child protection field.

Sandusky was certified as a foster parent, adopted at-risk children, started and ran a charity for at-risk children and had contracts with county child protective services. Law enforcement and child protection agencies who failed miserably in 1998 are overjoyed that they escape blame by scapegoating Paterno and Penn State.

How many other Sanduskys are working in the child protection field and molesting children right under the noses of child protection agencies?

springsgranny
springsgranny

Yesalis is 100% right about Joe Paterno.  He should have done something years ago and not let Sandusky continue to abuse children. How can people still hold him up on a pedestal? He said himself that he should have done more only AFTER he was fired. Hindsight is 20/20 - but would he have said anything if he were not involved in the scandal? I doubt it. He's as evil as Sandusky for letting it continue.

manup
manup

they should have buried joe face down and when jerry dies they should put him face down on top of joe ....fuck both of them...

Nita Taefi
Nita Taefi

You tell it like it is.  Paterno pretended and overlooked what was going on to keep his own importance in the chain of coverup and ultimate disgrace.  No one person is guilty as are the lot who knew and/or suspected what was going on.  After all, IT'S FOOTBAWL Y'ALL!

Over578
Over578

I have come to a reasonable conclusion that this story is a joke and the Freeh report has more holes in it than Swiss cheese

Pjsplayroom
Pjsplayroom

The Report that none of you sheep read ? That report ? This is why the world laughs at our ignorance ! Fact ! Report states Attorney General restricted investigation of several key lawyers and witnesses ! Fact Two emails between curley and shultz and Paterno is guilty ? Fact in 1996-97 allegations reported to child services ,dept of walfare ,Second mile .1998 Sandusky charged ! Police and DA have victims and sandusky on tape ! ON F`ING tape! and drop the charges !!! Fact child services and the Second mile gave kids to sandusky ! NOT PENN STATE !!! Why dont all you cowards Call out the real enablers like Tom Corbett and Frank Nonan the trustees at the second mile ,child services and the dept of welfare !!! Media is full of cowards!!!

Tim Berton
Tim Berton

Absolutely right.

The psychologist of the boy molested by Sandusky in 1998 wrote a report that Sandusky was a "likely pedophile" and her colleagues agreed. She, and many others, could have done more in 1998 and stopped Sandusky then.

The Second Mile is the most guilty. They knew of the 1998 and 2001 shower incidents and continued to let Sandusky have unsupervised access of the their at-risk boys.

I think when Penn State told Second Mile about McQueary's allegations in 2001, that Second Mile assured Penn State they would make sure it wouldn't happen again.

Susan Lowe
Susan Lowe

Charles Yesalis is right. Joe Paterno got up every morning and made the decision to allow a child rapist to attack more children. I hope he's burning in hell with all the members of the Catholic hierarchy who died before governments, belatedly, began to criminally prosecute them for abetting the child rapists in their midsts.

Paul Starks
Paul Starks

Yep I agree couldn't have said it any better.

Barry Moyer
Barry Moyer

The Mickey Shulers out there who want to give JoePa a pass on what is actually criminal negligence at least, need to pull their head out of their behinds. Since when is child molestation and rape only the concern of police officers and District Attorneys? Apparently Shuler doesn't understand the concept of 'moral

responsibility'. 

Tim Berton
Tim Berton

The PA Attorney General said Paterno followed state law in reporting to his superior so it not criminal negligence.

At least a dozen people knew of McQueary's 2001 allegations against Sandusky and none called the police, so it makes no sense to put all the blame on Paterno.

Second Mile deserves far, far more blame than anyone at Penn State because they knew of both the 1998 and 2001 shower incidents and did nothing to stop Sandusky from unsupervised access to their at-risk boys.

At a minimum, Second Mile should have taken the precaution of banning Sandusky from any unsupervised access to their boys in 1998.

Dummydick
Dummydick

I have a excellant idea for ths staute of paterno.Leave it as it is but add sandusky behind paterno pressing his groin hard against paterno's ass.

Brad Holman
Brad Holman

So, in the end, Paterno's legacy will forever have been Sanduskied. Ah well, isn't it funny how all these "good ol boy" networks have hellacious skeletons in their closets that they only feel guilty for only when found out by the public at large. It seems those in power cannot be trusted by the common man. Their hypocrisy reeks all the way to the heavens. We need great change in our society at large. NOW.

