Here we go again.
The Paterno family – which seemingly views itself as some sort of public trust – came figuratively charging down from the peaks of Mt. Nittany today to defend their father, their leader, The Great and Holy Joe Paterno.
Reacting to NCAA sanctions against Penn State that made exactly no mention of Paterno, the family released another statement slamming yet another organization for acting in haste, which, apparently, now includes reviewing millions of documents.
Here it is. Proceed with caution– you’re reading the words of deities: [via The Daily Collegian]
Sexual abuse is reprehensible, especially when it involves children, and no one starting with Joe Paterno condones or minimizes it. The horrific acts committed by Jerry Sandusky shock the conscience of every decent human being. How Sandusky was able to get away with his crimes for so long has yet to be fully understood, despite the claims and assertions of the Freeh report.
The release of the Freeh report has triggered an avalanche of vitriol, condemnation and posthumous punishment on Joe Paterno. The NCAA has now become the latest party to accept the report as the final word on the Sandusky scandal. The sanctions announced by the NCAA today defame the legacy and contributions of a great coach and educator without any input from our family or those who knew him best.
That the President, the Athletic Director and the Board of Trustees accepted this unprecedented action by the NCAA without requiring a full due process hearing before the Committee on Infractions is an abdication of their responsibilities and a breach of their fiduciary duties to the University and the 500,000 alumni. Punishing past, present and future students of the University because of Sandusky’s crimes does not serve justice. This is not a fair or thoughtful action; it is a panicked response to the public's understandable revulsion at what Sandusky did.
The point of due process is to protect against this sort of reflexive action. Joe Paterno was never interviewed by the University or the Freeh Group. His counsel has not been able to interview key witnesses as they are represented by counsel related to ongoing litigation. We have had no access to the records reviewed by the Freeh group. The NCAA never contacted our family or our legal counsel. And the fact that several parties have pending trials that could produce evidence and testimony relevant to this matter has been totally discounted.
Unfortunately all of these facts have been ignored by the NCAA, the Freeh Group and the University.
They released a similar statement yesterday, when their father’s statue came down. Their viewpoints are twofold: 1) the family is not being contacted to give their input on decisions being made relating to Joe Paterno and 2) due process is not being followed.
1) In how many other instances involving the misdeeds of public figures have we seen a family so heavily involved in a process that reaches well beyond the confines of one person’s existence? No one has to contact the Paterno family for anything. None of this involves anything tangible. A statue? A wins record? Who cares?! Be happy your father died somewhat peacefully before the entire bucket of shit hit the fan. Yeah, yeah, we know– he wasn’t a monster. He simply made some (many?) grave mistakes. We get it. He did a lot of good, too. Noted. But complaining that you weren’t consulted to give an obvious (and 100% understandable) one-sided opinion of your father? That’s like a guy's family being pissed off that an ex-girlfriend didn’t consult them before dumping their precious little Johnny. He’s a great guy. Really. Don’t him hurt like this. Sure, he’s crazy possessive and hid that he was cheating on your for 12 years… but he bought you great gifts. And we like him, a lot. What good is that going to do? None. The issues surrounding Joe Paterno and his legacy are mostly matters of public opinion. Which brings us to…
2) Due process? Interview key witnesses? Ongoing litigation? THIS ISN’T A COURT CASE (yet). We’re talking statues, wins records, and the ability for a football team to play in bowl games. Fuck. Yeah, we know– it sucks for many. Got it, P family. Thanks. But these are subjective and intangible issues relating to your father. Statues are erected (no pun) for the public to honor people for their contributions to ______. But, when public opinion is dramatically swayed beyond repair, those permanent reminders simply serve as permanent distractions. There’s no burden of proof as it relates to a statue, no need for anyone one – not Freeh, not Penn State, not the NCAA – to get a conviction. The facts are out there, and they’re not good ones. Ditto for wins records, legacy and all that nonsense, which, as we’ve come to learn over the past few months and days, are really trivial matters. Most of these things are honors reserved for only a few– the great ones. Most thought Joe Paterno was a part of that group… but not anymore. He was just a man with a loving family. A loving family that needs to shut up.