U.S. Intellectual History Blog

Outrage Over The Devastation: The Stupidity Of Penn State Students, Administrators, and Coaches

[Warning: Adult content in this post; Updated: 3:26 pm, 11/10]

When the announcement was made at a news conference that the 84-year-old Mr. Paterno would not coach another game, a gasp went up from the crowd of several hundred reporters, students and camera people who were present.NYT

Why was Paterno fired? For failing to take action after reports—from a direct witness employed by Paterno—that Jerry Sandusky, ex-defensive coordinator under Paterno, had molested young boys both before and after the coordinator’s 2002 retirement. In the words of the same NYT article (bolds mine):

Mr. Sandusky had been a key part of the football program, but prosecutors have said he was a serial pedophile who was allowed to add victims over the years in part because the university he had served was either unable or unwilling to stop him.

Mr. Sandusky has been charged with sexually abusing eight boys over a 15-year span, and two top university officials — Tim Curley, the athletic director, and Gary Schultz, the senior vice president for finance and business — have been charged with perjury and failing to report to authorities what they knew of the allegations. Neither Mr. Paterno nor Mr. Spanier was charged in the case, though questions have been raised about if they did as much as they could to stop Mr. Sandusky.

It gets worse. There were graphic reports of what Sandusky did, when he did it, with whom, and what witnesses saw. Here are those reports (bolds mine):

Upon learning about a suspected 2002 assault by Mr. Sandusky on a young boy in the football building’s showers, Mr. Paterno redirected the graduate assistant who witnessed the incident to the athletic director, rather than notifying the police. Mr. Paterno said the graduate assistant who reported the assault, Mike McQueary, said only that something disturbing had happened that was perhaps sexual in nature. Mr. McQueary testified that he saw Mr. Sandusky having anal sex with the boy.

Let me see if I got this right. Paterno’s own graduate assistant told Paterno that he (meaning McQueary) saw Paterno’s famed coach, Sandusky, having ANAL SEX with a BOY, and Paterno only went to the athletic director. Not the police.

Sandusky, furthermore, left the program in glory in 2002. He was celebrated on Penn State’s field, with Paterno’s approval, after retirement. Paterno lauded Sandusky’s accomplishments knowing that Sandusky had anal sex with a little boy.

McQueary, by all accounts, does not appear to be a glory hound. Indeed, he reported the criminal activity of one of his supervisors—while a contingent employee on the coaching rungs—to his higher-ups. Here’s an account of that report from another NYT piece (bolds mine):

When Mike McQueary went to Penn State Coach Joe Paterno’s house on the morning of March 2, 2002, he was a graduate assistant — the lowest rung on the coaching ladder beneath Paterno. Still, McQueary, 28 years old and a football lifer, had aspirations of one day becoming a head coach, maybe even at Penn State.

A former quarterback for Paterno, he had once been a fan attraction for his shock of bright orange hair and his State College roots. Popular and known for an easygoing, collegial manner, he was beginning the baby steps toward his dream job.

Nine years later, what McQueary told Paterno at that meeting — he had seen a former senior football coach molesting a young boy in the football building’s showers. …

According to findings laid out by state investigators, only two Penn State employees were known to have witnessed Sandusky committing a sex crime: a janitor, who now has dementia and is not competent to testify, and McQueary.

Now, his account of what happened in 2002 (bolds mine):

On Friday, March 1, 2002, in an episode that those close to McQueary say left him shocked and confused — and that would return to haunt his life and the fortunes of his university years later — he entered the locker room in Penn State’s Lasch Football Building at about 9:30 p.m. to put a new pair of shoes in his locker and pick up some recruiting tapes, according to the report of the grand jury that investigated the allegations involving Sandusky. Coaches commonly keep late hours but not so much in the off-season months, like March. Besides, the lights were not on in the offices, but toward the locker room. That is not usual. And a shower was running.

According to the report, McQueary heard “rhythmic, slapping sounds,” which he believed to be those of sexual activity. He walked to his locker, opened it and put his sneakers inside. He then turned his head and looked into the shower.

He has said under oath that he saw Sandusky raping what appeared to be a 10-year-old boy. He immediately left, met with his father and determined he would report the incident to Paterno, according to prosecutors. A person familiar with his account said McQueary did not spare the details when he met with Paterno.

Fastforward to last night (excerpts from the first NYT story linked, bolds mine).