Hardy Campbell
Hardy Campbell

Sooner or later the mass denial at PSU, that arrogant institution that smugly thought it was the moral bellwether for all of college football, will have to accept a simple fact; Joe Paterno was a fantastic and very successful coach and a complete and utter failure as a human being. Unfortunately, the same mentality that justified the decades long coverup is still very much in evidence today when I hear all those Pedophile Staters trying to make excuses for Paterno. In many ways, Joe Pa was an even bigger monster than Sandusky, who is, at the end of the day, simply a sick pervert. Paterno, on the other hand, was a "moral pillar" of the community who craved power, prestige and impunity above the safety and health of children. Keep your statue, delusional Paterno-Protectors, just give it the company of other tinpot dictators, next to statues of Saddam Hussein, Pol Pot and Gaddafi.

Rutnerh
Rutnerh

Sandusky is a justly convicted monster, but he also is the genius creator of the dominant Penn football legacy and mystique, not Joe, who was merely a puppet front man. The bottom line, without Jerry there would not have been a 100,ooo seat stadium built with huge alumni support. And Penn State would have been just another second tier football team in a backwater PA village.

And Joe is a criminal co-conspirator, no longer a hero worth a statue. Pull him down!

hr, not a football fan but mere observer of the sports scene.

vstillwell
vstillwell

That program needs to be shut down. 

asiaman496
asiaman496

Ok. so now you hear about a crime and did not report it , then your as guilty as the perpetrator...>>>You see a child that is bruised and dont report it then find out the child was abused so your as guilty as the abuser....

We are not our brothers keepers....And Mc the do nothing originator catches little hate from anyone....

You see this happen in the shower and do nothing....give me a break...this is the single most responsible person for allowing the abuse to continue...

Classyferret
Classyferret

I am reading the new "The President's Club* book. Here is a quote from Teddy Roosevelt that reflects my feelings that Sheeh overreached when he drew his conclusions based on circumstantial evidence: "It is not the critic who counts,not the one who points out how the strong man stumbled," he argued. "The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred with sweat and dust and blood; who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again . . . who, if he wins, knows the triumph of high achievement, and who, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly." Sheeh is overly harsh in his judgments and relies on evidence that doesn't quite prove anything about Joe Paterno or President Spanier. The evidence raises suspicions...and that should be all.

Joe knows who I am.
Joe knows who I am.

 Enjoy your stigma as a fellow enabler of child rapists. Soak deeply in it, you've earned it.

Train027
Train027

I am amazed at how much people who have never been to State College claim to know so much about it. Football is important because it unites our large community, spread across the world through generations and many majors, into one family. Football is not a problem at Penn State nor is it THE problem. Penn Staters take great pride in that we are one of two schools never to have suffered NCAA sanctions. Four people failed their responsibility and I and all Nittany Lions feel this like one of our owm family members betrayed us. Ignorant know-it-alls can take all their shots but we will clean this up because We Are Penn State.

Hunk of Tin
Hunk of Tin

Is it possible that PSU has "never suffered NCAA sanctions" because any possible infractions were never allowed to see the light of day due to the insular nature of the school? Just a thought. The hubris goes on...

Evanherik
Evanherik

 I've never been to Penn State, and I don't think it is likely I'll visit. What I know about the place is that your football team's success was built on the sexual abuse of children. And that football is very, very important to the "one family." What else do I need to know about PSU and football?

And you might give that "great pride" a rest. I think the NCAA is coming for you, if the cops don't get there first.

Ltbulldog05
Ltbulldog05

Please do not lump all of Penn State like that. Lots of great people go and went there. We are not Jerry Sandusky. State College is a great place. Yes, we are horrified at what happened, but most Penn Staters are just like students from other colleges.

Joe knows who I am.
Joe knows who I am.

 True that not all of us should be lumped in like that. But if you are a supporter of the Cult of Personality that is PSU football, and you still have the cojones to support Paterno and deny his involvement, then you deserve the scorn that you are receiving. You've earned it, now soak in it.

davecross
davecross

The NCAA needs to impose the death penalty.  PSU is rotten to the core.  The President, Sr. VP, AD, Head Coach, campus police, and probably others, conspired to protect Sandusky while he molested children.  Any institution that cannot protect the children in its care should not be allowed the privilege of conducting intercollegiate athletics.  SMU got the death penalty for a lot less than PSU has done.

Raymond Chuang
Raymond Chuang

 We may have the emotions now to force the NCAA to impose the "death penalty," but given the extremely sobering experience of the financial, athletic and political fallout from the "death penalty" imposed on Southern Methodist University in 1987, I'm not sure if the NCAA has the gumption to do it again.

