For decades, Joe Paterno’s football program at Penn State has been the example of how a college football program should be run.
Clean, controversy free and consistently winning.
But now a scandal involving a former assistant coach and longtime Paterno confidant could rock the program to its core and possibly oust the NCAA’s all-time winningest coach. Penn State athletic director Tim Curley and senior vice president for Gary Schultz both stepped down from their positions on Monday as they deal with the legal fallout from how they handled — or perhaps failed to handle — the known issues involving ex-assistant coach Jerry Sandusky and his alleged molestation of at least eight young boys.
Paterno and the University president could be next as more information comes to light about what went on, and who knew what.
A graduate assistant caught Sandusky in the locker room with a young boy in 2002 and reported it Paterno, who in turn informed the athletic director. A janitor saw something similar in 2000. No one contacted the authorities for further investigation.
Sandusky has been arrested for a series of alleged actions with young boys between 1994 and 2009. He was already retired when the janitor and graduate assistant coach say they caught him having improper relations with young boys, but Sandusky still had access to school facilities and often brought boys around from a foundation he started to help at-risk children.
Sandusky’s former Nittany Lions players are having trouble coming grips to the possibility he molested as many as eight boys — and that number may climb.
“Because I am also a father and because the thought of one of my kids coming home and saying something bad happened to them like that, I can’t even think about it,” former Penn State All-American linebacker LaVar Arrington said. “I don’t want to discount the stories of the families and their children. Innocent or guilty, he’s tarnished himself by this. I’m very disappointed it’s actually even a possibility.”
What is so disappointing to many is that instead of Paterno and others contacting authorities, they simply told Sandusky he could no longer bring kids around from his foundation. The 67-year-old Sandusky is facing serious jail time if proven guilty, while some others who had opportunity to help these young boys and didn’t could also face some serious charges.
Contact Terrance Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Terranceharris
(Photo: Rob Carr/Getty Images)