Articles are available for reprint as long as the author is acknowledged: Domenick J. Maglio Ph.D.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011



By Domenick J. Maglio Ph.D. Traditional Realist

The past decade some powerful people in Happy Valley have said that modern football has passed by Joe Paterno, the 85-year old coach. The pressure to win at Penn State is equal to or greater than any other collegiate football program in the US. It was not only the stress of winning every game but the pressure of being the most revered person in the Nittany Lion Nation, Pennsylvania and by many Americans.

Joe Paterno is a living legend. Not only is he the most winning all time coach in division 1 football, but also he did it with class for over a half a century. Under his leadership he never received a recruiting violation or an NCAA sanction against his football program. He maintained one of the highest graduate rates of any division one program.

Joe Paterno did everything the right way. He was gracious in defeat or in victory. His coaching adversaries treated him with utmost respect as he did them. No one had a bad word to say about him. His unpretentious life style of living in a modest home a few blocks from the campus and his ritual of making himself accessible to students on his walk through the university created a great admiration for him at Penn State University.

Mr. Paterno was the ultimate role model for the students at Penn State. They called him “Papa Joe.” They stood by him holding a vigil to keep him as head coach before he was unceremoniously fired.

Mr. Paterno's crime was not anything criminal. Rather it was a supposed “lack of moral follow up.” He reported an accusation by assistant coach, Mike McCrearry, who said he witnessed retired Coach Jerry Sandusky committing a sexual act on a 10-year-old boy.

This was a hearsay incident not something Joe Paterno witnessed. He reported the accusation to his superior. Mr. Tim Curley, athletic director and the campus chief of police according to the law in Pennsylvania.

Mr. Paterno followed the letter of the law but according to the Board of Trustees he supposedly did not do enough. No one has yet said what he should have done to meet the board's moral standard since their standard is not defined. The board's immediate dismissal without due process appears to be a political hatchet job to tarnish his reputation and eliminate Joe Paterno, and to CYA themselves especially Governor Tom Corbett.

Child sexual abuse is a horrible, destructive act to a defenseless child. The perpetrator should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. However, why should Joe Paterno receive such harsh consequences before any investigation stated what should have been done differently?

In another incident in 1998, Coach Sandusky was investigated by the State Attorney's office and a child protective agency for alleged sexual crimes with a minor and no charges were filed. The State Attorney Gricar who did not pick up the case suspiciously went missing in 2005. The records of this case and another incident with Sandusky and a minor in the 1999 Alamo Bowl should be re-opened.

Coach Sandusky was the head of The Second Mile Foundation a non-profit for children. He was given special honors and was given rewards by President George H. W. Bush and Senator Rick Santorum as well as emeritus status at the university. He had a high profile at Penn State and nationally in athletic circles.

Rumors of sexual indiscretions of Mr. Sandusky were widely circulated. Applying the same Paterno moral standard would mean the people in the Second Mile Foundation, the media and politicians should be similarly fired for not doing more about these rumors.

If after the investigation evidence becomes public and shows Mr. Paterno did have first hand knowledge of other Sandusky incidents he should be prosecuted for failing to report them to the police.

On the other hand, if the investigation shows he met his full legal duty he should be given a full apology by the media and the university. Hopefully this would allow his name to be reinstated on the Big 10 trophy given to the winner of the conference. Coach Paterno’s impeccable reputation as an honorable man should be restored to the level it existed before the board dragged him into this mess.

"Whacking" the reputation of this legend for political gain should be considered an immoral act. The Board of Trustees needs to address the specific way Joe Paterno did not meet his moral obligations. They owe it to all of us to know and understand this new moral code to avoid any other instances. Once this moral code is established, it will make many people more comfortable in judging the reason for obliterating the role modeling and moral life of an honorable man like Joe Paterno.

The recent trend of dropping unsubstantiated allegations to the media to soil a person's reputation without a hearing is a disgusting and un-American act. In our American justice system, a man is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

The removal of our current and past heroes lowers the moral bar. This makes many of us feel better thinking that our renowned role models are no better than we are, although it unravels the social fiber, which binds our society

Character assassination of virtuous people has to stop. This scandalous practice is undermining our historical, present and potential heroes who are needed to inspire us all. We need exceptional individuals to elevate our standards and expectations of our selves, of others and our nation.

Dr. Maglio is the author of Invasion Within and Essential Parenting. He is a psychotherapist and the owner/director of Wider Horizons School.


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