The ironic thing in his firing is that his whole legacy up until this week was built on him doing "the right thing". In the era of NCAA scandals, he was always looked upon as that rare coach that always did the proper thing. Doing the "right thing" by being the "face" of the University and raising millions for PSU; Doing the "right thing" by the football program and its players; Doing the "right thing" by the fans and alumni and the thing that finally cost him his job- doing the "right thing" by his staff. Even when it came to light that a member of his staff was involved in alleged acts of child abuse while under his watch on campus. In this case, doing the "right thing" turned out to be quite the wrong thing, by not reporting it to law enforcement, even though he apparently told his superiors. As a result, a growing number of child victims suffered immensely from Coach Paterno and members of the University not doing the "right thing".
There have been different reasons as to why the main culprit in the child sex abuse allegations was allowed to continue working at the University, let alone not arrested for so many years up until now. Whatever reasons you choose to believe, the sad fact is that there were innocent children who looked forward to going to the prestigious grounds of Penn State University and meeting the legend himself, only to get taken advantage of by a "trusted member" of his staff. And from what the allegations state, taken advantage in ways that would make a grown man's skin crawl, let alone a child.
And as the statewide legend as JOE PATERNO was, he carried a lot of weight, not only at Penn State, but in the State of Pennsylvania. Hell, he was the state's highest paid employee. Surely his words could have carried a lot of weight with not only the president of the college, but to the Board of Trustees and more importantly, law enforcement. So if he in fact, knew that improper behavior was taking place by a member of his staff and his only response was to tell his boss and leave it at their doorstep, then that is a huge FAIL on his part. His lofty position could have been a catalyst in putting this perpetrator of such heinous crimes away for good. Instead, his lack of action allowed the circle of pain to carry on. And for that, he had to go.
A shame in all of this is that for all the good things that COACH PATERNO may have done for the University, he will be remembered most for how he left the University. Under a cloak of shame. As they always say- A man's reputation is everything. Takes a lifetime to build and a minute to lose.
An even bigger shame in all of this is the way many of the students and alumni reacted to the firing of their beloved coach. Riots throughout the campus and (ironically enough) Happy Valley over the way he was fired. Ignoring the plain and obvious facts of why he was being dismissed. Shameful and embarrassing behavior by students on national TV that probably embarrassed their families for years to come.
The biggest shame in all of this, however, is the lack of sympathy toward the victims of the abuse at the hands of a "valued member" of the Penn State University football staff. These kids (now adults in some cases) didn't come to PSU to have this happen to them. They didn't ask for this. Yet they will have to carry this scar for the rest of their lives. My thoughts and prayers go out to them. And let us hope that justice comes swift and firm on the sick individual who continues to lurk in relative secrecy (albeit in custody), while the man who leaves PSU with his legacy in tatters falls on the sword for him.
A shame indeed.