I saw the movie "Pony Excess" (one of the best films of the ESPN "30 for 30" series) and I found it very sobering to watch that "death penalty" not only destroy SMU's football program, but cause a public relations collateral damage that eventually caused the demise of the Southwest Conference.

davecross
davecross

If it were to happen to PSU and the Big Ten, I would only say that no one deserved it more.

Raymond Chuang
Raymond Chuang

 Problem is, the financial damage from a "death penalty" imposed on Penn State to the Big Ten conference will be MUCH bigger than the collateral financial damage of shutting down SMU back in 1987. There is too much financial risk involved, and besides, the NCAA may not be able to impose the sanctions until probably February 2013 at earliest--and only the NCAA has the power to impose this.

INOSH
INOSH

What kind of pedophile brings his victims to his place of work?

The entitled, sociopathic kind that knows, even if he's caught in the act, he won't get in trouble.

The entitled, sociopathic kind that knows his buddies are going to pretend that they didn't see anything.

Rapist rape, because they want to rape. Who their targets are really is irrelevant.

http://yesmeansyesblog.wordpre...

Tim Berton
Tim Berton

That makes little sense.

Pedophiles go where the children are. That's why so many pedophiles are coaches, school teachers, boy scout leaders or priests who molest children where they work with the children.

JGen
JGen

Speaking out about the abuse would only have enhanced Paterno's exhalted position.   Surely, Sandusky was not so great an assistant that his abscence would have hurt Penn's football stats.  Now, Joe is as guilty as Jerry.

Tim Berton
Tim Berton

I don't understand your point about Sandusky's absence because Sandusky was retired from Penn State in 2001 when McQueary observed him in the showers.

Had Sandusky been arrested in 2001, it wouldn't have hurt the Penn State football coaching staff because he wasn't coaching.

LMcSmith
LMcSmith

Football didn't cause Sandusky to abuse those kids it gave him opportunity. I think Penn State's football program should be eliminated amp; the statue of Paterno removed. Other colleges have lost their's for far less offenses. Paterno may have done a lot for the program in the past but it is the way he ended it that will remain as his legacy.

Tim Berton
Tim Berton

What other colleges have had their football programs "eliminated ... for far less offenses?"

The NCAA has never permanently eliminated a college football program as far as I know. They shut down SMU for one year.

ellis seawell
ellis seawell

As I've said elsewhere, to prove (and good luck with that) that Penn State is about educating youth to lead tomorrows world, and that they take the abuse, and rape of children seriously (now), and have a zero tolerance policy (now) toward that sort of crime in their midst they should shut down the football program for at least a year, and longer if they are truly sorry. I know, I know...it will never happen. Penn State IS football, and that's why this outrage happened. As for Joe, he should just be forgotten. His record as a coach is forever tarnished by his failure of leadership. Let the dead bury the dead.

Tim Berton
Tim Berton

So how long should the Catholic Church and Boy Scouts be shut down for all the hundreds of pedophiles they allowed to operate in their midst?

Palerider1957
Palerider1957

So, how should Penn State handle the Sandusky scandal?

Well, let Penn State handle it the way CA is handling 66-year-old Larry Brinkin's case.Of course, the media should also do the same.So, who is Larry Brinkin? Well, he's a homosexual activist that was recently arrested in CA for possessing child porn.What, you didn't hear of this? It couldn't possibly be because the MSM hasn't really reported it, would it?Thinking of which, where is the Time story on this pervert?Where is all the media hoopla over this, like it did at Penn State?Oh, forgot, this guy is a "hero" of the liberal left and the homosexual community. Gotta keep it quiet.Here you go, read all about it. You will never see this in the MSM, like Time.http://thedaleygator.wordpress.com/20...

hmmm
hmmm

hmm...if this Brinkin person is who you say he is and was arrested on these charges (with clear evidence), I seriously doubt he will remain a hero of the homosexual community  or the liberal left.  Bit of a non sequitur to assume the media hasn't reported it much because of his past or present "hero" status.  Many suspected and convicted criminals don't find their stories in the "msm." 

hmmm
hmmm

Did a quick google search on this....does appear there are some stories emerging online to date.  Also, considering his past work it is indeed possible he will remain a hero, rightly or wrongly, to some or many even if convicted.  He may not be a big enough name for the media to take it to Paterno levels...i think that is more the issue

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