Joe Paterno’s Legacy A Year After His Death

By Keith Potter
January 21, 2013 11:38 am
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It was nearly a year ago January 22, 2012 that former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, 85, died. A little more than a week after getting his record-setting 409th win, Paterno was dead and his storied, 46-year career began to undergo a grim revision – forever tarnished by the child sexual abuse scandal at Penn State involving former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky.

As I started to write this article to correspond with the anniversary of Paterno’s death I had the idea of contacting as many Penn State students, alumni and athletes as possible with the question as to how the Sandusky scandal affected Coach Paterno’s legacy in their eyes.

However one letter that I received from a graduate and huge supporter of PSU was stated with such passion that I was compelled to share it. Jonathan Karsh is a proud graduate of Penn State University and currently resides in Philadelphia, Pa with his wife and family.

He wrote:

“Joe Paterno did exactly as he was instructed to do. He did what the employees at PSU were recently trained to do in the wake of Sandusky's crimes. There has been no discernible evidence that Paterno was involved in a cover up. The Freeh report is highly flawed and frankly, a joke relative to a comprehensive investigation. Mike McQueary's testimony has changed a multitude of times and his "testimony" as presented in the Grand Jury presentment was in the most important and inflammatory sections, made up by the AG, Linda Kelly. 

ESPN helped create a false narrative around the story and used Joe Paterno's name and global recognition to make money. Jeremy Schaap and Mark Schwarz in particular, made reports that were completely false and perhaps, told blatant lies as to the facts of the case. Paterno, in fact, was hailed early on as the one person who did the right thing in reporting the incidents to his superiors.

The real burden should be placed on TSM (The Second Mile) and the school that allowed Jerry Sandusky to repeatedly remove Aaron Fisher from his high school. ESPN, Schaap, Schwarz and the rest of a ridiculously lazy media won't dig into those organizations because doing so wouldn't create frenzy and in turn, boost revenue. Additionally, DPW, CYS, Gov. Corbett and the University police should be held accountable for a failure to bring Sandusky to justice earlier.

My view of those in a position to stop the crimes much earlier has changed dramatically, and my opinion of ESPN and its' "reporters" is below zero. As a point of fact, ESPN and its' employees were in possession of a tape that alleged the sexual abuse of a young boy by longtime Syracuse associate head basketball coach Bernie Fine. They never presented that tape to authorities because they could not corroborate what was on the tape. I didn't realize ESPN was also involved in law enforcement. They have zero credibility and those that knew of the tape and didn't disclose it to the proper authorities should be fired and arrested for obstruction.

People like NCAA president Mark Emmert don't understand PSU at all. He sits in his office in Indianapolis and all he sees is 110,000 people in seats at a stadium. PSU doesn't have a culture any different than any other big Division One school. Paterno was about community as much as he was about football. His players graduated and he expected the rest of us non-players to do the same. He was accessible to us. He walked to work for many years.

He engaged the students and demanded of us to be better than we thought we could be. We didn't hold him in such high regard because of football. We put him on that pedestal because to the end, he was one of us. He told us we were the best and we believed it... And we still do. I'll bet other Universities think the same thing about their schools, and I would support them one hundred percent. Joe Paterno had high expectations for all students that went to Penn State and he wasn't afraid to say so. We'd be much better off if more adults did the same.”

***

Penn State football was all but dismantled by the NCAA ruling that wiped away 14 years of Coach Joe Paterno's victories and imposed a mountain of fines and penalties, ordered Penn State to sit out the postseason for four years, capped scholarships at 20 below the normal limit for four years and placed the football program on five years' probation.

By vacating 112 Penn State victories from 1998-2011, the sanctions cost Paterno 111 wins. In doing so all of the players, coaches and fans from those years essentially became collateral damage of the NCAA sanctions. The frustration of those affected pales in comparison to those of Sandusky’s victims. But still, this ruling in particular stings deep for them. They are paying the price for actions neither they nor Paterno committed, and this sanction ultimately rewrites Paterno’s entire legacy; at least for those who didn’t really know him.

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22 months ago
This is one of the first articles in the past year about Coach Paterno. ESPN went on a witch hunt.
22 months ago

The more dgging I do on the subject the more I tend to agree with you Joshua.
22 months ago
Grew up a PSU fan, and always admired Paterno, I wasn't trying to take sides or cast blame on anyone for the way the scandal was handled, but I found Jon's letter passionate and really intriguing, and I believe there are many more people out there with similar thoughts. I also wanted to mention that John's wife is a PSU graduate and he currently has a daughter attending PSU and my bet is that his son in high school will also proudly attend this still great University.
22 months ago

I love Joe Paterno and he does not deserve what has happened to him. When I think of College football I think Bear, Bowden and Joe Pa.
22 months ago

Keith- I feel pretty much like you do about the whole thing. The only part that still puzzles me is this: don't you think the police would have told Sandusky's boss-who happened to be Paterno-about the '98-'99 incident that they had taped Sandusky talking to that mother and not only admitting to showering naked with her 10 year old son, but then telling her he could not promise her that he would not do it again. I would think they must have passed that info. on to Paterno and told Joe to keep an eye on Sandusky. If that did happen, then Joe probably told the police that he would handle it. By the way, the police decided to drop it after getting advice from the DA who later turned up dead.
22 months ago