After the announcements about Mr. Spanier and Mr. Paterno, the news conference immediately took on a frenzied and somewhat vitriolic tenor. Angry questions were shouted at Mr. Surma, who responded to them while the other board members sat behind him and to his sides. One cameraman repeatedly said, “Your campus is going to burn tonight.”

Scores of students poured into the streets downtown in the immediate aftermath of the news conference. Many held up cellphones to take pictures and others blew vuvuzelas and air horns. A few climbed lampposts, tried to topple street signs and knocked over trash cans. Others set off firecrackers from the roofs of buildings, and a television news truck was flipped on its side. A lamppost was torn down and police pepper-sprayed some in the crowd.

“I just don’t think it’s right that JoePa’s losing his job,” Corey Davis, a 23-year-old senior studying international politics, said. “All the facts aren’t out, we don’t even know he’s done anything wrong. Joe’s the fall guy.”

A number of students went to the coach’s house, where Mr. Paterno and his wife, Sue, spoke with them.

Dressed in a baggy gray pullover sweater, Mr. Paterno waved his hand and started to walk back inside. A student yelled, “We are Penn State,” the frequent rallying cry. Mr. Paterno stopped and turned around to say: “That’s right. We are Penn State, don’t ever forget it.”

Many students have shown their support for Mr. Paterno with large rallies outside his home and at Old Main. After he was fired, thousands of people gathered in front of the administration building, throwing objects and chanting “We want Joe!”

Here is more from a third NYT article (bolds mine, article later updated):

“I think the point people are trying to make is the media is responsible for Joe Pa going down,” said a freshman, Mike Clark, 18, adding that he believed that Mr. Paterno had met his legal and moral responsibilities by telling university authorities about an accusation….

Four girls in heels danced on the roof of a parked sport utility vehicle and dented it when they fell after a group of men shook the vehicle. A few, like Justin Muir, 20, a junior studying hotel and restaurant management, threw rolls of toilet paper into the trees.

“It’s not fair,” Mr. Muir said hurling a white ribbon. “The board is an embarrassment to our school and a disservice to the student population.”

Greg Becker, 19, a freshman studying computer science, said he felt he had to vent his feelings anyway. “This definitely looks bad for our school,” he said sprinting away from a cloud of pepper spray. “I’m sure Joe Pa wouldn’t want this, but this is just an uproar now, we’re finding a way to express our anger.”

Kathryn Simpson walked crying arm-in-arm with a friend.

“I’m here because I just need to be with the rest of my school right now,” she said. “This is devastating for us.”

Reflections

This is what happens when an institution allows football and “the college life” to be the central tenets of higher education. When a school markets itself around a football program, to sell its academic programs(?) to 18-year old young men, it has to expect the consequences.

Furthermore, when you allow for, or create, an anti-academic and anti-intellectual environment on campus, one should not be surprised when reaction supersedes morality, reflection, and common sense in a crisis situation. Rather than stopping and thinking, the students are acting stupidly. They’re acting in a way that corresponds to the intellectual culture of the campus.

It is a sad day for Penn State. The students are outraged over the wrong things. They will see this over time, I hope. At that point, they and their parents should be outraged over the priorities of both their school and higher education in general.

Until the consumers demand something different, higher education will continue to cater to their desires.

I don’t think it’s mere serendipity that Andrew Hartman is pointing us, today, to a collective review of books on the state of higher education. We absolutely must attend to those assessments, keeping in mind the vivid story above about Joe Paterno, Jerry Sandusky, Mike McQueary, and the unnamed little boy victimized by both Sandusky and a system. – TL

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[Update #1—Even an ESPN guy agrees that Paterno had to go. Here is a key passage from Mark Schlabach’s write-up: Penn State’s board of trustees fired legendary football coach Joe Paterno — effectively immediately — because it was the only decision it could make. …Finally, adults with backbones and courage made a prudent decision at Penn State. Paterno was fired because he failed miserably while making the biggest decision of his life.]

[Update #2—Chicago Tribune sportswriter David Haugh relayed the following observations this morning: Shed no tears for Joe Paterno. Save your pity for the innocent boys who will grow up into tortured men, not JoePa. …Had Paterno picked one up 13 years ago and called the most powerful law-enforcement official he knew in the state, not just the top campus cop, he might have saved innocent boys from an alleged pedophile — and quite likely his job, his school and his legacy. …So what were the Penn State students possibly thinking as they rioted all over campus and tipped over cars and a satellite truck? When will they realize, after the buzz wears off and sobering reality sinks in, that they were defending the right to cover up pedophilia? ]

[Update #3—Somehow I missed this story from yesterday’s NYT. Here are some excerpts (bolds mine): In 1998, the Penn State campus police and local law enforcement authorities investigated an allegation that Jerry Sandusky, then a prominent coach with the university’s football team, had engaged in inappropriate and perhaps sexual conduct with a boy in the football facility’s showers. A lengthy police report was generated, state prosecutors said. The boy was interviewed. A second potential victim was identified. Child welfare authorities were brought in. Sandusky confessed to showering with one or both of the children. The local district attorney was given material to consider prosecution. In the end, no prosecution was undertaken. The child welfare agency did not take action. And, according to prosecutors, the commander of the university’s campus police force told his detective, Ronald Schreffler, to close the case.]

