News,  Sports

Joe Paterno’s Firing Was Necessary and Right

Joe Paterno’s immediate firing was a sad, difficult decision on the part of Penn State’s board of trustees. And it was also the right decision. Children were horribly abused, and those with the power and moral authority to stop it sat on their hands.

We do not know all of the facts yet, but we do know some things. Paterno took an oath and told a grand jury that he heard an eyewitness report in 2002 that Sandusky was “fondling or doing something of a sexual nature to a young boy.” Those are the words from Paterno’s own testimony. Paterno reported this to his “supervisor” the athletic director, and the AD did not contact the police. Upon his AD’s failure to contact the police, Paterno did nothing. This is indefensible.

The trustees did the right thing not allowing Paterno to stand on the sidelines for even one more game. Weighed in the balance of what happened to these children, it is a light punishment for a grave sin of omission.


  • Christiane

    Integrity is important.
    When allegations are made against trusted people, and secrets are kept from those who need to know, the fall-out is inevitable.

    Joe Pa is much loved at Penn State, but in the light of day, he did not pick up that phone and call the right people, the police, and more children were made to suffer because of his failure to do the right thing.

    He did notify an authority, but it was ‘in house’, and he didn’t ‘follow up’ . . .

    It’s very sad for all concerned, but those children needed to be protected from a monster (excuse me, an ‘alleged’ MONSTER), and they weren’t. They weren’t.

  • Ty

    How can you say it’s sad Denny? As far as I’m concern Paterno was completely complicit and should be charged with a crime. If other folks haven’t read the Grand Jury report, they should.

    The thing I find completely interesting and completely maddening is that as a society we’ll do whatever it takes to protect our idols and by that I mean not only individuals like Joe Paterno, but also, the institution of college football or whatever it is that we place complete importance on.

    This isn’t about Joe Paterno or Penn State or who’s going to win the blanking game on Saturday. This is about letting the devil into our midst and letting him reign and do whatever he wants as long as we’re getting the fulfillment of our carnal senses.

    Sorry to have strong feelings about this.

    • Denny Burk

      Ty, How can you not say that it’s not sad? These crimes were horrific, and those in a position to protect the innocent and end the abuse sat on their hands. I don’t know how anyone can look at the suffering of these children and the moral authorities that failed them and not be grieved. If you’re not sad about it, you ought to be.

  • donsands

    Big time sad. I was just bragging on Joe Pa last week about #409, and now I’m feeling just the opposite.
    This kind of stuff really should make us see the difference between this dark world and Christ, and His truth and the Cross.

    I was reading yesterday morning once again John 17, and what an awesome Savior we have, who would give His life for all the filthy sinners of this world, and also our Father would love us so much to give His Son for our filth. And Christ took all my filth, and gives me His goodness in a robe of truth and love. Astounding really!
    Amazing Grace indeed.

    “The Lord has promised good to me.
    His word my hope secures.
    He will my shield and portion be,
    As long as life endures.

    Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
    And mortal life shall cease,
    I shall possess within the veil,
    A life of joy and peace.”-John Newton

  • Derek

    Joe’s son has now stated that Joe never personally confronted or discussed the events (that occurred in 2002) and allegations with Sandusky. And yet Sandusky had access to Penn State’s facilities even as late as last week!

    That absolutely boggles the mind. If Joe had even a suspicion that one of his own grandchildren had been corrupted or molested by Sandusky, would he have been this laissez faire?

    It is so hard for me to get my mind around this, because I have no doubt that Paterno was ethical and God fearing in many regards. I’ve come to the conclusion that to whatever extent Paterno feared and honored God, he had a greater fear of the loss of prestige and influence that would have resulted from complete exposure of Sandusky’s demonic actions.

    This should be a powerful lesson and warning to all Christians and especially to leaders who fear the results of exposing sin so much that they are only willing to take half measures because they are afraid of what people will think or how it may impact their position of influence.

  • Nate

    I think we have to be careful in our allegations toward Paterno. He did report this incident to his superiors (the AD), so on the technical issue of the law he is not criminally responsible. Since Paterno has not come out completely on this issue other than the Grand Jury questioning there seems to be confusion remaining on all the details as to the extent of exactly what Paterno knew about the incident.

    Albert Mohler wrote today that Southern Seminary’s own handbook for employees says that an employee who knows of something like this should report it to their supervisor. Paterno did exactly that. Having said that, Paterno should have done more in following up on what the AD did. Southern’s protocols have now changed due to how this played out, but I think it shows that even reporting things up the chain don’t always alleviate one from responsibility.

    Paterno should have followed this up and should have contacted authorities if his questions weren’t answered, in my opinion.

    But I do think, at this point, we should refrain from saying Paterno intentionally covered this up, because he didn’t. And I’m not sure that we should accuse Paterno of being unwilling to speak because of his position or that he was afraid to speak for fear of losing his prestige, etc.

    Paterno should have done more, but he did report it to his supervisor. The AD is far more reprehensible and responsible. As stated, Southern Seminary’s policies, as of yesterday, called for similar actions by their employees.

    Sad situation all around.

