Since 1966, Joe Paterno has been a staple in American college football. As the head football coach of the Penn State football team, Nittany Lions, Paterno has enjoyed a long and distinguished career. Paterno, is apparently the first college football coach to coach over 400 hundred winning games. To the surprise and amazement of most Pennsylvanians, Paterno’s career has came to an abrupt end this evening. Paterno, at over 80 years-old has been fired by the Penn State University Board of Trustees. It appears that some things are finally more important than football!
Paterno’s firing came a few hours after he offered his resignation. Paterno did not offer his resignation as many expected, immediately. He instead offered to resign at the end of this football season. To some that was an attempt by Paterno to leave the Nittany Lions, on his own terms with little regard to the damage being done to the university. Penn State students who might not have the full story and love their “JoePA” as they call Paterno, protested on campus last night when it seemed that Paterno was going to have to leave. Students today rallied and protested to protect Paterno’s status on campus.
This all comes as Penn State University deals with the child sexual abuse scandal surrounding former assistant football coach, Jerry Sandusky who retired in 1999. After retirement, Sandusky maintained access to Penn State’s football facilities, where he is alleged to have engaged in improper sexual conduct with young boys. The young victims were involved in a charitable organization called Second Mile, which Sandusky started. The Second Mile is a non profit located in State College, PA. The grand jury report states that Sandusky was caught on more than one occasion improperly interacting with young boys in campus gym facilities.
As the news unfolds tonight, students are still on Penn State’s campus protesting Paterno’s firing. In the late night press conference the Board of Trustees stated that they needed to act to save the reputation of the institution. Not only did the Board of Trustees fire Joe Paterno, they also fired Penn State University President Graham Spanier.
Joe Paterno has long been known for his famous football quotes. One is particularly appropriate tonight. “I’d like to know, how could the President (Richard Nixon) know so little about Watergate in 1973, and so much about college football in 1969?”
Some are asking a similar question today. How could Joe Paterno know so little about Sandusky’s behavior and not know he needed to resign immediately when the grand jury report went public instead of waiting until the end of football season? Some things are bigger than football!