In 2001, Mike McQueary, a graduate assistant coach, saw Jerry Sandusky in the showers of the Penn State Football locker rooms with a young boy. He was alarmed and told Head Coach, Joe Paterno, what he had seen. Joe reported it to his superiors, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz. A subsequent meeting was arranged for Mike McQueary to tell them what he had seen. When Joe heard no more about it, he presumed the matter had been handled appropriately.
Ten years later, a Grand Jury Investigation of Sandusky confirmed the event and subsequent reporting of it up the chain of command—from McQueary to Paterno to Curley and, presumably, on up. In November of that year, the Grand Jury leaked a “presentment” (a legal document meant to get an indictment for a trial—neither defense nor evidence could be included in the presentment.) This leaked “presentment” triggered a trial by media and subsequent misguided PSU actions to contain the scandal by firing Penn State President Graham Spanier and Joe Paterno. Then Penn State asked the former head of the FBI, Louis Freeh, to conduct an investigation. In July, 2012, Freeh issued his report which bunched four Penn State administrators as the perpetrators of the “cover up”—Spanier, Schultz, Curley and Paterno.
In Jay Paterno’s new book, Paterno Legacy, Enduring Lessons from the Life and Death of My Father, the Freeh Report is refuted in many of the points it makes. Hearsay and double hearsay is accepted as fact. Emails and notes were taken out of context. Freeh never interviewed McQueary, Curley, Schultz or Paterno—by the time they published their “report,” Paterno was dead.
If any doubt remained as to the culpability of Joe Paterno in the so-called “cover up,” his funeral and tributes by thousands of former players and fans should at least raise doubts. His son, Jay, has been on a mission to clear his name and has joined a lawsuit against the NCAA, a lawsuit brought by hundreds of former student-athletes, coaches, Penn State faculty and trustees. His book sets the record straight by showing the errors of his detractors and by revealing the character of Joe, who lived an honest life.
Enduring Lessons from the Life and Death of Joe Paterno
A review by Betsy Rider
Joe Paterno was the college coach whose team had won 409 games—a record in college football. A big part of his success came through his “pep” talks to the players before the game. His insistence that they were no longer “me,” they were “we.” “The will to win is important, but the will to prepare is vital.” “Take care of the little things and the big things will take care of themselves.” “Publicity is like poison. It’ll only hurt you if you swallow it.”
But Joe Paterno’s winning record on the field was only the tip of the iceberg. His insistence on academic achievement, his unending care for his players even off the field, and his demanding standards of excellence in every part of his team’s actions and appearance made the PSU players stand out.
In all his interactions with family, former players and friends, his message , “Make an impact,” was the mantra he shared. It was the advice he got from his father when Joe told him he wasn’t going to become a lawyer. His father supported his decision to become a coach, but he said he should be more than a coach. “Make an impact.” By example and by encouraging words, many, many of his former players and other PSU students went on to “make an impact.”
When players slipped and didn’t live up to Joe’s standards, he didn’t judge and/or condemn, he gave them a way to earn forgiveness. When they had problems, academic or otherwise, he stepped in and did what he could to help them out. When one of his student/athletes was deficient in reading skills, Joe took him home and got his wife to tutor him—that player went on to become a lawyer.
Jay Paterno’s book , Paterno Legacy, Enduring Lessons from the Life and Death of My Father is packed with the inspiring words and actions of his father. Jay will be guest author Friday (“First Friday”) September 5 from 5:30 to 7:30 at Otto’s, 107 W. 4th St. in Downtown Williamsport.
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