Joe Paterno’s family has released a statement in response to the NCAA punishment of Penn State. Thankfully someone decided to stand up for a dead man who cannot stand up for himself. Paterno is being villainized by the Freeh report that contradicts findings by law enforcement, the grand jury and the courts. Paterno’s family and legal counsel have been denied access to the evidence mentioned in the Freeh report which in and of itself is unjust. The accused should be able to view the evidence against him and since Joe Pa is dead, his legal counsel and family should be given that opportunity.
If the evidence against Joe Paterno is what the Freeh report says it is, then the villainizing of Joe Pa is justified but, and this is a big but, the justice system has not presented any of this so-called evidence and it even has stated the exact opposite as truth. While no single man’s legacy should be upheld over the well-being of young boys, using Paterno as a scapegoat is wrong.
Paterno’s family also takes issue with the way Penn State has accepted the NCAA punishment of the school’s football program. There is a justice system in this country meant to deal with scum like Jerry Sandusky. Punishing the former football players by wiping out all their wins (not Sandusky’s wins and not Paterno’s wins but the players’ wins) is wrong. Punishing future students who want to attend the school based on its history or because they are related to alumni is wrong. The NCAA should have increased the fine and dictated that all monies earned as a result of any bowl game appearances for the next four or five years be given to charity to help victims of sexual abuse.
Hopefully the Paterno family and counsel will be given the chance to look into the evidence presented as part of the Freeh report soon. At that time not only can Paterno’s family come to terms with whatever their patriarch had to do with the scandal but if he was not involved they can clear his name once and for all. Maybe then some of this evidence will be released to the public so Joe Pa’s legacy can be determined by the rest of the world for themselves and not based on what a few people want the world to believe.