Today, the Wall Street Journal ran a fantastic, must-read article which details Joe Paterno’s refusal to cooperate with former Penn State chief disciplinarian Vicky Triponey. Emails uncovered by the paper reveal a myriad incidents in which Paterno did his best to bail out Penn State football players who were accused of infractions ranging from shooting arrows to sexual assault. What’s worse, in emails, Triponey voiced her concerns to Graham Spanier about Paterno’s belief that football players shouldn’t be subject to the same punishment as other students.
Check out this bit of tid: [WSJ]
In an Aug. 12, 2005, email to Pennsylvania State University President Graham Spanier and others, Vicky Triponey, the university's standards and conduct officer, complained that Mr. Paterno believed she should have "no interest, (or business) holding our football players accountable to our community standards. The Coach is insistent he knows best how to discipline his players…and their status as a student when they commit violations of our standards should NOT be our concern…and I think he was saying we should treat football players different from other students in this regard."
The confrontations came to a head in 2007, according to one former school official, when six football players were charged by police for forcing their way into a campus apartment that April and beating up several students, one of them severely. That September, following a tense meeting with Mr. Paterno over the case, she resigned her post, saying at the time she left because of "philosophical differences."
Paterno’s eventual "punishment" for those players was that they had to help clean the stadium and participate in charity events. But more on that in a second.
The WSJ details other, similar clashes between Paterno and Triponey, who sports the template for female disciplinarian haircuts.
During one such clash, in 2004, Paterno gave an eery glimpse inside his thoughts on punishment and accountability: [WSJ]
"I can go back to a couple guys in the '70s who drove me nuts," he said. "The cops would call me, and I used to put them in bed in my house and run their rear ends off the next day. Nobody knew about it. That's the way we handled it."
Yeah, that’s not the way we do things in this world, Joe.
There’s an obvious parallel to be drawn here between Paterno’s views on disciplining players and the disappearing issue of Jerry Sandusky raping a boy in the shower: Joe Pa protects his own. Always.
And if you’re wondering why all of these red flags – which almost without fail showed Joe Pa’s use of kid gloves – went largely unaddressed by the media, you need to look no further than the bubble that is Happy Valley, where the blue pill is often a chosen dessert and whitewashing is a favorite pastime.
Here are some excerpts from the Daily Collegian about that 2007 incident mentioned earlier: [Daily Collegian]
A "disappointed" Joe Paterno addressed the football team regarding some players' alleged involvement in an assault at a downtown apartment party last weekend, a team spokesman said yesterday.
"The coaches addressed the team," said Guido D'Elia, Penn State's director of branding and communications. "[The players] know exactly where he stands on this. He was very clear."
Paterno said in May that the entire team must clean Beaver Stadium each Sunday after home football games as punishment.
"We're going to be up early in the morning cleaning the stadium," Connor said, "but you have to just do it."
Other activities included participating in several fundraising and goodwill events.
"We did Habitat for Humanity and the Special Olympics," Connor said. "As soon as you get there you realize you're helping people, and it's good. We should use our celebrity status … to help out people and set a good example."
Such harsh punishment, helping others…
Later that year, when asked about another fight involving football players, Paterno weighed in again: [Daily Collegian]
At his press conference, Paterno tried to shift the discussion away from the off-the-field distractions. He defended the players' work ethic and character and tried to spur discussion about Saturday's game.
"Can we talk about Wisconsin?" he asked. "We're fine. Let me handle the football team. As soon as I know enough to make some decisions I'll make them and that'll be it."
And that's about as much as he was usually pressed on those sorts of issues.
In 2000, when Rashard Casey was acquitted of any wrongdoing in the beating of an off-duty police officer in Hoboken, New Jersey (a crime that by all accounts he didn’t commit), the school paper fellated Joe for his “gut instincts": [Daily Collegian]
"I also want to commend coach Paterno for his handling of this situation," Penn State President Graham Spanier said. "We all try to make the right calls. And in the business of coaching or university administration, judgments have to be made. Joe Paterno has always stood for integrity in intercollegiate athletics and this will continue to be the case in the future."
