Given the revelations of the past several months, Joe Paterno certainly wasn't the saint he was thought to be on the campus of Penn State University.
Any good Paterno did during his 60-plus years at Penn State-both as a coach and as a humanitarian-are forever tarnished because he, for whatever reason, did not confront evil when he had the opportunity.
Jerry Sandusky was an evil man. Sandusky, Paterno's assistant coach for almost as many years as Paterno had been head coach at Penn State, used his children's charity The Second Mile as a cover to seek out vulnerable young boys from broken homes to do evil, unspeakable things to them.
On June 22, a jury in Bellefonte, Pa., found Sandusky guilty of 45 counts of sexually abusing 10 of those young boys over a 15-year period. When he is sentenced in September, it is unlikely Sandusky, 68, will ever see the outside of prison.
Paterno always maintained he was never aware of Sandusky's involvement with children until 2002, when then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary told Paterno he saw Sandusky sexually assaulting a boy in the shower of the football team's locker room.
However, last week's report by former FBI Director Louis Freeh concluded Paterno, then-athletic director Tim Curley, university vice president Gary Schultz and university president Graham Spanier all were aware of allegations of this type of conduct between Sandusky and boys in 1998, but-largely through Paterno's efforts-did nothing about it.
While Paterno's family disagrees with Freeh's report and Paterno is no longer here to defend himself, this is unconscionable. Had something been done at that time, Sandusky could have been stopped before ruining the lives of other boys. Instead, he was allowed to retire and still be permitted on campus.
This past Sunday, after weeks of debate, the university removed the bronze statue of Paterno from outside Beaver Stadium, where the coach had earned fame. And on Monday, the NCAA delivered its own verdict on Paterno's role in allowing Sandusky to continue to prey on boys when both he and three of the school's top administrators were in position to stop it years ago. While not receiving the so-called "death penalty"-banning the football team from competition for several seasons-it did ensure Penn State would not recover from this for many years, if ever. The school will lose 10 scholarships a year for four years; be forced to pay a $60 million fine; and, in a humiliating move, be stripped of the school's football victories it earned since 1998. It also will allow current Penn State players to transfer without sitting out a year.
We may feel sympathy for those now paying the price for Paterno's, Curley's, Schultz's and Spanier's decision to put the football program ahead of the safety of children, but we can't feel any sympathy for those four-especially Paterno. When given the opportunity to confront evil, the previously revered coach decided to look the other way and encouraged others to do the same.