It’s time to force PSU’s hand on Paterno statue
I’m not a big fan of politicians slipping things into bills at the last minute; you may recall we, um, debated that a couple years ago when Juniata County School District’s athletic funding debacle was on the front page.
So I can’t deny the irony – hypocrisy, even – in suggesting you do such a thing myself. But I fear it may be the only way to right what I and others consider to be a wrong.
I thought of it while driving on Penn State’s campus the other day, alongside Beaver Stadium on Porter Road. I’ve followed that path many a time, for numerous reasons. But, more and more, when I do so I notice the space where there should be a statue of Joe Paterno.
And it seems to me that all it would take to get it back is an 11th-hour rider on a Penn State funding bill – no statue, no money.
I think there are ways to do it without putting Penn State’s trustees in the firing line (not that some of them don’t deserve it). And I realize there are people out there who would raise objections to such a move, those who still are under the mistaken belief that Joe Paterno did something wrong.
The fact that these folks misread the allegation in the Freeh Report as fact – and somehow missed the television broadcast in which an actual prosecutor involved in the case pretty much exonerated the coach – is troubling. But not as much to me as those who still believe in light of all the evidence that the legendary coach is still responsible for Jerry Sandusky’s crimes.
Let’s face it, Jake – can I call you Jake? – you’re among the few trying to do the right thing in this whole scandal. Perhaps if someone other than the governor – whose own hands seem to bear a bit of dirt – had challenged the NCAA on the sanctions, it might have worked. At least you’ve gone the extra mile in trying to keep the fine money earmarked for child protective causes to stay in our state (disclosure: My wife works for an agency that could receive some of the funds).
I’m not sure if the Paternos will win their case, but I admit I’d like to see it happen if only for that arrogant fool Mark Emmert to be taken down a notch.
But I’m sick and tired of hearing an honorable man’s name being dishonored. I mean, he’s the only one who did anything right in this case, and yet he’s responsible? As far as I know, only two of the Sandusky incidents took place when he was involved in the football program – you know, the ones that were reported and/or investigated – yet it’s taking the biggest hit?
I understand no one wants to blame a charity, even if The Second Mile is the only link to all of the victims. No one is shining a light on a high school that later allowed Sandusky to volunteer, even though by then there were at least rumors of his actions circulating (and, if I recall correctly, another college already had declined to hire him over such concerns).
And I’m not quite sure I grasp how an aging football coach could somehow have done more to prevent Sandusky from exploiting his victims more than the police, prosecutors, children and youth folks and adoption agencies, all of whom cleared him at different times.
A maneuver like the one I propose would not require Penn State to place or maintain the statue – although I think the location is non-negotiable. The university could sell the statue and that spot of ground to a private organization – even the Paterno family – which could take responsibility.
Best part of that is, then the memorial could reflect Joe’s true 409 wins, and the university would be free of liability as far as the NCAA goes.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way. And come budget time, I’m sure a bunch of us would be glad to have your back.
Jeff Fishbein is sports editor of The Sentinel. Contact him at email@example.com.