After the winningest coach in major college football history became a casualty of an ugly scandal at Penn State, many of the university’s students vented their anger at the media, The New York Times reports.
Penn State fired coach Joe Paterno Wednesday night, triggering a mass demonstration by thousands of students in downtown State College, Pa. The firing was part of a growing scandal stemming from allegations that one of Paterno’s former assistant coaches, Jerry Sandusky, sexually assaulted young boys, the story reports.
The angry students overturned a television news van that was covering the protest, one of a number of destructive acts attributed to the mob.
The Times piece reports: “They turned their ire on a news van, a symbolic gesture that expressed a view held by many that the news media exaggerated Mr. Paterno’s role in the scandal.”
One student, freshman Mike Clark, is quoted in the story saying: “I think the point people are trying to make is the media is responsible for JoePa going down.”
The story adds: “Demonstrators tore down two lamp posts, one falling into a crowd. They also threw rocks and fireworks at the police, who responded with pepper spray. The crowd undulated like an accordion, with the students crowding the police and the officers pushing them back.”
Opinions vary widely on the culpability of Paterno in the scandal. Many of the demonstrators feel he fulfilled his responsibility when he notified the athletic director of a 2002 accusation involving Sandusky and a young boy in a university shower, while other observers say Paterno had an obligation to go to the police.