22 Thoughts on this Post

  1. I’ll be having a long, serious talk with my college (not Penn) freshman when she comes home for Thanksgiving. Her generation doesn’t understand what my generation went through to even get laws against sexual harassment and molestation passed. I’ll be looking up court cases to show her what the world was like before we had laws requiring the various types of abuse to be reported. I already told her when she went off to college to report all crime to law enforcement first, to the college authorities second.

  2. I watched a lot of the press conference last night. Firing Paterno was purely an act of CYA by the trustees. The guy who spoke, the vice-chairman of the board (John Shurma or some such), came off as a duplicitous slimeball with a mien that makes used car salesmen look like saints in comparison. I’d trust Paterno over him to the end of this universe and the next five. That said, nothing short of a complete immolation will purify Happy Valley. That includes Paterno, Shurma, and everyone else. And it will. The board of trustees will be purged with more haste than Stalin purged his Politburo. They know it just as much as everyone else in the Commonwealth.

    Penn State, Temple, Pitt, and one other school I can’t think of exist in a kind of quasi-independent status in which they are officially state schools, but pretty much get to run their own affairs. Only a fool would think that will stay the same, at least for Penn State. This will be all the excuse the legislature needs to put the public back in public university. Save for the circumstances, that might not be such a bad thing. As a public university, PSU represents the people. And this is what they’ve represented to the world. No thanks.

    On the other hand, there are plenty of the usual suspects in sports journalism trying to capitalize on this to attack college sports, college football, etc. in a way which they usually can’t, because they know they’ll get traction this time because of the crimes being alleged. I suspect they’ll get nowhere this time, either. And perhaps they also should wonder if it makes any positive contribution to add their hysteria to the hysteria that cases of child abuse naturally engender (not always with justification). And the next time these people demand that the judicial process be allowed to take its course, well, hopefully they won’t be so hypocritical or forgetful as to utter such inanities.

    And, of course, a lot of what happens will depend on how the alumni feel. If they agree with the decision, that’s one less source of arrows for the trustees’ backs. But if they feel the trustees sold out Paterno to save their own skins, well, no university can afford to alienate its alumni, and the only question in that case will be who and how many will be sacrificed to appease their wrath.

    It’s cynical to say so, but I think also realistic. It will all come down to what will cost Penn State more (money) in the long run.

  3. @Nazani14: Just to be clear, we’re talking Penn State and ~not~ the University of Pennsylvania.

    @Varad: It may be a CYA move in the present, but there is no questioning that Paterno had to go for CYA activities in the past. Because public universities have been pushed by their state legislatures into using more and more tuition funds over the years, most all state universities are virtually independent of the states they “represent.” I think I read a few months ago that the University of Missouri receives only around ten percent of its operating funds from the State of Missouri. States, in my opinion, will not want to pay the literal price to regain control of their institutions. – TL

  4. Tim: PSU and the others actually have some sort of legal or administrative status that makes them quasi-independent of the rest of the state university system in Pennsylvania. This came up earlier this year or last when the legislature was debating the academic appropriation for the fiscal year. I can’t remember the specific issues, but there was a lot of grumbling from Harrisburg about the schools demanding autonomy on the one hand, and then holding out their hat to the taxpayers with the other. You may be right about the states not wanting to spend the dollars to make the universities actually public again, but it would not be particularly difficult for the state legislature to punish Penn State by reintegrating it into the public university structure. PSU would no longer be of the state system but not in it. It was this loss of autonomy that I had in mind.

  5. Tim, I agree with your outrage, but I would argue that we need to work harder to understand the history of how big-time athletics became a central part of American universities. It’s easy to side with Hofstadter and say this is all a result of American “anti-intellectualism,” but the roots of present-day American intercollegiate football actually go back to the academic intellectuals of the Progressive Era. I talk about this in my forthcoming book, and I will also be touching on it in my paper next week at the 4th annual USIH conference. I would be happy to do a guest post on the blog, if there is space for it.

