No Alternative: Joe Paterno Fired

Relief. That was my first thought when I turned on ESPN late last night and saw Joe Paterno, legendary football coach from Penn State, had been fired by the University’s Board of Trustees in an emergency meeting. This action by the Board was the apex of a whirlwind of anger, shock, and general disbelief since the indictments of former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky on molestation charges and current athletic director and vice president on cover-up charges. This is one of those instances in athletics that transcends sport and makes everyone in America take a look in the mirror.

Those in Atlanta are familiar with these special sports moments. We had one just a few years ago when Michael Vick was accused, and later convicted, of the abuse and mistreatment of dogs. Vick was vilified in the media, bankrupted, and later outcast and sent to jail to serve almost two years behind bars. And those victims were dogs. The scandal in Penn State is much, much worse.

As a father, son, and former college athlete the events in Penn State make my stomach turn. I’ve been in locker rooms. I’ve had coaches that I respected like father figures. The trust between coaches and players is the difference between good and bad teams. The moral contract between players and coaches goes something like this – a coach convinces his players that he has their best interests at heart and the players lay down their guards and do as the coaches say. Sandusky abused this mind control and used it to molest at least eight young kids and probably many more.

Paterno is not without blame. When told about a specific incident of Sandusky molesting a child in the Penn State locker room, Paterno followed the sexual harassment protocol and reported the incident to the athletic director. According to the Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner, after reporting the incident to the athletic director Paterno did not follow up again. Although Paterno claims he was not told about the specifics of Sandusky’s sexual act, he admits that he was told it was “something of a sexual nature” regarding a young boy.

Paterno said at his press conference yesterday that he should have done more. Well if that isn’t the understatement of the week than what is? Paterno deserved to be fired for not doing everything in his power to make sure that the man he was told was doing “something of a sexual nature” to a young boy would not have another opportunity to abuse another child. By merely telling his superior, he implicitly allowed a child predator to prey on others. The thought of seeing any of the individuals involved at another college football game would be a disservice to the victims and the University.
Cabral Franklin


  1. pearl cleage says: