by Krysta Huber
Former defensive coordinator of the Penn State football team, Jerry Sandusky, was arrested Nov. 5 on charges of sexual abuse. Sandusky’s arrest prompted Penn State Board of Trustees to fire former Head Football Coach Joe Paterno, who, according to nytimes.com, accumulated more victories than any football coach in Division I history. There is no debate that Paterno greatly impacted college football. However, Paterno should be held accountable for the Sandusky scandal because he failed to take effective action, despite his knowledge of Sandusky’s inappropriate behavior.
According to nytimes.com, Paterno became aware of Sandusky’s sexual abuse in March 2002 after an assistant informed Paterno of an incident he witnessed in the football locker room. In a recent press release, Paterno stated that because Sandusky had already retired before 2002, he relayed the information to university administrators and didn’t feel the need to pursue it further. However, Sandusky’s retirement didn’t completely eliminate his presence on campus; he still had access to Penn State facilities for the purpose of continuing his charity work with young boys.
Paterno’s claim that it wasn’t his responsibility to contact the police because Sandusky was no longer a coach is invalid. An individual with a sense of morality would have made an effort to investigate.
Paterno acted as a bystander, and he passed the responsibility on to people who turned a blind eye to Sandusky’s abuse. According to msn.foxsports.com, after Paterno informed administrators of Sandusky’s abuse, they responded by limiting Sandusky’s access to only Penn State satellite campuses. Paterno released a statement on Nov. 6 maintaining that he "did what he was supposed to do." Despite the so-called efforts of Paterno and administrators, trial evidence shows that Sandusky continued to sexually abuse young boys.
A coach is supposed to be a leader, someone who sets an example for his players to follow. A coach shouldn’t be defined only by his victories; he should be defined by his character on and off the field. The motto of the Penn State athletics program is "success with honor." A great coach would have honored all parts of that motto.