  6. Brian: I am with you on the Progressive Era roots of football on campuses. I certainly didn’t mean to imply that the increased profile of football was the ~result of~ anti-intellectualism. Rather, I said that when higher education make “the collegiate way” (which includes football but covers more extracurriculars) the selling point for college attendance, they invite an anti-intellectual environment on campus. I realize that Paula Fass first argued this (approximately at least) in 1977 with her history classic The Damned and the Beautiful, but I hold to the truth she uncovered for us.

    I’d love a guest post here that intertwines your work with this present situation. That’d be awesome–for you and us, methinks. – TL

  7. As a person who teaches in Philadelphia I have to say its difficult to adequately express how much PA people love their football. While out and about with my kids today I saw people PROUDLY sporting Penn State clothing. However, to me it isn’t really about football, or the status of sports in higher education. Tenured Radical had an interesting post linking child sexual abuse to the larger climate which tolerates frequent sexual abuse of women. I found that perspective fascinating because ideologically the analysis of second wave feminism moved from sexual assault against women and then to child sexual abuse with an understanding that patriarchy perpetuated the ability of men who abuse to continue. Makes for an interesting contrast to progressive era moral reform movements esp age of consent laws.

  8. @Michelle,

    As a person who lived in Chicago and has lots of friends in Wisconsin (aside from a dad who loved the Kansas City Chiefs and college football, and a friend who is a Penn State fan), I know all-too-well the I-love-football crowd. I’m with you.

    You’re absolutely right that this isn’t just about big-time college sports and football. As you and Brian noted, this is an old topic dating to the Progressive Era and the 1920s. But I’m pretty sure that 24-hours news, ESPN, and money have made it worse over the last 30 years.

    But you’re not talking about those factors. You and TR are talking patriarchy. It’s hard to deny that, and I won’t even try. The parallels between the Catholic priest-abuse scandal and the all-male-bravado of sports culture are too easy to draw, and no less valid for the ease of drawing them.

    To me, it’s about power in the end. The power that comes with revenue, with controlling people’s lives, and with controlling the future of the young—the ability to please, to devastate, or “make” someone else who is powerless. That comes with patriarchal and matriarchal societies, I suspect.

    It’s also probably sadistic, in terms of the youth worship that goes on in America. The sadists perceive and scorn the power of youth, therefore they subject youth to their power.

    – TL

  9. Imagine such intellectually dishonesty in an editorial with such a pretentiously named blog. Fact is, Paterno was lynched in a media frenzy that Pennsylvania’s two-bit politicians find an irresistable band-wagon for appearing to stand solidly on higher moral ground. It is now politically incorrect to defend him, but my opinion of you is that you have the courage and intellect of a cow.

    McQueary reported what he saw to Paterno, and Paterno reported what McQueary told him to the athletic director. It seems to me that both must have been adhering to administrative protocol in sending this ugly news up the university chain of command. But wait … no, Paterno was suppose to have done more because he’s … well, Joe Paterno, and so he should have gone directly to the cops and ignored what was probably university protocol to be adhered to at possibly no small professional risk for not doing so. Paterno’s position is not one bit admirable, and it isn’t fair to just unload on him for actually doing what was expected of him in circumstances that now evoke such strong knee jerk reaction.

    I’ll just ask you this: If McQueary, who has coveted Paterno’s job for a decade or more, was so disturbed by what he saw, why didn’t he go to the police and report it? Why is he somehow less culpable than you obviously find Paterno?

    — MS, Pittsburgh.

  10. MS-

    Joe Paterno was told what happened between a person he had worked with for over 30 years and saw on a regular basis and a child. He did what he thought was right and what is required by law, and reported this up the chain of command. Some might say he should have gone directly to the police but he did go to the head of the campus police and perhaps that is what was the same thing in his mind. But over the next several months and years Paterno saw this person regularly, he was around the team and the campus all the time according to every report. Did Paterno ever confront him, ask him if the police had contacted him, ask him if he had been sent to counseling?

    Paterno has more power and authority than any other person in Western, PA, he was in a position to know if anything had been done to follow up on the allegations made and he did not. A failure of moral authority when children’s lives and well being are at stake does seem like a fire-able offensive for a college football coach. I disagree with your assessment that if Paterno had violated protocol and gone to the police his job would have been in danger – no one would have had the audacity to try to fire Joe Paterno for protecting children. I agree that McQueary could have and should have done more, I do not think anyone here is saying McQueary is less culpable, and I believe he should be fired as well.

    If a college professor had been accused of the same crime that professor would have been in custody before the sun came up again, but in this case every person who knew what had happened and stood by silently for the next several years – thereby allowing it to happen again and again – should not be allowed to represent the university. If Paterno’s boss, the Athletic Director, has been arrested for covering up what he knew (in part from Paterno) then how can anyone in good conscience allow Paterno to take the field on Saturday?

    Paterno was a great coach and has done so much for Penn State that it is unmeasurable. But that does not mean he is perfect and it certainly does not excuse him from allowing children to be placed in harms way by turning a blind eye to the behavior of someone he worked along side for more than three decades.

    I am sorry you believe that he has been lynched or that the contributors to this blog are somehow ignorant to your reality. This has nothing to do with political correctness or a lack of courage. This has everything to do with your inability to step back from your powerful associations with all of the good Paterno has done in his life and see that through this incident he has forfeit his ability to represent the university and the state of Pennsylvania.

  11. McQueary’s inaction, which has been the focus of a great deal of rage on sports radio the past few days, reminds me of the
    Milgram experiment, which is fresh in my mind because I just read George Cotkin’s excellent “Morality’s Muddy Waters” with my graduate students. One of Cotkin’s chapters deals with the My Lai massacre, which has often been interpreted through the lens of Milgram, since it seems to lend evidence to the thesis that people will do horrible things for authority figures. Cotkin ultimately concludes that this is not a sufficient explanation of the radical evil that occurred in My Lai, that the individuals involved had choice, agency, and thus moral culpability. I agree, and think this is true for McQueary as well, especially since his situation was so much less dire than the soldiers in Vietnam. And yet, Paterno was the quintessential authority figure in McQueary’s world, and Sandusky was in that web of authority. Milgram concluded that 70% of people will do awful things in the name of authority. Is McQueary merely one of this 70%?

  12. Andrew,

    Thanks for bring George into this conversation. I agree with your Milgram experiment analogy. [BTW: I hope your students are enjoying the book? Or at least appreciating it?]

    This Slate.com article goes to some of what you’re saying, as well as what I’ve wondered, about McQueary. The author, Josh Levin, also analogizes this to the 1964 Kitty Genovese case—which I thought George mentioned in his book, but I just checked the index and the case is not referenced.

    – TL

  13. Yesterday my students asked me what I would have done if I had been in McQueary’s situation. (I blogged about it here.)

    I’m sure my response in that situation would be immediate and visceral — I just don’t know what that reaction would look like. Would I immediately, physically intervene to protect the child and then call 9-1-1-, or would I be so startled and shocked that I would sink into something like stunned paralysis?

    The worst part of this story is not that one particular person didn’t act decisively at the right moment in order to put a stop to this abuse — it’s that the whole system worked to make sure that, no matter who said what, the whole system remained undisturbed.

    In terms of assigning individual moral culpability, it probably matters why McQueary didn’t call 9-1-1: because he was trying to figure out how to report this situation in a way that didn’t damage his future career prospects, or because he was so shocked that he truly didn’t know what to do?

    But having everyone focus on individual moral culpability — making this about what person X or person Y should have done, and assuming that a different response would have resulted in a different outcome — is yet another way that the whole system protects itself.

    I would like to think that I would have responded to these incidents much differently. I’m pretty sure that I would have. But I’m also afraid that, given the robust resilience of the self-protective system, it wouldn’t have made much difference. That’s no excuse not to do something. It’s just an observation about why nothing much ever seems to get done.

  14. Now this is more like it. Here’s the news (bolds mine):

    At 9:30 p.m. Friday, a candlelight vigil in support of victims of child abuse will be held, an effort organized by students. There will be speakers, including a victim of sex abuse in another case, performances of the Penn State Blue Band, a marching band, and an a cappella group called Nota. There will be a moment of silence when the clock strikes 10 p.m. at the Old Main building on the Penn State campus.

    The vigil is expected to present a different message than late Wednesday, when students who opposed Paterno’s firing rioted.

    “We are just as horrified, if not more than a lot of people,” said Kyle Harris, 21, a senior who is one of the vigil organizers. “We want to make an impact. We want to show these kids we care.”

    Tammy Lerner, director of the Foundation to Abolish Child Abuse, said her group plans to hold another vigil around 7 p.m. Saturday to promote awareness about abuse and other issues related to the recent developments — such as university transparency and protocols over the issue, legislative change and focus on those who have been abused.

    “This whole thing has not been victim-centered,” she said of the varying responses to the allegations.

    Kudos to these students. – TL

  15. This situation certainly has taken ahold of society – both within the sports world and the intellecutal community. With regards to the actions of the Penn State students, they seemed to be reacting to the abrupt dissmissal of THE most legendary and longest standing coach in the history of college football. To them, the firing of Paterno for allegations by one of his adsistants 10 years ago seemed to quick to judge. I do not believe for 1 second that those students who were protesting did not have sorrow for the victims, or that they believed that football was more important that sexuall abuse, rather they believed that someone that was central and important to their university was now gone.

    Anyone who knows the legacy and history of Joe Paterno will realize that he has built his illustrious reputation on morality and ethics. From graduating players, to donating money to never giving in to situations that sometimes plague college coachs over recruiting. Maybe I am naive, but it seems hard for me to believe that all of the facts of this horrific story have come to light. Obviously Sandusky is the antagonist in this dillema, but how far do we go when considering the moral obligations of the ‘man in charge’ – Paterno?

    The argument of the ever-increasing anti-intelligence of today’s society, especially within the sports community in colleges, definitely has legs. From the cover-up of boosters giving money, to the way in which some student-atheletes are allowed to get away with things, universities need an overhaul to be sure. This situation may well lend itself to the beginning of this process, but to taint the image of a man that has been a coach for 61 years seems a rough way to start. Paterno, assuming that he was naive to this situation and thus not part of this horrible cover up, has worked 3/4 of his life for a university with a certain code of ethics, for him to throw it away and cover something like this up seems unlikely to me.

    McQueery seems to be the hardest person to judge in this saga. He is the hero for reporting this atrocity, and the villian for 1) not stopping it 2) not calling the police immediately and 3) [probably] not explaining the event properly to Paterno for fear of revenge from Sandusky and out of respect of a 75 yr old man – Paterno. Report state that he may have used the word ‘horseplay’ when reporting the event to Paterno. Now it is never OK to ‘horseplay’ with a child in the shower at 9:30 at night, but all we can judge Paterno on is the way in which McQueery described the event. It makes all of the difference in the world how it is explained. The difference between ‘horseplay’ or ‘anal sex’, will sway my opinion of Paterno.

    What to do with this situation is yet to be seen. Were the moves to fire Paterno and the President legit or premature? Was Paterno acting immoral by not going to the police? Was the whole thing a cover up to keep Penn State from being in the headlines, or was it followed through with and never proven? As George Cotkin (reading Morality’s Muddy Water’s in Dr. Hartman’s class) states, “answers supplies are few, [but] the quandaries are multiple.”

  16. I think the hagiographical aspect of Paterno’s reputation, and the need of so many to believe in his goodness, is an important part of the structure that allows such predation to continue. He is probably a really good guy — but as the apotheosis of goodness and manly virtue, the *figure* of Joe Paterno in the public mind serves to sanctify the Way Things Are.

    I should note that I am posting this comment while sitting on the 40 yard line of a raucous football stadium, waiting for the kickoff to start the second half.

    This scandal has prompted me to ask myself, What is it, exactly, that I love about football? No answers yet. But it’s a good game so far.

  17. When this story first broke, I felt that Joe Pa was getting a raw deal in the matter. He was fired so quickly, without even being able to give his side of the story. I was outraged that he had done everything he was supposed to do. Without hearing the specifics of what happened in the locker room that night, he told the graduate student to go talk to the Athletic Director. Joe Pa had known very little of the incident and was turned into a martyr because he is/was the face of Penn State.

    Now, however, I have a completely different take on the situation. Mr. Lacy brought up a great point, which I believe completely and what is disgusting about college football. Why is Joe Pa the face of an academic university? Why is a football coach the most notable figure, with statues paraded on campus devoted to a coach. Penn State has lost sight of what is most important about its institution, the learning that is supposed to be taking place in the classroom. The ignorant students who took to the streets to protest Paterno’s firing and those who wore the shirts in support of him at the game on Saturday need to get back in the classroom and learn something. Penn State will likely lose their football program for at least 2 years because once the Justice Department gets involved, sanctions will be swift and damning. Penn State will be able to refocus itself on academia, which some other Big Ten institutions and football programs all over the country should realign themselves with. Most colleges lose money with their football program; instead of wasting all of that money in a football program, why not allot that money to general scholarship funds? Institutions need to refocus on academia and stop by trying to putting all of their focus of winning the BCS title.

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