    • Derek

      The reality is that Paterno is such an iconic figure at Penn State – and the whole state of Pennsylvania, for that matter – that the AD took his cues from Paterno. He had to. Paterno failed to exercise the leadership and honor the enormous trust that was placed in him. If anyone should have been first to call the authorities and blow the whistle on this pedophile, it was Joe Paterno, not the administrator. And Joe should have been standing there while the police came to interrogate and/or arrest Sandusky, because these horrific events happened in Joe’s house.

      • Nate

        Derek, I believe I said Paterno should have followed up with the AD. Nor, am I trying to say Paterno didn’t deserve to be fired. But you are making a pretty serious accusation by saying the the AD didn’t report it because Paterno told him not to (because that is what you are implying). And technically speaking Paterno did blow the whistle to the AD (his superior). As Mohler stated, until today Southern employees would have been expected to notify their supervisor and let the supervisor handle it. I am not defending Paterno, he should have followed it up. But my original post and reply to yours is to remind people that there haven’t been any prosecutions as of yet and to some extent we have to be careful of speculation, until all the facts come up.

        Clearly Paterno should have done more, but you have no proof of your conspiracy theory.

        • Derek

          I wasn’t really even suggesting that Paterno told the AD to basically sweep this under the rug. I suspect that Joe probably assumed that the police would get involved at some level after he called the AD. So I am willing to take it for granted that JoePa did exactly what he was supposed to do in terms of addressing this with the AD. When I say that the AD was taking his cue from Joe, I mean that he followed Joe’s example in terms of “handling things in-house” and performed in-house discipline (of Sandusky). Every single alumni I’ve heard discuss this has said that Joe and Penn State prided themselves on handling problems in-house. So if anyone was going to get authorities involved, I think it needed to be Joe. I suspect that even back then, Joe hoped that the authorities would get involved, but that he was glad that he could hand that task off and wash his hands of it. The AD is responsible for his own lack of action. But I also believe that he followed Joe’s lead, which was to handle this in-house if at all possible and to call the police only if Sandusky didn’t accept their in-house punishment.

  • Kevin C

    It’s also sad that 2000 students rioted after the firing of Paterno last night. How can anyone think this was not the right decision!

  • donsands

    “It is so hard for me to get my mind around this, because I have no doubt that Paterno was ethical and God fearing in many regards.”-Derek

    Can one know the fear of our Lord, and allow this to go on for so many years? That is a good question, and yet is God simply sitting on the sidelines, or is He working in the heart of His beloved child, if Joe is in fact born again.
    I always took it as Joe was a good Catholic, and was dead in his religion of priests and Hail Marys. But then again I’m not that familiar with his Catholicism.

    • Derek

      Don, the bottom line is what I said in paragraph 4. Sometimes, even we Protestants know what the right thing to do is, but in cowardice, we only take half measures because we’re not prepared to put our reputation or career or other idols on the line.

  • Jim

    This has given me pause (one again for the nth time) that: “little” sins always metastasize into “big” sins, that what is hidden has a habit of becoming public, that we reap what we sow, and that God is not mocked. Ever. Oh, and that nobody involved ever planned to have it “turn out this way”. May I take this lesson to heart and deal ruthlessly with the sin that dwells within.

  • donsands

    I know I have been a timid fool, and even coward at times. And the Lord helped me through.
    And there are those who are not born again who have courage.

    My thought was does Joe have the Holy Spirit in a born again experience, and does he love Christ?
    I wasn’t sure he did.

  • Ty

    Rumors are nasty Denny but the post wasn’t alone in speculation:

    From two days ago, here’s Dan Bernstein of CBS Chicago:

    @dan_bernstein FYI: names are being x-checked w/Sandusky’s Second Mile, and there are other older adult men with “curious” relationships. Only the start

    Madden also speculates it’ll be revealed that Sandusky was told to retire as part of a cover-up.

    CBS Sports’ Gregg Doyel tweeted the following later in the morning, appearing to cite a source besides Madden:

    @greggdoyelcbs I’m told Penn’s atty general has this sick Sandusky rumor on the radar.

  • yankeegospelgirl

    I’m not saying Paterno shouldn’t be held accountable, but the way people have been screaming for his blood is enough to confuse people unfamiliar with the case as to who the actual perpetrator was. It did for me. Just sayin’.

    • Derek

      I would encourage you to read the Grand Jury report and then say that the man at the top should not be held accountable for at least 8 or 9 years more of what amounted to a cover up. Denny’s commentary at the top is right – Paterno’s lack of action is and was indefensible.
      On a similar note, we’re now learning that Coach McCleary saw a little boy being sodomized by a fellow coach and that both the boy and Sandusky saw him too. Why McCleary did not rescue that boy at that very moment and then call the authorities AND do what ever it took to physically subdue Sandusky is completely beyond comprehension. At the very least, it demonstrates that the Penn State lockerroom was virtually its own state and a law unto its own and that Paterno was the sheriff.

  • Mike

    Thanks Denny. I was the first poster and didnt know what happened. I think its horrible that Paterno and all those staff knew about it and ket all that time go. Mccleary should be fired as well. Why isnt Bradley. He was there since 79? Its a total cover up no doubt to protect the name and reputation of the Penn State football program. Its heinous.

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