Why Paterno needed to go

Penn State University football coach Joe Paterno has quit amid the child abuse scandal rocking the university.

It’s this paragraph of his statement, that raises eyebrows:


“This is a tragedy. It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.”

Two university officials have been charged with failing to report to authorities that someone saw coach Jerry Sandusky sexually abusing a naked boy in the showers of a team practice facility in 2002 (pennlive.com).

But Paterno’s earlier statement after the grand jury indictment showed why he had to go:

“The fact that someone we thought we knew might have harmed young people to this extent is deeply troubling… If this is true we were all fooled, along with scores of professionals trained in such things, and we grieve for the victims and their families. They are in our prayers.”

Paterno’s statement tilted toward the “I thought it was only one kid” excuse. There were (at least) eight, which doesn’t make one any less pathetic.

The grand jury report says Paterno had been told about the sexual abuse of an 11-year old boy in the Penn State locker room in 2002, told the university’s athletic director about the incident, but did not tell police.

In the intervening 9 years, Paterno apparently never said to a school official, “hey, whatever happened to that thing with my assistant coach sexually abusing a boy in the shower?”

In hindsight, that seems hard to believe.

Update 2:41 pmThis article, from April 2011, questions whether the relatively early “retirement” of Sandusky suggests a deal based on knowledge of pedophilia.