Three days of silence. On the fourth day, there was frantic action, escalating Joe Paterno’s departure from a probable action to all but a fait accompli. Reports indicate Penn State is preparing for the end of his tenure. Protesting alumni are burning diplomas. Media converged on Paterno’s house. The Big Ten may need to rename its championship trophy before its initial awarding. Penn State’s board of trustees is scheduled to meet on Friday. It’s conceivable his fate could be known before Saturday’s game against Nebraska.
Evidence of the rift is already apparent. The school cancelled Paterno’s press conference, denying him an opportunity to defend himself. His son planned to hold his own press conference, before cooler legal heads prevailed. The family claims there have been no discussions about Paterno’s potential retirement. Perhaps, the more accurate claim would be there have been no discussions that involved him.
Paterno, a perceived pillar of virtue for 46 years, will depart Penn State, leaving wreckage incalculably greater than that left by Woody Hayes at Ohio State. This isn’t sad. Sad is individuals not responding to pertinent information that could have spared others life-altering pain. Sad is that, with or without Paterno, Penn State will play a football game on Saturday. The game so beholden to revenue must go on, even stained by the darkest depths of human depravity.
Penn State can’t address the specific allegations for legal reasons, as they are staring at a nine-figure lawsuit. Though, the complete silence from university administrators has been astounding. Four days and counting after Penn State’s athletic director and vice-president were charged with covering up a child sex abuse scandal, not one university representative has addressed the issue in person and at the very least deflected questions. Even Jerry Sandusky opened his own front door.
Graham Spanier and Co. are displaying the same leadership and accountability vacuum that led to this scandal happening initially. There’s no more glaring sign that the university, not just the football program, needs a comprehensive fresh start as well.
[Photo via @OnwardState]