Joe Paterno, the Legendary Penn St. Football Coach Whose Career Ended This Past Fall When He Was Fired Amid Child Sex Scandal, Dead at 85

Jan 22, 2012  •  Post A Comment

"Legendary former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, fired in November after 46 years as head coach in the wake of a child sex abuse scandal involving an assistant, died [today, Jan. 22, 2012], his family said in a statement," reports Reuters.

The article continues, saying that this past fall Paterno "disclosed he had treatable lung cancer shortly after university trustees ousted him for failing to tell police about a sex abuse allegation years earlier against longtime assistant coach Jerry Sandusky."

According to a number of media accounts, Paterno, 85, died of complications from his lung cancer. He died at Mount Nittany Medical Center in State College, Pa

In its obituary today The Morning Call newspaper in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley writes about the child sex abuse scandal that when Paterno heard about it, "Paterno did what was legally required: He reported the incident to his superior. And this is where the story disconnected from anything we would have imagined. Paterno had built an empire on integrity, accountability and doing things the right way. He called it his Grand Experiment, the idea you could win big without sacrificing ethics or dignity. Everyone, including Paterno, seemed to agree: He should have done more."

The Morning Call also wrote in its article:

Last week, [Paterno] sat down with Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post and explained his reaction to McQueary’s shocking disclosure. [Mike McQueary, a former Penn State quarterback and graduate assistant, had reported to Paterno in 2002 seeing Sandusky molest a young boy in the locker room showers.]

"I didn’t know exactly how to handle it," Paterno said. "And I was afraid to do something that might jeopardize what the university procedure was. So I backed away and turned it over to some other people, people I thought would have a little more expertise than I did. It didn’t work out that way."

Paterno seemed to be suggesting that a man of his generation might not have understood exactly what McQueary was talking about.

"You know," Paterno told the Post, "he didn’t want to get specific. And to be frank with you I don’t know that it would have done any good, because I never heard of, of, rape and a man. So I just did what I thought was best. I talked to people I thought would be, if there was a problem, that would be following up on it."

Paterno said, "I had never had to deal with something like that. And I didn’t feel adequate."

Unfortunately, Paterno’s explanation, for a man of his ilk, seemed to many inadequate. It did not explain how Paterno would continue to provide Sandusky access to facilities."

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