Coach Joe Paterno and President Graham Spanier should leave Penn State University over their actions that followed allegations a former assistant molested boys inside the school’s football complex, according to editorials in newspapers in and out of the state.
The resignation call closest to the State College-based university came from the main newspaper in Pennsylvania’s capital city, the Harrisburg Patriot News, about 90 miles southeast of the university home known as Happy Valley.
Neither Paterno, 84, the winningest coach in the history of college football’s top division with 409 victories, nor Spanier, 63, Penn State’s president since 1995, did enough when informed of the alleged actions of Jerry Sandusky, a former defensive coordinator with the Nittany Lions who is accused of sexually assaulting eight boys in a 15-year span, the editorial said.
“Spanier needs to step aside,” according to the editorial, posted on the newspaper’s website, pennlive.com. “If he doesn’t, the university board of trustees needs to take that step when it meets this week. As for Joe Paterno, the face of Penn State and the man who has pushed for excellence on the football field and for the entire university, this must be his last season. His contract should not be extended.”
Other newspapers with editorials calling for the coach, the president or both to step down included the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and the Star-Ledger in Newark, New Jersey’s biggest city.
“This would be a sad and ignominious ending to Joe Paterno’s legacy, but it must be just that --- an ending, the Star-Ledger said. “The Penn State football coach and icon must not survive the sexual-abuse scandal that has rocked the school and the sports world. The school must cut him loose. Big-money boosters must stop protecting him. Fans must realize the time has come for the 84-year-old coach to step down.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer, the main newspaper in Pennsylvania’s biggest city, said Paterno should step down when his contract expires at the end the season, his 46th leading the team that has won two national championships during his tenure.
It began with the lament, “Say it ain’t so, Joe,” and said Paterno’s retirement, often discussed, would be “timelier than ever.”
Timothy Curley, Penn State’s athletic director, and Gary Schultz, vice president for finance and business, were charged by state prosecutors with failing to report allegations related to Sandusky and then lying to a grand jury about their knowledge of the allegation. Schultz, 62, retired and Curley, 57, requested administrative leave so he could defend himself.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly said yesterday that Paterno isn’t a target of her office’s investigation and had cooperated in the inquiry. Paterno said in a weekend statement that the allegations, if true, are “deeply troubling” and that “we were all fooled.”
Kelly wouldn’t comment at a news conference when asked if Spanier was a target of the probe.
Sandusky, 67, of State College, was freed on $100,000 bail over the weekend after being charged with sexual assaults or advances on eight boys from 1994 to 2009, when he was running Second Mile, a charitable organization for young people, Kelly said.
Curley and Schultz allegedly received a first-hand report of a 2002 sexual attack by Sandusky on a boy in the locker room shower and failed to report the alleged attack to police, Kelly said. A graduate assistant, who estimated the boy’s age at 10, first reported the case to Paterno, who then went to Curley, according to prosecutors.
Paterno said the witness he spoke with didn’t disclose the specific action contained in the grand jury report.
Frank Noonan, Pennsylvania’s state police commissioner, said at yesterday’s news conference in Harrisburg that the alleged attacks might have ended if a 1998 report on Sandusky was acted upon, “but nothing happened and nothing stopped.”
In that police investigation, Sandusky made admissions about “inappropriate conduct in a shower room,” Noonan said.
“Nothing happened,” the commissioner said. Two years later, the janitorial staff failed to report a similar incident because they feared for their jobs, Noonan said.
The Tribune News, in Pennsylvania’s second-biggest city, said the scandal must have full impact at the top of Penn State’s hierarchy.
“The courts will decide the fates of Sandusky, Curley and Schultz,” the newspaper said in the editorial posted on its website. “As for Paterno and Mr. Spanier, they must resign.”
The Sandusky case is Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Sandusky, MJ-49201-CR-636-2011, Centre County, Pennsylvania,