By Mary Stevens
“Beat Nebraska!” was Joe Paterno’s last message to the Penn State football team the Wednesday afternoon before he was fired for not reporting to police a sexual abuse allegation within his coaching staff.
On Nov. 5, Jerry Sandusky, former Penn State defensive coordinator, was arrested and charged with 40 counts of sexual abuse of young boys.
According to the indictment, 28-year-old graduate student and assistant coach Mike McQueary witnessed Sandusky sexually abusing a young boy in the Penn Sate locker room and formally met with head coach Joe Paterno to report what he saw. Paterno notified his superiors and let them handle the situation from there. Neither Paterno nor McQuery reported the abuse to the police.
“I think he tried to do what he could,” said Matthew Van Wagoner, an English major at Westminster College. “In most jobs, there is a protocol and I think he simply followed protocol and did what he was trained to do. Whether he agreed with how the university handled the situation after that is really out of his control.”
Joe Paterno was one of the most successful and influential coaches in the history of college football. Of course he has control of the situation. That is his job. Paterno has made a living instructing men both on and off the field. For anyone to say Paterno did not have the means or the influence to do something about the situation is a complete misjudgment.
Paterno and other members of his coaching staff and authorities at Penn State had received eyewitness reports that a child predator was on the prowl, and they did nothing.
It is astonishing that these men were not courageous enough o come forward with this sort of information to the police. Regardless of how many games Paterno has won for Penn State he has failed the ultimate test: to stand up for what is morally correct.
“Somebody has to question… the moral requirements for a human being that knows of sexual things that are taking place with a child,” Pennsylvania state police commissioner Frank Noonan said. “I think you have the moral responsibility whether you’re a football coach or a university president or the guy sweeping the building. I think you have a moral responsibility to call us.”
Some Penn State students and fans have expressed concern about how this will affect the upcoming football season and whether or not they will ever find a coach to adequately replace Paterno. But at the end of the day, in light of all the real problems at Penn State, who cares if they beat Nebraska?
By Mary Stevens