What did JoPa know and when did he know it?

No one's smiling in Penn State University's Happy Valley today. Long-time assistant coach Jerry Joe-PaternoSandusky has been accused of 40 counts of inappropriate contact with eight young boys, ranging from touching to statutory rape.

If he's found guilty, the Nittany Lions coach may spend the rest of his life in jail. And, two other PSU officials have resigned in the shocking scandal's aftermath.

The really big questions, though, are swirling around legendary PSU coach Joe Paterno (or, JoPa, as he's affectionately known). The winningest football coach in Division One history says he was told about the allegations in 2002 and passed them up the food chain, but that's it. Pretty weak, no?

I think JoPa's in denial. I think the head coach knew about Sandusky's hijinks all along. And, worse, I think he helped cover it up in a Nixonian bid to maintain his power base (clearly, the guy has no interest in ever retiring).

Paterno certainly had the power and motivation to cover-up the scandal if he chose to do so. After all, Sandusky was his top lieutenant for decades.

Regardless of what he did or didn't know, JoPa's legacy will be forever tainted by the Happy Valley scandal.

And, depending upon how aggressive top school officials are in admitting fault and implementing change, the university itself may be likened to a collegiate version of The Vatican. Maybe the school will even take a page out of the Church's play book and blame others for its own sins (i.e. “Sadly, Assistant Coach Sandusky is yet another victim of the sexual liberation that pervaded the 1960s.”).

For the sake of the school's image, if not his own, Coach Paterno needs to come clean and answer two basic, Watergate-inspired questions:

– What did JoPa know?
– And, when did he know it?

His answers will determine whether the sex scandal is an unfortunate footnote to JoPa's legendary career or college coaching's version of Watergate. If the latter proves to be the case, I wonder if David Frost might be interested in a sequel? Nah. 'Frost: Paterno' doesn't have the same panache.

11 thoughts on “What did JoPa know and when did he know it?

  1. Repman never intimated he’d grown fond of third person narrative, PEngel. Rather, he was pointing out how absurdly egotistical it makes the person using it appear. As far as another guest blog from you, Repman says “pass” based upon the reader indifference to your last attempt. He does thank you for your continued interest in the blog, though.

  2. Sad but true.
    If you’re now becoming enamored of third-person usage, does that mean a Herman Cain column will soon be on its way? If not, I’m willing to contribute one.

  3. Repman seldom pats Repman on the back, but Repman had this pegged from the get go. JoePa will be forever remembered as the Richard M. Nixon of collegiate football. BTW, you’ll appreciate my use of the third person after reading Thursday’s blog. Repman out.

  4. While serving as the Marine Forces Pacific Chaplain based on Oahu from 1999 to 2002, I was told by a Navy Chaplain that a Catholic Chaplain whom I recruited years earlier was cohabitating with a male sailor in Honolulu. The alleged cohabitating Catholic chaplain was not serving with Marines, and was not one of the some 150 chaplains that I supervised. However, because he was a priest of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, U.S.A., I reported the matter in a letter dated May 6, 2002 to the Military Archbishop in Washington, D.C.
    I did not take any further action in this regard. The priest/chaplain in question did not work for me just as Jerry Sandusky did not work for Joe Paterno who was told that Sandusky appeared to be sexually involved with a boy in a locker room shower in 2002. Might the alleged cohabitating priest merely been offering a sailor a place to stay before he was able to secure more permanent quarters? Might the incident in the shower been inappropriate “horseplay” that was not a more serious long-term problem? I believed it was within the purview of the Military Archbishop to determine the seriousness of the allegations. I tend to think that Joe Paterno trusted that Tim Curley would likewise have investigated the allegations and taken appropriate action.
    In 2007, five years after I reported the matter involving the alleged cohabitation, the priest in question was arrested and charged with aggravated assault, indecent assault, fraternization, forcible and consensual sodomy, and conduct unbecoming an officer. Just as Tim Curley and Gary Schultz are accused of failing to take appropriate action involving alleged sexual abuse on the part of Jerry Sandusky, so too I believe the former Military Archbishop failed to investigate and take action in the case of the priest who was later convicted of engaging in sex with young Naval Academy midshipmen and Marines while he knowingly was HIV positive.
    In 1985, Father Tom Doyle, while working at the Vatican Embassy, wrote a report that was sent to the Vatican about a very serious sexual abuse problem involving priests and mainly teenaged boys. We all know now that the Vatican did not take appropriate action and thousands of young people continued to be abused. When the matter was exposed by the Boston Globe in 2002, the same year I wrote the Military Archbishop and the same year Joe Paterno reported alleged abuse to Tim Curley, should Tom Doyle have been accused of not taking appropriate action? Should he be defrocked because he trusted that the Vatican would handle the matter in a just manner?
    Because I was not in any position to tell the Military Archbishop in 2002 how to do his job and investigate the matter I brought to his attention; and because Tom Doyle was in no position to tell the Pope or Vatican Officials like Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger how to handle the growing abuse problem he documented in his report; it is my opinion that it is unfair to argue that Joe Paterno should have done far more in 2002 than report the Sandusky matter to Tim Curley whom he had no reason to believe would not take appropriate action.

  5. Good stuff, Gaetano. It’ll be interesting to see if PSU’s communications department gets involved. The entire school’s image is taking a massive hit.

  6. Joe had to know in 1999…why did his successor suddenly retire at age 55 for no reason. Joe was trying to sweep it under the rug by moving him out in 1999. He probably hoped like some of the Catholic Bishops that what was really going on…wouldn’t see the light of day. I would be interested to hear JoePa explain why his successor “retired” at age 55…young by JoePa standards.

  7. Thanks Greg. Since Sandusky’s ‘activities” have been occurring since 1990, it strains credulity to imagine JoPa didn’t know about it until 2002.

  8. Say it ain’t so, Joe. College sports is as corrupt as the professional game. JoePa escapes this because Sandusky resigned before this came to light. But did he know anything BEFORE then? Unless he, too, lied (hey, come to think of it their mascot is a lion) to the grand jury. They ought to hang all of those involved.
    And then Paterno turns around and makes a statement to the effect that he hopes students will continue to consider Penn State for their education etc. How will this affect their athletic recruiting? Sure, Sandusky is gone and maybe one of these days Paterno will have the sense to retire as well and there will be a new regime. This is more than an “illegal procedure” penalty. It ranks with a “personal foul.”
    And Sandusky should go from Penn State to the state pen — penitentiary, that is.