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Hartselle Enquirer

Sandusky Scandal Reaches New Low

I remember when the statue of Saddam Hussein was toppled in Iraq nearly a decade ago.

It was broadcast on live TV around the world and led to celebrations because one of the most infamous dictators of our time had been removed from office.

Fast forward to this weekend. A statue honoring the once highly regarded coach Joe Paterno was removed.

It didn’t happen in broad daylight and it didn’t cause celebrations. This time, it was done in the dark of night and in shame.

When you think of the greats in college football, you think of guys like Paul “Bear Bryant, Shug Jordan, Knute Rockne and General Robert Neyland. At one time, Paterno was listed among those.

However, one scandal has reduced Paterno and once highly-regarded Penn State University to a low point that few can believe, including myself.

If you’ve been paying any kind of attention to college football lately, Jerry Sandusky has been a name you should hear quite frequently. He is a former assistant football coach on the late Joe Paterno’s football staff. Sandusky retired in 1999, but he continued to hang around the program until last year.

Last month, Sandusky was convicted of sexual abuse of young boys over a 15-year period, many of which came from his non-profit charity The Second Mile. This organization was set up to help underprivileged children and at-risk youth.

Unfortunately, many of Sandusky’s victims were a part of this program.

And now this program and the legacy of Paterno lie in shambles.

In the Freeh report released a few days ago, implicated Paterno and three other high-ranking Penn State officials “failed to protect against a child sexual predator harming children for over a decade.”

That has since led to Paterno’s statue in Happy Valley being removed.

For all of my life, Paterno was regarded as everything that was right about college athletics. He was always regarded as building a program the right way and with integrity.

But now, that belief has disappeared just like the statue of JoePa. Everyone, especially those in the national sports media, believes that Paterno is just as guilty as Sandusky.

I don’t really know how much Paterno is to blame for this. He obviously allowed it to happen under his watch, but he didn’t commit any of Sandusky’s crime.

But that inaction has now left the late football coach’s career in ruins. Let’s try to learn from this and never let a heinous crime like this happen again.

 

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