It is an adage as old as time: actions have consequences. Sometimes all it takes is one singular action to set off a chain of events that no one could have ever anticipated.
In 2002, Joe Paterno was notified of the horrific act a member of his staff committed. He did the right thing and let the proper personnel know what had happened. But when the two people he notified didn’t do anything, Joe kept to himself. There are a lot of Penn State loyalists out there who love JoePa and they shudder at the notion that we would question his morality. While I’m sympathetic to that, his inaction enabled a child predator to carry on in his ways and that is unacceptable.
The Penn State scandal is the gift that keeps on giving. Six years after initial reports about the heinous acts by Jerry Sandusky and chapter after chapter is added to this horror story. Like many issues that have plagued the university since then, the newest episode in the saga is complicated.
Recently it was reported that Jay Paterno, son of the late coach was elected to the board of trustees at the university. He was elected along with two others to fill the three vacant spots on the board. One of those spots was that of none other than Albert L. Lord, the trustee who made wildly inappropriate comments about Sandusky’s victims last month.
There is dissension in the Penn State community about whether or not having the Paterno name back in such close association with the university is a good idea. As alluded to previously, there is a large group of people out there (including me) who really feel like JoePa was in the wrong. There is also a large congregation of Paterno supporters who refute any wrongdoing.
But this issue is so complicated it can’t even be looked at from those two points of view. There’s so much more to it. Let’s break down all of the possible opinions that have arisen.
- Joe Paterno made a decision that should not be forgiven and his son should pay for it too.
- Accept the premise that the elder Paterno was wrong and still welcome his son back with open arms. The sins of the father should not carry on to the son.
- Joe Paterno passed the information along like he was supposed to therefore doing the right thing. Let his son carry on his legacy and continue the healing process.
- Joe Paterno did the right thing, was treated so horribly that it killed him, and his family should hold a grudge forever.
This situation is unbelievably complicated. It is one of those things where whatever happens, it is always going to feel a little off. I can only offer my humble opinion on the matter.
It is in the best interest for Penn State to not only welcome Jay Paterno back with open arms but make him a face of your university. When people think Penn State, they think football. They think Paterno. But lately they haven’t thought about one of the greatest college football coaches ever. Now the conversation shifts to that dark cloud that blankets State College. There is still a very deep wound there and in the center is the name Paterno. For those angry with how his father handled things, let Jay show you that he is just trying to do some good. And for those still angry that the Paterno name was so ruthlessly dragged through the mud; if Jay can forgive them, you should to.
It is critical for Penn State to find a way to turn the page. Write a better chapter. Perhaps a chapter where instead of caring about whose son is on the board of trustees, you’re paying attention to more important issues. Like maybe be on the lookout for a certain fraternity’s hazing scandal . Move on and find peace. Everyone involved has suffered enough.