Earlier this morning, Miami New
Times editor Chuck Strouse penned a column bemoaning the epic
fall of Joe Paterno, the iconic face of Penn State who has won more
football games than any other college coach in the modern era. Last
night, the school's board of trustees canned Paterno before he could
finish his 45th and final season, in the wake of his
failure to properly report allegations of child sex abuse committed
by his longtime friend and former defensive coach Jerry Sandusky.
Strouse argues Paterno deserves to finish out the season and that he
is being demonized for merely having a "peripheral connection" to
the scandal. It's an incredulous argument given what we know about
Paterno's role and our mission at New Times to viciously tear
down sacred cows involved in evil acts.
Based on the grand jury report, Paterno had a direct link to the accusations leveled against Sandusky when in 2002 graduate assistant Mike McQueary informed the head coach about the rape of a 10-year-old kid he had witnessed.
Paterno told investigators McQueary didn't provide specifics, but that the graduate assistant (now a Penn State assistant coach) admitted to seeing Sandusky "in the Lasch Building showers fondling or doing something of a sexual nature to a young boy."
The grand jury report also notes that when Paterno informed athletic director Tim Curley about what McQueary had seen, JoePa described Sandusky's conduct as "disturbing" and "inappropriate."
Paterno ended his involvement there. He never pressed Curley or other school administrators to find out if the cops were called, and he never reported the alleged crime to law enforcement. JoePa was at peace knowing he had kicked it up the chain of command.
Had Paterno acted morally by following up to make sure the incident was investigated by police, he probably would have prevented Sandusky from terrorizing other children, which is described in sickening graphic detail in the grand jury report.
Strouse cheapened the significance and gravity of Sandusky's predatory behavior right under Paterno's nose by saying there are more important things to worry and report about, like poverty and attacks on free speech.
It is an important national story because Paterno has long been canonized as a force for good. He's been held up as a paragon of moral virtue who transcended one of the most corrupt institutions in America: collegiate athletics. But when he really needed to use that moral virtue, Paterno chose not to.
Given the chance, it's a subject matter New Times would expose, not defend.
So good riddance, JoePa.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.