Here's an interesting read on the DA Ray Gricar, then Centre County District Attorney, who disappeared in 2005.
http://www.huntingtonnews.net/13183
22 months ago
Bob, to answer your question, no. If the police had passed any information back to anyone at the University, they would have committed a crime in the state of Pennsylvania. When Sandusky retired, his retirement agreement and access to the Penn State facilities, along with his emeritus status, was granted by the current president of the University, Rodney Erickson. The 1998 incident was investigated by law enforcement, DPW, CYS etc and was dropped. If Paterno, or the University as a whole, had done anything to censure Sandusky at that point, they would have opened themselves up to lawsuits/prosecution. The legal community failed in 1998 and did so even more miserably after 2009.
22 months ago

Thanks Jon. I hope that answers your question Bob. As I stated I didn't write this article with any bias, I do find it sad that 61 years of success has been overshadowed by the scandal and the events that led up to Paterno's firing. For those blowing up my Facebook page with the "Paterno was win at all cost" rhetoric, I think you need to dig a little deeper.
22 months ago

Jonathan-I just finished re-reading the 23 page Grand Jury Report, and we do know that in a meeting in March of 2002 with Schultz and Curley, Paterno testified that he told them that he was told by McQueary that Sandusky was participating in "disturbing" and "inappropriate" behavior with a young boy in the football shower room. McQueary testified that he told Paterno that he saw Sandusky "fondling" or "doing something of a sexual nature" to a young boy in the football shower room. So we can be sure that Joe definitely knew something very wrong was going on with his buddy Sandusky and young boys in early 2002, if not before.
22 months ago

Schultz testified that he knew about an investigation that had taken place about Sandusky in 1998. I would hope that Joe knew also, since Schultz obviously knew that these 2 had to work closely with one another.
22 months ago

Sorry, I forgot about the meeting they all had (Curley, Schultz, Spanier) where they decided to go to the DPW and report Sandusky in 2001, only to change their minds after talking to Paterno. They then all decided to handle it on their own and in their own way. So I guess we can say Joe definitely knew no later than 2001.
22 months ago
Bob, as head of police, Schultz would not have been in legal compliance if he shared details back to Paterno. Additionally, the GJ report also indicated that MM said he witnessed anal rape. As is widely known now, that is a total fabrication as he never testified to that. Additionally, it has also been widely reported that Paterno, at the time of his testimony, had little recollection of the events from a decade prior. There have been reports that he met with MM to get a refresher on what MM told him.MM has proven to be not credible as his testimony has repeatedly changed over time. As an added point, when asked by Dranov if he witnessed anything directly, MM said no...three separate times.
22 months ago

And you think it would not be possible for Schultz to call Joe "off the record" and tell him that Jerry might have a problem and have a talk with him, or at least keep an eye on him? About MM- the Grand Jury found Mike McQueary's testimony to be "CREDIBLE".
22 months ago

But MM did say that he didn't want to get to graphic with Paterno, hence the words disturbing, inappropriate, fondling, and of a sexual nature instead of what he told others-anal sex.
22 months ago

At the time of his testimony to the GJ he was deemed credible by the AG. This is the same person who ostensibly lied about what MM testified to witnessing. As stated prior, MM's version has changed multiple times since he testified to the GJ. Read the trial transcripts and preliminary hearing testimonies. He continually now says "I would have said". And by the way, for such a traumatic event, do you not find it odd he couldn't even get the year correct? Deadspin? Seriously? I also see your recent post. He did NOT tell the G J he witnessed anal sex.
22 months ago

Bottom p.6-MM testified"He saw a naked boy, Victim 2, whose age he est. to be 10 yrs. old, with his hands up against the wall, being subjected to anal intercourse by a naked Sandusky". Middle to bottom p.7-MM testified that he "reported to Curley and Schultz that he had witnessed what he believed to be Sandusky having anal sex with a boy in the Lasch Bldg. showers". Let me correct something-the Grand Jury found MM's testimony to be "EXTREMELY CREDIBLE". Sorry Mike, I didn't mean to short-change you there.
22 months ago

http://notpsu.blogspot.com/
http://www.framingpaterno.com/

Bob, the above sites will give you access to all trial and grand jury data as well as analysis of each topic. I would encourage you to read through the links especially on testimony and the law relative to reporting and what is permitted and required.
22 months ago

Yeah, I just read a whole series of articles by Walter C. Uhler, and he really analyzes every GJ statement and E-mail concerning all of the Sandusky case, as well as the up-coming trials. Walter cited and I think agreed with an interesting opinion about why MM changed his tune and eventually backed off his anal sex assertion-he (MM) thought he would be looked at as a coward if he had seen something like that and not used physical force to stop it immediately.
22 months ago
Google this article on deadspin.com-What did Joe Paterno know about Jerry Sandusky in 1998? They tell you at the end that they can't make any definite conclusions, but they sure get you thinking about some things. Deadspin is the same site that broke the Manti Te'o story.
22 months ago

