Monday, November 7, 2011

You Are Not Penn State

This post references a disturbing report involving child rape and molestation.  Please prepare yourself before clicking any links.  Comments are off.  Thanks for understanding.

Editor's Note:  Joe Paterno announced this morning (11/9/11) that he'll retire at the end of this season.  Click here for the full story.

Editor's Note #2:  Tonight the Penn State Board of Trustees fired Paterno and university president Graham Spanier effective immediately.  I can't believe I typed that sentence.

Dear JoePa,

I never imagined writing this letter.  The news of the last few days has been heart wrenching.  The Grand Jury's report has been made available by the Attorney General.  It's sickening.  My title up there makes reference to Penn State's famous chant and comes from a moment when another coach, in a time of moral crisis, took a stand.  You know the story.

What I called you up there -- the most famous portmanteau in college football -- is both who you are and how we think of you:  JoePa, everyman father figure.  You led your team with firm discipline, going down to the bars on College Avenue yourself after curfew to make sure your players rested instead of drinking.  You demanded excellence from your team, benching even key players if they didn't maintain their GPAs.  You took responsibility when your team lost and we were right to praise you when they won.  The winningest coach in college football, you demonstrated your integrity by not parlaying your success into a million dollar salary. You were a father figure to your team and an example of a true leader to those of us who were proud to be your fans. 

I'm not proud today.  I'm ashamed and angry.

We honored you as a good father.  But let me tell you something about good fathers:  good fathers do not allow the rape of a ten-year-old to be brushed under the rug.  The adult who witnessed this act and brought it to you instead of reporting it to the police is a spineless idiot but he did that because of who you are:  the leader, the one who'll know what to do.  He trusted that you would have the courage to do the right thing.  In the clutch you chose to do the convenient thing rather than take a stand  for a ten-year-old boy who the Grand Jury heard was sodomized in Penn State's showers.  You made the wrong choice at that moment and at every moment in the years since that you didn't report it to the authorities.  You took it to the Director of Athletics who didn't call the police, either, and is now being charged with failure to report and perjuring himself to the Grand Jury.

I read your carefully crafted statement about these incidents and I see that you're describing the whole thing as "deeply troubling."  Troubling?  Imagine that ten-year-old child.  "Deeply troubling" doesn't even begin to describe the damage to a child who's been sexually abused.  This child, a client from a charity that serves at risk children, was specifically targeted by his abuser.  As it turns out, the thing he and the seven other victims included in the Grand Jury's report were most at risk for was being groomed by an alleged sexual predator.

The Director of Athletics and the Senior Vice President of Finance and Business were allowed to "step down" after being charged with perjuring themselves in front of the Grand Jury and if anyone in Penn State's administration has any balls it won't stop there.  I think the clean up should include you.  Dan Wetzel discusses it better than I can. 

Man up.  Take responsibility.  Step down.  You owe it to then men you've formed, to the university you've served and to the ten-year-old boy, now a man, whom you betrayed by turning your back.