By Matthew Guba, PSU ’07
I am going to preface this with a bit of background information, so any allegiances are fully disclosed and everything said can be interpreted with that in mind.
I graduated from Penn State in 2007. My brother graduated from Penn State 5 years earlier. My mother, uncle, 2 aunts, grandfather, great-grandfather, etc. graduated from Penn State. When I was a kid I was given a Penn State flag for a Christmas gift. When I was in grade school I had to write an opinion piece and I chose, “Why Penn State is the greatest college.” (A bit naive, granted). PSU is in my blood.
With that in mind, when this sexual assault news broke I was shocked. There were never any rumblings about it before hand and it was completely out of the blue. The entire thing is completely disgusting, and saddens me to be associated with it in any way shape or form. The outcry from around the country is completely justified. But in the end, I’m left with more questions than anything else based on how the university is handling this atrocity (scandal, in my opinion, is not nearly a strong enough a term).
I do fail to make the connection with how focused the hunt is for Joe Paterno. I will never know what actually happened, or why it happened; no one outside of those involved will for that matter. Because the outcome for Sandusky is clear (he needs to be jailed for life…honestly, this is a case where I would support the death penalty – he doesn’t deserve our tax dollars to live in prison) I am focusing on the surrounding fallout. I am likely missing something, but my breakdown of the events in as few words as possible is this:
Mike McQueary, a GA in 2002, reports witnessing Sandusky sodomizing a child on the Penn State campus to Joe Paterno. Joe then proceeds to inform the AD. Sandusky fired, asked not to associate with the school ever again.
What I surmise from this is that McQuery was following protocol from the university in reporting the incident to Joe Paterno. Joe was then following protocol in reporting the event to his supervisor, the athletic director.
Just out of curiosity, how has Mike been completely absolved of fault? He was the witness, and he was the initial person reporting the incident. if Joe is such a menace for not reporting to the police, why isn’t Mike? Should they both have reported the incident to the police, absolutely, but what did they have to report? Maybe there was no proof, maybe McQuery wasn’t sure exactly what he saw? Maybe it was just a terrible oversight on the part of many individuals.
Whatever the case, I’m not as quick as the media to go on a witch-hunt for JoePa. I just don’t have the necessary information to lay blame beyond the fact that Sandusky is one completely f*cked up individual.
I understand why Joe was fired, the school is trying to cut ties as soon as possible, and they can’t tolerate this behavior. I also don’t fault them for that decision. But ultimately, isn’t the university as much to blame as those being cut? Didn’t their procedures cause this to happen in the first place with how they requested Joe handle the news brought to him?
Another issue, if the incident was so disturbing, why the hell is Mike still associated with the university? If I report a child being raped in 2002, I am not working with an organization that hasn’t properly done anything about it 9 years later. How does that happen?
I also want to ask you to try putting yourself in Joe’s position. You have been good friends with, and trusted someone for 30 years. A student comes to you and reports that this person has committed an act so vile that it is nearly impossible to comprehend your trusted friend doing it. There HAS to be a level of skepticism there and I’m not sure my first move is to call the cops and report it. I feel like I would have to evaluate the situation and react in a timely fashion. In this situation, Joes reaction was probably, “I don’t have the necessary ability to evaluate the situation, that is the AD’s job.”
I don’t think firing the man is a bad decision. I can justify his actions initially, at least through the logic above. However, that was 2002. It is 2011. During the course of that time, how did Joe not seek to involve the police, or push the individual who would make that call to do so? If this came to light in 2002, maybe there’s no so much outcry against Joe. Maybe even if it happened in 2003. But for it to come to light almost 10 years later, that is a travesty.
He is at fault for taking such a cursory glance at this, but I just do not understand why he is seemingly being singled out. If the universities stance is that everyone who knew something and did nothing will be removed, then the WR coach, the AD should both be gone. In my opinion you can’t just place the coach and president as sole scapegoats. In the end, the man solely responsible is Sandusky.
Then the riots happened. This is just about the worst thing (in my opinion) that could have subsequently occurred. The point of contention here appears to be Joes dismissal. Do I think Joe should have been fired? Honestly, no (as stated above, I don’t think it was necessarily a bad decision to fire him though). He didn’t enable Sandusky (as far as I know). He didn’t try to cover anything up (as far as I know). He has always supported the school and it’s students in the highest of regards. When the library is named after you, and donations of millions of dollars to the institution have been made, which millions of students have been privileged to take advantage of, I have to give him the benefit of doubt until I know more.
But PSU school doesn’t have that luxury, they have to cut ties. However, that does not give students license to destroy the campus in a fury of incivility. What’s done is done. You can bitch and moan but it’s not going to change anything. At this point, the focus has to be using the horrible act as a way to bring attention to child abuse as an issue and try to raise awareness and prevention. In no way does flipping a news van do anything to make the university or it’s students appear to be making the best out of a messed up situation. Does make for good news coverage though:
I’ll leave with the note that I am glad this didn’t happen even a week earlier, as the final game Joe will coach was the victory that moved him into first place all time for Division I college football wins. The timing is kind of ironic: that last year, the college football coach of the year award was named after him. Last week he became the winningest coach in college history, and this week he was fired.
Amazing turn of events, especially for a man who over his 61 years of coaching has never had something less than praise from opponents and colleagues. As always, hindsight is 20/20. I will never be able to crucify Joe because I’ve seen too much good from him firsthand, and this seems so veiled to me. At this point I think everyone will have their own opinions, and maybe I would be joining the hunt for JoePas head if I weren’t fortunate enough to have shared in the good he has done. This is a sentiment I couldn’t fault people for arguing with either.
In the end I know we can agree that this is something which was handled improperly from the outset. These actions cannot be taken again, and collectively we need to use this as a launchpad to help prevent future occurrences.