Joe Paterno is a name, along with Jerry Sandusky, that at one time covered every news program, journal and paper. Paterno, once the head coach of Pennsylvania State University (Penn State), was fired after investigations revealed his connection to the Sandusky child abuse scandal. Though, Joe Paterno died from complications with lung cancer [January 22, 2012], his family continues a fight to clear Paterno’s name.
Paterno failed to notify authorities, other than his superiors, on a witness’ account of Sandusky’s inappropriate behavior with children. After his connection to the scandal, Paterno announced he would retire at the end of the football season , but was rejected by the Penn State Board of Trustees and fired from his position as head coach.
The athletic director, president and vice-president of the university were also fired because investigation and witness testimony concluded that all of these men were involved in covering up Sandusky’s child abuse.
Currently, the Paterno family is fighting to clear Joe Paterno’s name from this case. The family released the Thornburgh Report [February 9, 2013], a 238 page report that can be found on a website dedicated to redeem Joe’s name and arguing how they believe the Freeh report to be untrue (http://www.paterno.com).
The Thornburg report, written by former General Attorney Richard Thornburg, is an attempt to discredit the findings of Louis J. Freeh, a former F.B.I. director who conducted the investigation on the scandal for the Penn State Board of Trustees.
According to the New York Times the family, trustee members and former players are planning to sue the NCAA for the punishments received by the university for the scandal. This includes a four-bowl ban, scholarship cuts, a $60 million fee and the vacation of 111 different wins from 1998 to 2011. Why was a team punished so harshly?
The NCAA believes that these harsh penalties will force the Penn State athletic program to rebuild itself. Mark Emmert, president of the NCAA, believes that the Penn State athletic program needs these punishments to rebuild.
Emmert says this because he believes the athletic program of Penn State should not have hidden the child abuse scandal for as long a time as they did. Did this school deserve the punishment it received? Did Joe Paterno, whose name will forever be marred by the Sandusky scandal, deserve what consequences he received?
In all actuality, child abuse is a serious offense that should receive the highest of punishments. Joe Paterno, however, never committed this crime. Instead, he just never reported an account of Sandusky’s behavior, but not doing anything makes one an accomplice, which makes his crimes just as serious as those of Sandusky’s.
Paterno’s relief from head coach of the Penn State football program is a reasonable consequence. As for the punishments received by the entire athletic program, if you were a parent of one of the children exposed to Sandusky’s sick behavior from an athletic program that attempt to cover one of its own wrong, how would you want to punish this program?
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