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OPINION: Punishment too severe for Paterno, not for everything else

Opinion by Loren Kopff

Almost two weeks after the Pennsylvania State University football program got hit with “death penalty”-like sanctions from the NCAA in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal, I’m still in shock. Not because the university was banned from playing in a bowl game for four years, dinged for a monster $60 million fine or had scholarships reduced.

I’m still in shock that the late Joe Paterno, once the NCAA’s Division I winningest coach, is no longer that. Now, don’t get the wrong idea. I don’t defend Paterno remaining silent when he was initially made aware of what that monster had done to those young children. Yes, he had the right to stop the criminal acts of Sandusky a long time ago and I wish he had.

Like most college football fans, I grew up idolizing coaches like Paterno, Barry Switzer of the University of Oklahoma and Bobby Bowden of Florida State University, who now needs 32 wins to become the NCAA’s Division I winningest coach.

But, to vacate the 111 victories from 1998-2011 was not the right punishment. Paterno did not play any ineligible players, either with or without his knowledge. Paterno did not have any players receive gifts, money, bribes, etc. like Reggie Bush of the University of Southern California did not too long ago. Paterno did not have his players cheat during an online exam like Florida State University did in 2006 and 2007. Paterno did not have players receive tattoos in exchange for pieces of memorabilia like Ohio State University did in 2010.

All Paterno was guilty of is not manning up and telling the police that Sandusky had abused children. How does that constitute vacating his victories? In fact, what constitutes the NCAA taking away victories from a coach or a program? Anything and everything? No. I didn’t realize that remaining silent could cost a coach victories.

Now I wonder if every coaching victory is legitimate because there are coaches and programs out there that cheat, but have not been caught yet. There’s that word again-cheat. Paterno did not cheat. He just remained silent. Penn State did not cheat. University administrators just remained silent.

Woody Hayes, who coached Ohio State University from 1951-1978, punched Charlie Bauman of Clemson University during the Gator Bowl in 1978. That would be the last game Hayes coached but he didn’t have any wins vacated for punching a player.

I don’t get it.

Southern Methodist University was placed on the death penalty in 1987 after an investigation revealed, among other things, that players were receiving money. Bobby Collins was the SMU head coach from 1982-1986 before resigning in the wake of the investigation. But all of his 43 victories are still standing and he was never sanctioned by the NCAA. Again, I don’t get it.

A coach remains silent and his victories are vacated but another coach can punch a player or boosters can pay players and all that is done is he gets fired? The NCAA needs to determine what can result in victories being vacated.

My heart goes out to the families and children who were victims of this disgusting crime. At the same time, I’m saddened to see this happen to someone like Paterno, who was adorned by so many fans. I wish he could have done the right thing and I wish he could still be alive to finally speak up and explain himself. I don’t condone his silence but to take away 111 victories was wrong.

Note: Loren Kopff is the Sports Editor for Hews Media Group.

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What?
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What?

“All Paterno was guilty of is not manning up and telling the police that Sandusky had abused children”. Seriously? All Joe Paterno did was choose to protect HIS football program rather than tell the police that Sandusky abused children. All Joe Paterno did was choose to protect HIS legacy rather than tell the police that Sandusky abused children. How can you trivialize these choices- they were were wrong on every level- PSU is a University not a football team and PSU was not instituted to serve Joe Paterno- rather Joe Paterno was paid to serve PSU. Sadly Mr. Paterno is… Read more »

Jon KIng
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Jon KIng

Stop saying Paterno told his bosses. He HAD NO BOSSES. He threw them out when they asked him to retire.

Paterno told them NOT to report Sandusky in 2001 and that is what they did, followed Paterno’s orders.

Jon KIng
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Jon KIng

What a backwards opinion. The only reason for the cover up was to protect the football program. Had Paterno made sure Sandusky was punished, the man who designed the winning defense, the program would have been rocked and the top recruits would go elsewhere.

By hiding Sandusky all that time the program’s reputation remained intact and gave them a direct on the field advantage by keeping the top recruits coming. The cover up, by Paterno, gave him some of those wins.

