Penn State's Board of Trustees has released a statement "explaining" their reasons for firing long-time football coach Joe Paterno in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky sex scandal. According to the Associated Press, the Trustees blamed a "failure of leadership" for their decision to terminate Paterno. The report went on to state that:
"The board found that while Paterno fulfilled a legal obligation to tell his superiors that an employee claimed Sandusky abused a young boy in a shower, it said Paterno should have done more.
''We determined that his decision to do his minimum legal duty and not to do more to follow up constituted a failure of leadership by Coach Paterno,'' the trustees wrote."
According to the report, the Trustees indicated that such an explanation was requested by the "Penn State community," which sought for the Trustees to "state clearly" their reasons for the firing.
Sadly, this "statement" does little more than belabor the obvious. As we all know, Paterno was fired, and, shortly thereafter, succumbed to cancer. Sandusky awaits his trial on child molestation charges. Why the Trustees were forced to explain their motivations now, while the school and community should be focusing on healing from the wounds ripped open by the scandal's sensational disclosure, bespeaks little more than the continued deifying, or, as I have previously written, the "Cult of Personality" of Joe Paterno at Penn State. It is a deification, however, that cannot continue in light of the reality of the situation. As has been discussed time and again, Paterno failed to fulfill his "moral" obligation when he was told of Sandusky's actions. The Trustees are completely correct - doing the "minimum" as set forth by law, especially for someone in Paterno's lofty status, was simply not acceptable.
Perhaps now the "community" which sought this all-too-obvious explanation will now turn its sights from the past to the future, on how to re-build a football program which has lost the person who was its guide, and, somewhat ironically, its moral compass for the past half-century. To continue to dwell on the reasons for his departure, especially in light of the untoward events which led to the Trustees' actions, is counter-productive to the University's interests and, more importantly, to the interests of that "community" as a whole.