But it was not the case in the past. Since Casey's arrest, Paterno has been criticized for sticking to his guns and sticking with Casey.
But Paterno also remembered Casey's character, and believed what the quarterback said to his coach.
"Just because I can look back and all the times I've met with him and spoken with him, that he knows the type of person I am and how I carry myself," Casey said at the beginning of the season.
"So, just by him believing in me, it means the world to me and to my family."
Coaches are paid to make to make the tough calls. And Paterno has earned his wage because he made the right one.
Score one for Paterno, but that sort of blind loyalty eventually cost him and his program.
Other times, when players did appear to be in the wrong – like in 2003, when Paterno benched Paul Jefferson in the Blue-White game for his alleged role in a fight – the university and its athletes wouldn't cooperate: [Daily Collegian]
Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar will not file charges stemming from an April altercation between members of the Penn State wrestling and football teams, following what he said to be lack of cooperation from those involved.
"What we have here are football players fighting wrestlers at [the] cheerleader house,'' Gricar said. "It's not clear to me who was the victim of what. Everyone is holding back information.''
Gricar, as you know, went missing in 2005. His laptop, floating in a river.
Of course, there are instances of Penn Staters speaking out about the program’s failure to hold players accountable. Check out this 2003 article, written by the brave Chris Korman, about sexual assault charges against Anwar Phillips, whose story is detailed in the Wall Street Journal article: [Daily Collegian]
State College bureau Associated Press writer Dan Lewerenz asked Curley when the news of Phillips' suspension reached his office. Curley, wanting only to discuss the joyous hiring of Ed DeChellis, was a bit shocked at the question.
Then he said that the university would be releasing a statement on the matter later in the day.
University president Graham Spanier also told Lewerenz that an official statement was forthcoming.
And, just so there could be some icing on this pass-the-blame cake, members of the sports information department confirmed that the mystical statement was on its way.
Needless to say, it never arrived.
To think that Paterno didn't know every little detail of the Judicial Affairs case is to be simply naive. Joe Paterno, even at the age of 76, controls every facet of the Penn State football program like a — gasp! — dictator. And he has apparently decided that he can do no wrong.
The only logical explanation for why Paterno would allow Phillips to play is that the old coach was sticking with what has worked recently.
In the Rashard Casey and R.J. Luke/T.C. Cosby cases, Paterno stood by his players all the way until all three were exonerated from assault charges.
In both cases, Paterno came out looking like a wise old benevolent king with the foresight to wait for hindsight to clear everything.
Again, that was written in 2003. Some of that sounds familiar, no?
Here’s more commentary from the Daily Collegian on the matter: [Daily Collegian]
Hey, Graham Spanier, Tim Curley, Joe Paterno: How loud is your silence?
According to police, Penn State football player Anwar Phillips admits he had sex with a woman even though he knew she didn't want to. Judicial Affairs sentences him to a two-semester probation — in December.
Yet in January, Phillips plays in the Capitol One Bowl. Now students and the media are asking questions: How is it that a student that admitted to and was sanctioned by the university for sexual assault was able to represent the Blue and White in Florida?
Responses on the topic have been less than forthcoming.
The day after the story broke, head football coach Joe Paterno held his annual spring press conference; the first question asked was about Phillips.
But all Paterno had to say was that he had no comment and that if the reporters continued asking questions on the issue, he would continue to "waste time" and answer, "No comment." Then he went into a long tirade about the high graduation rates on his team.
The same man who benches players for missing class is refusing to comment on why he allowed a player sanctioned for sexual assault to play in a bowl game.
Jeez, it almost makes you think that Paterno (and Spanier and Curley and others) were more concerned with the football team and Penn State’s image than they were about sexual abuse.