By Eric Schlotzhauer –
With all the scandalous events unfolding at Penn State University, Joe Paterno decided to take a leave after the current football season, but that was not enough for the Board of Trustees who took control of his fate.
Penn Manor alumni who attend Penn State and other local high school alums are torn about the events in State College and the resulting turmoil.
Paterno, Penn State football coach, was fired after 61 years of service to the school. All of this happened when Jerry Sandusky was charged with allegedly raping multiple boys dating back to 1994. Paterno knew of the allegations and told higher authority about it, doing everything right under legal terms.
A melting pot of emotions and opinions are surfacing throughout the college, Penn Manor High School, and the nation.
“The moral responsibility of all the leadership positions within the association (both coaching and academic) was thrown out the window like a red headed step child,” said Erick Dutchess, Penn Manor Biology teacher, with a half joking demeanor.
“I personally think he should have been fired,” said Casey Wells, Penn Manor alumni who now attends Penn State University as a freshman.
Paterno has made multiple statements during the course of the scandal investigation starting with his decision to retire prior to the Board of Trustee’s news conference.
“That’s why I have decided to announce my retirement effective at the end of this season. At this moment the Board of Trustees should not spend a single minute discussing my status. They have far more important matters to address. I want to make this as easy for them as I possibly can. This is a tragedy. It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more,” said Paterno in a statement before the break of the news of his contract being terminated.”
Wednesday’s press conference regarding Paterno’s fate broke the news at approximately 10:15 p.m.
“The university is much larger than its athletic teams,” board vice chair John Surma said during a news conference. “The Penn State board of trustees tonight decided it is in the best interest of the university to have a change in leadership to deal with the difficult issues that we are facing.”
Directly following the Board of Trustees announcement that University President Graham Spanier, and Paterno would no longer be a part of the college, gasps and objections echoed through the room.
“I am disappointed with the Board of Trustees’ decision, but I have to accept it,” said Paterno after hearing the boards final decision on the matter. “A tragedy occurred, and we all have to have patience to let the legal process proceed. I appreciate the outpouring of support but want to emphasize that everyone should remain calm and please respect the university, its property and all that we value. I have been incredibly blessed to spend my entire career working with people I love. I am grateful beyond words to all of the coaches, players and staff who have been a part of this program. And to all of our fans and supporters, my family and I will be forever in your debt.”
Paterno was delivered a letter containing a phone number in which he called, and the board members told him that they would no longer be needing his service as head coach of Penn State’s football team. Students and fans believed Paterno deserved more than a phone call after being coach for more than four decades.
Paterno announced how devastated he was about hearing the charges of the sex scandal, but he is not the only one devastated over the whole thing. With all the news of Paterno hitting the air, the victims are sometimes shoved under the rug.
“The whole situation is so messed up. I feel for the victims and their families,” said Josh Carle, a Penn Manor alumni and now a student at Penn State University as a Freshman
“WE ARE…angry that innocents would be violated under our care,” said Brittany Jones, Penn State freshman via Facebook.
“As bad as I feel for JoePa, no matter what, we will ALWAYS have him. I can’t imagine what the victims are going through. They should’ve never experienced things like that. I think it is hard to see how they are all being overshadowed by these events. My thoughts and prayers go out to them,” said Tyler Pobursky, a local high school student and devoted Penn State fan, via Facebook.
Penn State fans, students and employees have shown sympathy for the victims throughout the scandal. Students rallying and rioting in the streets of University Park wanted the nation to see their feeling of anger, sadness and betrayal.
“A news van got flipped over and windows were broken,” said Wells. “People got tear gassed and hit with rocks.”
Penn State students have been insistent that the destruction and violence of the riots were a select few from the university.
“WE ARE…in support of appropriate punishment for every person involved,” said Jones via Facebook.
Penn State’s Football team will play their last home game of the season this Saturday against Nebraska.
“A lot of people just aren’t going and there is going to be a blue-out,” said Carle.
Students have announced that the game will be a blue-out instead of the “norm,” which is a white-out, to support child abuse awareness. Police have warned the students that poor behavior will not be tolerated during Saturday’s game.
“There was a rumor that all the seniors weren’t going to play in the game,” said Carle.
While most people bid farewell, reminiscing on the legacy he left behind, some who remain say they have no faith in the Penn State Football program.
“They will rebound with another coaching hire,” said Dutchess. “They will continue to propel the program into its current downward spiral.”
“I don’t think Joe understands the ramifications of the last 10 years of his coaching tenure. I believe he will find a happy life at home eating ice cream and watching Penn State lose to Pitt in 2016,” said Dutchess with a lack of emotion.
Time will tell how the college and their football team will recover from this tragedy. It is apparent that everyone wishes for the well-being of the victims, and it will take time for things to go back to usual.
“WE ARE…PENN STATE proud and we will rise again,” said Jones via Facebook.