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.
“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.