Traverse City Record-Eagle


Penn State needs to start from scratch

By Mark UrbanThere’s so much to say on the Penn State scandal and cover-up that it’s almost tough to begin.

Some defenders are saying that Joe Paterno should have been allowed to coach the final three games at Penn State, or at the very least the final home game at Beaver Stadium. Others say that a man who has served as the head coach of the Nittany Lions since 1966 deserves a better way to go out.

Hell, no.

Paterno lost every right to dictate anything when he didn’t do what was right after he was first informed of the despicable act of long-time assistant Jerry Sandusky with a young boy in a locker room.

Whatever Paterno was told about what then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary witnessed is irrelevant. “Man, boy, inappropriate manner” is enough. PERIOD.

How it was handled from the moment McQueary witnessed the act was wrong and it continues to be wrong.

Having heard Paterno supporters refer to him as a father figure is fine. But why didn’t he act like a father? What if it was Paterno’s grandson with Sandusky? Would he have acted the same way?

We all know the answer to that. So don’t give me the “Paterno earned the right to go out on his own terms” rationale. That may have been true 20 years ago. Not now.

Paterno lost that ability when he chose to stay silent. He lost that right when he saw Sandusky and said nothing. So did McQueary, who should never be allowed to coach at Penn State, much less anywhere else, again. He also lost that right when he saw Sandusky and said nothing.

Paterno and McQueary were not the only ones who failed to protect these kids. It goes all the way up to the president of the university. But these were the biggest two that didn’t do enough.

Moving forward, as soon as possible, every football coach at Penn State needs to be dismissed. Second, Penn State should decline any postseason bowl invitation and proceed with the next step in rebuilding the football program as soon as possible.

I know that none of the current players are responsible for what happened in the past, but would you want the Nittany Lions playing in your town or against your team? No.

After every football coach has been dismissed, the next head coach and any assistant coaches should have one underlying requirement: No ties with Penn State. I would even be leery of hiring a coach who had attended a Penn State game.

This has to start from a literal ground zero. It will still take years for Penn State to be what it used to be again.

In a lot of ways it will never be the same at Penn State.

Nor should it.

  • John Maxwell

    Guilt by association. Yeah, that’s the ticket! Let’s trash the entire institution, including all who had no knowledge or involvement in the crimes.

  • John C

    Bishops would simply move them to another school.  Think DA’s across the country might start prosecuting church officials for abuse coverup?

    • Ed Hahnenberg

      John C….What was done in the past has been quite well exposed, despite the seal of confession. There is a “guilty until proved innocent” process in place now in the U.S. or you haven’t been keeping up with the last few years of procedures used in the CC. All diocesan employees in our diocese must complete a program addressing the issue or they cannot be employed. They must report such behaviors in compliance with Michigan Department of Human Services at,1607,7-124-5452_7119_7193-15252–,00.html.

       I am curious why those at Penn St. who passed the info up to superiors were not bound by law to report such incidents to the police. As a teacher and administrator for at least fifteen years ago, I would have been fired for not reporting any such behavior.

  • Mark

    Ed, I believe Pennsylvania does have a policy in place, it was just not followed.

    • Ed Hahnenberg

      Mark…Pennsylvania does have child abuse reporting laws. See

      However, as I have watched the story unfold on TV, lawyers seem unanimous in their view that as long as a subordinate at the university reported an incident to a superior within the university, his legal obligation was satisfied. Apparently they are referring about not reporting to the police, instead of to the state’s Human Services agency. That should have been done by law, and the university…and perhaps individuals…can be sued, despite its being affiliated with state funding.

      I agree with Mr. Urban. Since this behavior was going on for so long, how many coaches, professors, and administrators did NOT know what was being kept silent?

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