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The Sad, Troubling End for Joe Paterno and Penn State

**By now you've had the opportunity to get to know the third man of the ETSF operation, The Rev. Paul Revere. The man is also an alum of Penn State, and today the floor is his to speak his piece on his school, his coach, and his beloved program.**

I want to preface this by apologizing for the emotional nature and tenor of this piece. As a lifelong Penn State fan and dedicated alum, my emotions are running deep. Many more people out there have covered and are covering the horror in Happy Valley much more eloquently and professionally than I have and am about to, and I feel obligated to share that with you. But as someone who has spent his entire life in admiration of Pennsylvania State University and Joe Paterno, and as someone who became part of the university's family, I feel it is my duty to share what I'm feeling and thinking right now, as my alma mater goes through the single worst scandal in NCAA history. And yes, that includes the troubling murder of Baylor basketball player Patrick Dennehy and the attempts of cover-up. As terrible as that was, it was a one-time tragedy. Jerry Sandusky's predatory actions on adolescent boys was a disturbing pattern over decades, maybe even longer. This is the reaction of one stunned lifetime member of the Penn State Alumni Association.

As I am writing this, legendary Penn State head coach Joe Paterno, the all-time winningest coach in major college football history and two-time national champion, has not vacated his position as the university's football coach, but he soon will one way or the other. It is going to happen, and it sadly has to happen in light of the horrifying actions of his longtime assistant Jerry Sandusky and the inconceivable inaction of Penn State administrators with information about the alleged abuse, Paterno included.

By now, everyone knows the details. They are heinous. They are unbelievable. And they are unforgivable. Jerry Sandusky should never be allowed to see the sun shine or the stars flicker for the remainder of his miserable life. He is the worst kind of a human being, a sick monster who betrayed the public's trust and preyed on children. He is not worth another thought or ounce of breadth, so I won't even waste any more space on him.

As a community, it was a shock to hear of these alleged crimes. It made everyone from all over the world disgusted and horrified. These children and their families must deal with this the rest of their lives. Their innocence was taken, never to be regained again. And my university had a hand in allowing it all to happen.

I cannot begin to describe how embarrassed and ashamed I am right now that the people who were supposed to have the best interests of the university, its students, its alumni and its community in mind with everything they do have tarnished a school, a reputation, and most vial of all, did nothing to prevent a monster from harming children.

The level of negligence, incompetence and lack of basic human decency is astounding. As someone who takes pride in being a Penn Stater, I didn't even want to read the 23-page grand jury presentment, but when I knew I was going to — had to — share my feelings on the subject, I forced myself through it. Plain and simple, everyone involved needs to go, and that includes the great Joe Paterno.

This is, quite literally, a nightmare. Not the most creative evil genius could have scripted this ending for the architect of the "Grand Experiment." For my entire life and long before it, Joe Paterno and Penn State stood for something more. For the past half-century, the head football coach has done more than anyone in college athletics for young men and women. He has donated millions of dollars to his university, been involved in countless charities, was always swift to take care of any misdeeds by his players, never had a single major NCAA violation and truly meant it when he said his players were students first, athletes second. Penn State has always been among the nation's best in graduation rates under Paterno, and he's run the cleanest program you can imagine.

And yet, when informed that one of his longtime assistants was doing something inappropriate with a child, he did the bare minimum required by law. So did Mike McQueary, the graduate assistant in the presentment. Worse, athletic director Tim Curley and finance officer Gary Schultz didn't even do the bare minimum, failing to notify police of the reported incident, failing to look into past allegations and allowing Sandusky to remain around campus. And president Graham Spanier failed to properly press Curley and Schultz and find out what was really going on, ultimately signing off on nothing but a slap on the wrist for a potential child predator.

Now, I have to admit that it's easy to sit here and cast judgment. When you take a step back and really think about things, you can see the human element of what may have been going through the heads of these men. McQueary was a graduate assistant trying to work his way up the coaching ranks, and he had to fear that bringing on a criminal investigation against a legend in the program could potentially ostracize him from his alma mater. Paterno, who I'm sure thought he knew Sandusky extremely well and considered him a close friend, probably couldn't fathom someone so close to him doing something so horrific, thus he reported what he heard and left it at that, I'm sure hoping it wasn't true. And Curley, Schultz and even Spanier had to imagine the bad PR hit the university would take if a longtime member was suddenly viewed a child predator. You can understand those thoughts if you distance yourself from the actions. But you cannot understand or accept the courses of action all of these men took, because at the end of the day, these actions put children in danger.

Simple human decency trumps all in the welfare of children. McQueary and Paterno should have notified police immediately. Same goes for Curley and Schultz and Spanier. But even with following protocol, you would think McQueary would be uneasy seeing Sandusky around campus, which he undoubtedly had to, after witnessing what he did, and that he would start asking questions and eventually go to police himself since so little was done. The same for Paterno and Spanier for that matter.

I'm appalled that a university that openly displays its almost holier than thou "success with honor" dictum could allow this to happen. When you tout yourself as a coach and an institution entrenched in its morals, you have to be held to that standard. That means doing right, no matter what the consequences. There are few universal truths in the world, but one of them is that preying on children should be prevented at all costs and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. In this instance, that did not happen. Now everyone must be held accountable by losing their jobs and working to do good the rest of their lives in the community they've now helped tarnish in one form or another.

When you look back at all the university has done and all that Joe Paterno has accomplished, we can still be proud. He should be remembered far more the good he has done, however I fear that won't be the case, even in due time. Not when the controversy is so enormous. We won't feel that pride again for a long, long time, and we won't be able to even begin to heal until the university cuts all ties with those involved and wipes the slate clean.

It's a sad, troubling end to what we thought was a near flawless legacy. I hate to see it go this route, but it must be done. We are Penn State, and we are angry. We are upset. We are disgusted. We are heartbroken. We are sick. We are troubled. We are ashamed and embarrassed and outraged and emotional. I've been choking up and near tears reading and watching what's been going on, and the wounds just keep going deeper.

Everything we thought our university stood for was betrayed. Now the end is near. The grand experiment is over. The world really is a cruel place, and for those of us in the Penn State family, it will never be the same again. Sadly, that goes for the Joe Paterno legend as well.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families, and to them I can only say that my university owed you more. You deserved better. As a society, we all deserve better and we should demand better from the people we trust with the welfare of our communities. Not even Joe Paterno can come away unscathed from this one.

-Rev. Paul Revere


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