The following is my response:
Question: Should Joe Paterno be fired?
Joe Paterno. The name rings a different meaning depending on who you talk to. For most, he’s the man that has coached 45 seasons at Penn State, dating back to the height of the Vietnam War era. For the sake of perspective, the year he started was the same year that the Miranda Rights were birthed, and one could purchase gas for 32 cents per gallon. Recently though, the name Paterno brings about an attitude of disgust and anger for people. This is due to the recent resurfacing of the Sandusky scandal in which Penn State’s former defensive coordinator was arrested on 40 counts of sexual abuse on eight boys spanning over 15 years.
Where Paterno gets caught up in this mess finds us nine years ago where he was informed of these happenings by Mike McQueary, a graduate assistant who witnessed the abuse. Instead of taking this information directly to the police, Paterno notified Penn State’s athletic director about what had transpired. Flash-forward to current day, 2011, and Paterno’s god-like status has been instantly tarnished by his mistake.
But was this error grounds for “JoePa’s” termination? As I’ve followed the story, I can honestly say that I am torn on this answer. On the one hand, I can respect the school’s decision to uphold discipline, defend their name, and set an example for future employees of the University. Taking no action on a person who knowingly failed to directly inform the police of his findings would have been a huge mistake – especially when the subject of sodomizing young boys is on the headlines. That said, Paterno didn’t keep the news completely hidden. I’ve always respected the man, and I can only assume he did what he thought was right at the time. Today, he attempted to do the same by announcing his retirement to rectify his error. In my mind, this is a respectable move - Paterno retires as a coach who has done more on the football field as a coach than most ever will, but also retires as a human being recognizing his mistake with full intent to take responsibility while stepping out of the spotlight.
I am still interested in what will further take place with the story, but for now, my opinion is that Paterno should have been able to leave a chapter of his life that consumed 45 years of it with some sense of dignity and respect.
I welcome your input, opinions, and debate.