Also, there are some other very good related articles on The Christian Science Monitor, which you will be referred to.
22 months ago
Bob, I did not question what the GJ said of MM's testimony. What I did say was two things. #1 MM never testified in front of the GJ that he witnessed anal rape. Grand Jury presentments are NOT transcripts of exact testimony given by a witness subpoenaed to testify in front of the GJ. They are a one-sided process convened to see if enough reason is presented to indict. #2 MM's version of what occurred has changed on multiple occassions. As I stated before, I would refer you to the preliminary hearing and the trial transcripts, testimony also given under oath and published for the public record, unlike the secret testimony of a GJ. If you review that testimony, you will find that it does not match previous versions nor does it match that which was presented by the GJ. Additionally, when asked by Dr Dranov whether he witnessed anything sexual, he said he did not. Dr Dranov is a compulsory reporter. If MM had told him that a molestation had occurred, he is required by law to report that to authorities. I would be willing to bet that if Curley and Schultz ever reach trial, MM will be crucified on the stand for his many and varied versions of his story.
22 months ago

I don't doubt it (your last sentence above). But, how will Curley, Schultz, and Spanier beat their charges when their E-mails are introduced concerning meeting with paterno and then going to DPW. They met with Paterno, but a report was never filed with DPW. Schultz was already aware of the 1998 investigation on Sandusky, and they knew Jerry was back in the showers with young boys again after Det. Shreffler laid down the law to Jerry about showering with young boys back in '98 or '99? I guess Schultz will have to claim that even though he knew about the investigation in '98, he never bothered to ask any of the details of said investigation.
22 months ago

Keep in mind that there are significant questions related to the email chains presented by the Freeh report. Emails out of order, assumptions made by freeh as to context and to whom the emails were referring etc. Again, if you hit the sites referrenced, lots of great data to absorb. Also, if you really want to dig in, I suggest you reach out to Ray Blehar and ask those same questions. As an investigator, he is well trained in looking at the data/evidence and laying out what it means and where there are flaws.
22 months ago
The spirit of this article was to attempt to open some eyes to the fact that Joe Paterno was an amazing individual whom experienced the rippling effects of a horrible crime(s) that he didn't commit. I didn't express my own opinion very much in the piece, because Jon did such a tremendous job responding to my questions. I am as appalled as anyone with the horrific actions of Sandusky, but I can't try to make someone else accountable for those actions. Unfortunately many including much of the main stream media found it necessary to point fingers at "the most powerful man" at PSU for the sake of the all mighty ratings and accompanying revenue. That to me, is a crime in itself. Regardless of any botched investigations, Grand Jury testimony, flawed reports of eyewitness testimony, Joe Paterno was a good man, I realize his memory will forever include the events of the final chapter of his life, but that was only one chapter in an extremely long and wonderful book. On this day, the anniversary of his death, I hope he one day Rests in Peace.
22 months ago

Welll said my friend.
22 months ago

Keith-don't lose sight of the bigger issue here. Paterno thought that by having Schultz at that meeting in March of '02, that a police report would be filed and follow-up action would take care of stopping the abuse to innocent young men. But after time went by and no report was filed, and there was no follow-up action, Joe had to have been second guessing himself for not taking action himself at some point. Joe was a take-action guy according to some, and given his high moral standards, that thought must have been eating at him after he was fired.
22 months ago

Bob, I appreciate your point and it's well taken. "If" I had three wheels I'd be a tricycle. Have you ever second guessed one of your own actions? I'm sure the situation was eating at Paterno well before he was fired. We seem to lose sight that Paterno was a take action type of guy and was running one of the most prolific programs in college sports, no small task. He was an incredibly busy man. "If" he did in fact report the incident to his supervisors and in effect turn it over to them, at what point is the burden lifted from his shoulders? Was it the football Coach's job to follow up on a pending investigation? or is that more of a job for the police and the administration. JoPa had a job to do, that was coaching, recruiting, organizing training,practices and game plans. His job was to keep the program moving forward, something he did extremely well for over 60 years. Should his legacy be defined by the action or inaction (as many claim) of a small portion of his life work?
22 months ago
Keith or Jonathan-do you think that there is any chance at all that Curley, Schultz, and Spanier will make Paterno the "fall guy" if they go to trial? After all, they were prepared to file a report with the DPW, but after they met with Paterno no report was ever filed, and Joe never took any action on his own. Is there any chance they will claim that Joe insisted that no report be filed? It could be their best defense, no?
22 months ago

Never mind, I just read that the Failure to Report charge is only a Summary Offense. That's the least of their worries.
22 months ago
This just in - Former Pennsylvania State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky lost his bid on Wednesday for a new trial on child sex abuse charges.

Judge John Cleland rejected the request in an opinion posted on the Centre County Court's website. Sandusky's attorneys had argued they lacked enough time to prepare for the trial.
22 months ago
Sue Paterno breaks her silence. Amazing letter posted today on paterno.com. The truth will prevail if she has anything to do with it. Stay tuned tomorrow!

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