Penn State: Joe Paterno firing only decision to be made
Here’s why Penn State’s board of trustees had no choice but to do what it did Wednesday night, when Joe Paterno was fired after 62 years on Nittany Lion football staff and president Graham Spanier was shown the door, too.
Virginia Tech. Say the words “Virginia Tech” most anywhere in America, and an instant image comes to mind. The horrific massacre on April 16, 2007, that killed 32 and wounded 25.
Now “Penn State” has a universal connotation, too. University corruption that enabled child sexual abuse.
That’s why the first glimmer of light at Penn State since last Friday, when the grand jury indictment of long-time Paterno assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was announced, came Wednesday night, when the trustees announced the end of Paterno’s and Spanier’s tenures.
The decision had to be made. There was no alternative. The question was not if, not even when, but how. And the board’s vice chairman, John Surma, handled the volatile situation very well, I thought. He offered no great details, just generalizations, but the cold, hard truth — that this iconic man, this legendary figure in State College, Pa., had failed morally and was no longer a suitable leader for Penn State — was not what the campus needed Wednesday night. Not what it could stand.
The university needed a change. Quickly, decisively, unanimously. No way could Penn State stage a football game Saturday at Beaver Stadium, with Paterno coaching. No way could Penn State have a celebration, which is what a football game in a place like State College amounts to, mere days after this story came to light. No way could Penn State risk turning its 100,000-seat coliseum into a stage of support for a coach who failed the basic tenets of leadership.
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