Joe Paterno fired for Passing the Buck
Penn State fired a coach whose family donated more than $4 million to the university, helping fund scholarships, faculty positions and the construction of a library that bears his name.
Penn State fired a coach who was never accused by the NCAA of breaking its rules in 46 seasons, and whose players seemingly always graduated, fostering a belief that the Nittany Lions always did things the right way, even as other major college football programs' reputations were sullied by salacious scandals involving academic fraud and illegal booster benefits.
In 2002, then graduate assistant Mike McQueary alledgedly witnessed former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky subjecting a 10-year-old boy to anal intercourse in the shower room. He then reported the incident to Coach Paterno.
A source told ESPN's Schad that Paterno hopes to clarify what he was told by McQueary as soon as Thursday. According to the source, Paterno recalls McQueary "vaguely" referencing "fondling" or "touching" or "horsing around" by Sandusky and a youth. But Paterno never had the understanding that McQueary had witnessed a "sodomy" or "rape."
Evidently Paterno did exactly what the graduate assistant did - he told his superiors at the university about the alleged incident. The police were never contacted by the witness or his superiors. It was handled internally.
My guess? At the age of 76, Joe Paterno just couldn't handle something so ugly said about a friend he had coached with for years. And after all, though Sandusky was still associated with the football program, he was no longer coaching under Paterno. So Joe decided to let his superiors at the university handle it.
So Joe passed the buck, and yesterday, with no convictions in the case and Paterno's involvement still sketchy, the 84-year-old legend was fired. Joe Paterno did so many things the right way, and so many young men were made better because of him. But sadly, he will be remembered for a lapse of judgement late in his life.
"The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones".
- William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar