Saturday, November 12, 2011

I stand with the students of Penn State

On November 9, the Board of Trustees fired Penn State University fired head coach Joe Paterno. For forty five years Joe Paterno was the head coach of the football team. He built a football program that would become a national powerhouse. He won two national championships, had over 400 victories and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

But Joe Paterno was more than football victories. Putting Penn State on the map meant positive publicity for the university. That translates to getting students to come to Penn State. According to Wikipedia, he and his wife have contributed more than 4 million dollars to Penn State. That's not just to football. He helped to raise over 13.5 million dollars to expand the University's library. He dedicated his life to educate the students and the young people of Penn State.

We've read the horrible allegations about former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. Allegedly graduate assistant Mike McQuery saw Sandusky sodomizing a boy in 2002. He told Paterno. Paterno reported the incident to his Athletic Director. We don't know what details of the alleged attack was relayed to Paterno.

The allegations are horrific. Yet, put yourself in Paterno's position. On one hand he has a report of an alleged sex attack between Sandusky and a boy. On the other hand he has to weigh that against his loyalty to a long time ally and trusted assistant coach. If we don't know what was relayed to Paterno, can we judge him? He did the minimal. He reported the allegation to his AD. If the report was of a rape, then Paterno should report the alleged attack to the police.

Based on no allegation that Joe Paterno aided or assisted Sandusky in his alleged crimes, the Board of Trustees fired Paterno. And if Joe Paterno helped Sandusky commit his alleged crimes, he should be brought to justice. But there are no facts that support this. And based on the board's actions, the students went out into the streets. They did what any American had any right to do. Not to get violent. But to protest. Certainly turning over a news van was wrong. But understand the anger. The media has been whipping this story to hurricane proportions. This hurricane has swept up Joe Paterno.

So, these young people went out and expressed their anger. They saw an 84 year old man unceremoniously get thrown under the bus. They saw a man who gave his life to their education get destroyed by the winds of unthinking emotion. I applaud the protesters. They stood for fairness. The students stood up for a man who stood up for them.

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