By Ann Liguori
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If you think coach Joe Paterno should not have been fired and should not have become one of the ‘fall guys’ for not calling the authorities in what could be the biggest scandal in college sports history, then read the 23- page indictment against former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.
It makes me sick to my stomach. I want to throw up right now.
How several key figures at the University, who were told about these horrible acts, did nothing, turned their heads, for so many years, speaks volumes about the power and invincibility that big-time college sports programs and the individuals who lead them, possess.
As much as coach Paterno is adored by many and praised for the good work he has done in the four decades he has led Penn State football, he obviously allowed the power and invincibility that comes with that status to cloud his judgment. As the leader, his inability to take the initiative and call the authorities upon hearing about these horrible acts, will ultimately define his legacy. What a tragedy – suddenly a legacy that should be defined by how much he gave back to the student body at Penn State, by how he preached academics along with athletics and how he genuinely cared for the students and community — took a sudden, dramatic, dreadful turn.
More information will no doubt come out as each person remotely involved with the program will and should be questioned. But most troubling beyond the permanent emotional scars the victims will endure is how many layers of protection went on within the university and the community to protect the almighty cash cow known as big-time college football. Several continued to prevail in this idyllic world of college life, living the good life with unlimited access and power, losing all sense of decency.
The impact and fallout from this will be felt at universities across the country. Procedures will be reviewed and communicated regarding reporting inappropriate behavior, crimes, etc. College presidents, coaches and administrators will look inward, do gut checks and be more aware of doing the ‘right’ thing.
As Penn State University fights for its life to restore integrity and its reputation as one of the top universities for higher learning with a mission to improve “the well being and health of individuals and communities…” according to their mission statement, let’s hope other universities learn from this and that morality prevails in the world that is ‘big-time college athletics.’
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