JT Thomas
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JT Thomas

The problem is too many in the media have misrepresented, misreported the facts. PSU Timeline www.yardbird.com/corbett_sandusky_psu_timeline.htm americanfreepress.net/?p=5131 dmnewsi.com/2012/07/26/dmn-in-depth-the-chicken-ranch-sanduskys-second-mile/ deadspin.com/5925401/joe-paterno-gave-jerry-sandusky-the-option-to-keep-coaching-as-long-as-he-was-the-coach 1998 Police Report msnbcmedia.msn.com/i/MSNBC/Sections/NEWS/redactedpolicereport.pdf www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2012/03/patriot-news_exclusive_psychol.html (added 7/31) Schultzs file from 98 notpsu.blogspot.com/2012/08/schultzs-secret-file-could-exonorate-psu.html (added 8/3) Ray Gricar www.conspiracyplanet.com/channel.cfm?channelid=2&contentid=9253&page=2 Inside CYS www.blackshoediaries.com/2012/6/19/3094803/Inside-CYS-Sandusky-Penn-State notpsu.blogspot.com/2012/08/a-letter-to-rainn.html (added 8/2) Who gave Sandusky Emeritus Status bellalu0.wordpress.com/2012/07/13/q-a-who-gave-sandusky-office-space-and-emeritus-status/ PSU Police Force is real Police www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2011/11/penn_state_scandal_should_campus_cops_have_reported_the_allegations_of_abuse_.html Gary Schultz, SVP for Finance and Business in 2001, was the recognized Police Commissioner www.police.psu.edu/cleryact/documents/116593_PolicySafety_UP.pdf (added 7/31) Former police chief Thomas Harmon www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2011/12/twitter_timeline_psu_police_of.html (added 8/1) deadspin.com/5868787/former-penn-state-police-chief-testifies-that-psu-administrator-never-told-him-about-2002-sandusky-shower-incident (added 8/1) Wendall Courtney onwardstate.com/2011/11/09/current-second-mile-counsel-courtney-previously-worked-for-psu/ (added 8/1) Who was considered mandatory reporter cumberlink.com/sports/penn-state-fb/article_19416b16-0bd6-11e1-b9f8-001cc4c03286.html Child Protective Services Law sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/michael_mccann/11/09/joe.paterno/index.html#ixzz22KSTR1dO (added… Read more »

Susan Mills
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Susan Mills

You appear to have omitted some very important information. through their silence The Great Joe Paterno, Graham Spanier, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz created an environment for Sandusky’s perverted actions to thrive. Without their “silence” many young boys would not have been raped. I am so tired of selfish self center people opening their mouths and letting stupidity flow from within. This issue is about 4 or more men in positions of power within an organization that looked the other way allowing many (I am sure we will never know just how many) young boys to be raped and have… Read more »

Annie K
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Annie K

Well said!

glen
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glen

You Joepologists are at it again, distorting facts in a vain attempt to salvage the tattered remnants of Paterno’s “legacy.”

Paterno’s own Grand Jury testimony reveals, in no uncertain terms, that he was told “something sexual” had occured between Sandusky and a boy.

So when you state that Mike McQueary “saw no sexual contact” you are contradicting your “hero” Joe Pa’s sworn testimony.

You are also wrong in stating that Paterno informed two people. He only told Tim Curley, his hand picked “errand boy.”

Bipartisan
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Bipartisan

Lets wait until all testimonies come out before passing judgment. To pull opinions from the freeh report and use them as facts is absolutely absurd. I’m sick of people that believe in due process being called “joepologists”. It’s innocent until proven guilty…and if you read the freeh report there is not one “FACT” that says joe covered anything up. Not one…just opinions from a former FBI director that has a history of F*cking up investigations and drawing false conclusions.

Bipartisan
Guest
Bipartisan

Lets wait until all testimonies come out before passing judgment. To pull opinions from the freeh report and use them as facts is absolutely absurd. I’m sick of people that believe in due process being called “joepologists”. It’s innocent until proven guilty…and if you read the freeh report there is not one “FACT” that says joe covered anything up. Not one…just opinions from a former FBI director that has a history of Screwing up investigations and drawing false conclusions.

Tim Berton
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Tim Berton

I agree mostly, except Paterno did not remain silent. He told Curley and Schultz, who told Spanier. Those three then told a lawyer and officials and a lawyer at the The Second Mile, which was the source of Sandusky’s victims. From McQueary’s testimony that he saw no sexual contact, one could easily believe that all Sandusky did was hug the boy in 2001, exactly what he did in 1998. The DA and PA Dept.of Public Welfare didn’t arrest Sandusky in 1998 because they determined that hugging a boy in the showers was not a state crime. Big Bill Tilden was… Read more »