Penn State Coach Joe Paterno to retire at end of season

Amid allegations that Penn State University covered up years of sexual abuse by one of its football coaches, Head Coach Joe Paterno will “retire” at the end of this season.

The allegations are that Paterno knew of the abuse of young boys by one of his long time assistants Jerry Sandusky. As Samhita wrote yesterday, the school allegedly knew of the abuse and covered it up for decades. Sandusky worked under Coach Paterno for 44 years.

Paterno is a college football legend. He’s been at Penn State for 61 years. It’s particularly apparent that the school values their season over the innocent victims of abuse and hence the end of the season “retirement.” What does it take to get fired these days?

Coach Paterno released the following statement announcing his “retirement”:

I am absolutely devastated by the developments in this case. I grieve for the children and their families, and I pray for their comfort and relief.

I have come to work every day for the last 61 years with one clear goal in mind: To serve the best interests of this university and the young men who have been entrusted to my care. I have the same goal today.

That’s why I have decided to announce my retirement effective at the end of this season. At this moment the Board of Trustees should not spend a single minute discussing my status. They have far more important matters to address. I want to make this as easy for them as I possibly can.

This is a tragedy. It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.

My goals now are to keep my commitments to my players and staff and finish the season with dignity and determination. And then I will spend the rest of my life doing everything I can to help this University.

The board has the option to terminate him before the end of the football season. I’m hopeful they will consider this action, because while Paterno reported the abuse to the higher ups at Penn State (who covered it up), he didn’t go to law enforcement.

UPDATE: Looks like Penn State President, Graham Spanier, will likely lose his job over this scandal as well. Sources say he’ll either resign or be fired by the end of the day.

Join the Conversation

  • Jenny

    Why is the blame on Joe Paterno?

    He was told something by somebody, and followed the protocol laid in place.

    All he would be telling police is that someone told me this —-

    Why isn’t everyone calling for the skin of the guy who actually witnessed the scene? He has the first hand sighting, why didn’t he go to the police? It seems the guy who actually witnessed the scene would have a much higher obligation than the guy who was told about it later.

    • Aislene Scarry

      The blame is squarely on Joe Paterno because he is Penn State football.

      He rules State College, Pennsylvania and the University by virtue of his position as the undisputed leader of the Penn State football program.

      Joe Paterno knew of the fact that his top assistant raped 10-year old boys in the Penn State football locker room–the very same building where Joe had his offices.

      Joe knew of this for 9 years (nine!) and did nothing and said nothing.

      Had the grand jury findings not been released four days ago, Joe wouldn’t have said or done anything about this.

      His silence and complicity in the most heinous of acts against the youngest and most vulnerable human beings is why he is rightfully being blamed today.

      • A Viescas

        Yeah, no.

        He did not “do nothing.” He reported the incident just like any ordinary person would.

        He didn’t go to the police, but frankly neither would have I.

        It’s not like the guy didn’t make a few mistakes (such as lack of follow-up) but this is scapegoating, plain and simple.

    • AGF

      The blame isn’t just on Joe Paterno, it is on many in the chain of command – Pennsylvania law requires that this be reported to law enforcement. And yes, he would be telling the police that a graduate student witnessed the rape of a ten year old boy. I think the police would follow up on that.
      The truth here is that he, and others, did the absolute minimum to absolve their consciences, to preserve their own ‘legacy’ while untold numbers of children were horrifically abused. He heard that a guy he worked with raped a child, and worked side by side with him never following up on heinous criminal behavior.
      There is no limit on how many people can do wrong. And Joe is definitely one of them.

    • AGF

      Also, are there really levels of obligation?

    • Mary

      The law is very clear. So are ethics. I’m an educator and at times where I’ve had even the slightest inkling of abuse it was not only my moral obligation but also my lawful obligation to report it to the authorities immediately. I have serious concerns about adults who wouldn’t have such a clear-cut response. Removing said adults from any contact with children and immediately firing them for such an egregious moral violation should also be a clear-cut decision from their supervisors.

      It seems to me that Penn State was waiting to see the public’s reaction first. Luckily, the public has a higher standard of conduct than these felons.

    • A Viescas

      He’s not the only one getting “the blame” but he’s big and important and therefore somehow responsible for everything that goes on around him.

      Also, he did fail in some way but not enough to get charged like the other guys–so he’s the only person the people looking for a way to show themselves acting “decisively” can pull down.

      The *actual* criminals will be handled by the courts.