Michael Novack says the lilliputians on the Penn State Board of Trustees gave Joe Paterno a raw deal
First news of the Sandusky scandal, in which longtime defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was accused of sexually molesting underage boys, broke in March 2011, and it came before the board of trustees that June. They said it was not a Penn State problem, because Sandusky had left the university in 1999, though he continued to use an office there for several more years. It was a problem for the institution Sandusky had founded, the Second Mile organization for youngsters.
Then, quite suddenly in November 2011, with a huge national scandal erupting, the board suddenly acted as if the burden were on them. They did not weigh their own responsibility, their own inaction, their own failure to get to the bottom of the scandal of five months earlier. In a fit of what to many alumni seems to have been fear for themselves, the board’s members ducked their own responsibility, and in the most ignoble and impersonal way, made JoePa, the moral giant of Penn State, a moral outcast.
What did they do? Despite the fact that JoePa had said he was going to resign after the 2011 season was over, they gave Joe (after nearly 60 years of leadership unparalleled in the annals of any university) over to the national press and the national mob as a scapegoat, to bear the whole heartbreaking scandal on his shoulders, to be burned as a live offering, in expiation of their sins.