Student and alumni opinions about honoring the legendary coach are mixed.
On September 17, Penn State University commemorated Joe Paterno on the 50th Anniversary of his first football game with two video presentations regarding his coaching and contributions to the school.
Because of Jerry Sandusky’s conviction of child molestation and Paterno’s links to the case, opinions were mixed.
According to Penn State’s Daily Collegian Editorial Board, this was not the right time to commemorate JoePa.The Daily Collegian Editorial also stated that even though Joe Paterno did make substantial contributions to the school, they are ready to move on.
Some Malvern alumni attending Penn State see the issue differently.
“I think that he had a wonderful career here,” Zach DeCarlo ’15 said. “His coaching skills should be honored.”
DeCarlo believes that the conviction that took place years ago involved one man, Jerry Sandusky. He believes that the scandal has no relevance nowadays and that the University’s decision to honor Paterno was justified.
“As a head football coach, he had a line of command to follow.” DeCarlo said. “In reality, he had to go the order of the hierarchy. He reported to his superiors and from there it went nowhere.”
According to DeCarlo, from the conversations he heard on campus regarding the commemoration, most people were thrilled. People thought that honoring Paterno was a great idea.
“The people that disagreed, from what I saw, were more international students,” DeCarlo said. DeCarlo further said “I don’t know how much they know prior [to the scandal] and I think that everyone that denied it tried to use the Freeh report [to base their opinions off of].”
The commemoration of Paterno resulted in national headlines, and many conflicting opinions.
Malvern parent and Penn State alumnus Mr. Mike Bradley believes Paterno deserved the recognition.
“While I have always felt sorry for the Sandusky victims, I believe that Paterno was a terrific football coach,” Bradley said. Bradley further stated that “Throughout his entire career, Paterno did many wonderful things both on and off the football field on behalf of the football program, Penn State University, and the entire community.”
Bradley also said that school spirit and pride at any University is very important. He also said that Paterno was instrumental in building a nationally recognized football program and students should be proud to attend Penn State University. Beyond the football program, according to Bradley, Paterno made generous donations including the Paterno Library and the Paterno Catholic Student Faith Center.
“In my opinion, Paterno took decisive action upon learning of the Sandusky issues from an assistant coach,” Bradley said. “Paterno reported the Sandusky issues to the Athletic Director and University President, then resumed his football coaching responsibilities. Upon reporting the Sandusky issues to the University Administrators, the ultimate resolution of the Sandusky issues were beyond Paterno’s control.”
Malvern parent Mr. Tom Pero, on the other hand, has a different opinion.
“At this point, I’m indifferent to the PSU Paterno commemoration,” Pero said. “I was a lifelong fan of JoePa, his team, and his accomplishments. However, he undoubtedly put the university in a precarious situation assisted by his family to continue to coach when he was no longer effective”
According to Pero, the commemoration has negatively affected the community and what was once a model program with a spotless reputation has now become a punchline. “I would appreciate if the Paterno family would remain silent,” he said.
“I’m ok with PSU honoring JoePa in the future, but they need to be smart and judicious with how and when,” Pero said. He believes that PSU has to “finally break the influence of the Paterno family.”
Story produced in senior Journalism and Media Literacy elective class.