The Other Joe Paterno

By Ta-Nehisi Coates

Former FBI investigator Louis Freeh's report investigating Jerry Sandusky's crimes against children is now online.  As an aside, it appears that to the very end, Joe Paterno didn't get it:


"Over and over again, I have heard Penn State officials decrying the influence of football and have heard such ignorant comments like Penn State will no longer be a 'football factory' and we are going to 'start' focusing on integrity in athletics," Paterno wrote. "These statements are simply unsupported by the five decades of evidence to the contrary -- and succeed only in unfairly besmirching both a great university and the players and alumni of the football program who have given of themselves to help make it great."

"This is not a football scandal and should not be treated as one."

One can imagine an sociology professor committing the same crimes as Jerry Sandusky. There's nothing about football, per se, that makes you prone to child abuse. It's harder to imagine the head of an sociology department, in consort with with president of the University, covering up that abuse. But even granting that possibility, the claim that this had nothing to do with the department would be laughable.

I understand that the Paterno family must love their patriarch. But it is rather sickening to hear Jay Paterno bragging about graduation rates...

"I think any suggestion about the culture of football at Penn State, you have to look at the facts in the situation. We graduate our student athletes in football at a higher rate than the students in general at Penn State. There was a commitment to academic and athletic excellence in that order ... Joe Paterno was willing to bench players that were eligible to send a message to his players ... Joe Paterno was the first person to say to us 'we are a part of the University, just part of it. We're a football program and this is an academic institution.' And Joe believed that very fervently."


....as though that can somehow mediate the following:

Four of the most powerful people at The Pennsylvania State University - President Graham B. Spanier, Senior Vice President‐Finance and Business Gary C. Schultz, Athletic Director Timothy M. Curley and Head Football Coach Joseph V. Paterno - failed to protect against a child sexual predator harming children for over a decade. These men concealed Sandusky's activities from the Board of Trustees, the University community and authorities. 

They exhibited a striking lack of empathy for Sandusky's victims by failing to inquire as to their safety and well‐being, especially by not attempting to determine the identity of the child who Sandusky assaulted in the Lasch Building in 2001. 

Further, they exposed this child to additional harm by alerting Sandusky, who was the only one who knew the child's identity, of what McQueary saw in the shower on the night of February 9, 2001.

No one cares about how many students you graduated. You're supposed to do that. You're not supposed to do it at the expense of young children. 

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/07/the-other-joe-paterno/259727/