Sunday, January 22, 2012

Joe Paterno R.I.P.

Papa Joe Paterno is dead at 85. He has been thoroughly vilified in recent months over how he handled the alleged child molestation his assistant coach is charged with. I would like to present another viewpoint.

Joe Pa ran an honest program. To my knowledge, he was never cited for cheating in recruiting or any other virus that infects most major sports schools.

To understand how he handled the accusation you need to also understand the hierarchy in college sports.Coaches serve at the pleasure of the athletic Director, who serves at the pleasure of the School president, who serves at the pleasure of the board of regents. In other words, it is a pyramid with the coaches at the bottom.

For  coach to go directly to the police without consulting with his superiors would likely have caused his dismissal on the basis of disloyalty. They would have accused him of bring down the school, not the actual perpetrator. I do not condone this practice, I'm only describing it.

Paterno did not cover it up. He promptly reported the allegation to his superiors. He truly thought that ended his responsibility. The athletic director and school president handled it from there, apparently striking a bargain with the assistant coach, retiring him on the spot, also without informing the authorities. This is typical of collegiate sports. Protect the image of the University at all costs.

Horribly, while the president and athletic director were also fired, Paterno has taken most of the heat. Partly because absolutely nobody outside of college Station, Pa has a clue who the others are. It is important, to sift through the emlotion of the situration so as not to lynch the innocent. The only witness to the alleged crime was a graduate assistant coach who after reporting what he saw to coach, didn't interfere with the act itself and then didn't go to the police on his own. Everyone else was dealing with hearsay.

Over the years, Paterno has proved over and over his integrity, his work ethic, not only coaching his players, but mentoring them as he would his own children. He was a giant of a man. He donated a fortune to the university, endowing several departments. Nobody is remembering that.

Joe Paterno took the fall for those at the top that could have did the right thing, but didn't. Joe Paterno, dead at age 85 deserves as does his family, to rest in peace. I believe he lost to cancer because he lost the will to live. Everything he had lived for was taken from his in a panic by the top of the pyramid, hoping that it would deflect the responsibility from them.

*** From Huffington Post, a speach by Phil Knight, president of Nike.

Commenting on those events, Knight said, "it turns out (Paterno) gave full disclosure to his superiors, information that went up the chains to the head of the campus police and the president of the school. The matter was in the hands of a world-class university, and by a president with an outstanding national reputation."
Knight added, "...this much is clear to me. If there is a villain in this tragedy, it lies in that investigation and not in Joe Paterno."

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