Penn State scandal: Joe Paterno’s name removed from Big Ten trophy; Obama weighs in

November 14, 2011

Joe Paterno’s name will be removed from the Big Ten championship trophy in the latest fallout from the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal at Penn State. As Cindy Boren reported :

The name of Joe Paterno, who was fired as Penn State coach last week in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal, will be removed from the Big Ten Conference championship trophy.

The trophy, given to the winner of the first conference title game Dec. 3, was to have been called the Stagg-Paterno Trophy in honor of Paterno, major college football’s winningest coach, and Stagg, who coached the University of Chicago when it was a founding member of the conference. It will now be the Stagg Championship Trophy, although the two men are tied for the most NCAA games coached at 549.

“We believe that it would be inappropriate to keep Joe Paterno's name on the trophy at this time,” Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said in a statement. “The trophy and its namesake are intended to be celebratory and aspirational, not controversial. We believe that it's important to keep the focus on the players and the teams that will be competing in the inaugural championship game.”

The president of Second Mile, the charity founded by Jerry Sandusky , announced his resignation on Monday. He is the latest official to step down as a result of the scandal. As Cindy Boren explained:

The president of The Second Mile, the charity founded by the man who is at the heart of the child sex-abuse scandal that has rocked Penn State, has resigned. In addition, the judge who ordered him freed on $100,000 unsecured bond reportedly has been a volunteer for the charity.

The resignation of Dr. Jack Raykovitz, for 28 years chief executive officer of the foundation created by Jerry Sandusky, was accepted by the board of directors Sunday. Sandusky met his alleged victims through the organization, which was created to assist at-risk children.

“Although the allegations against Jerry Sandusky and the alleged incidents occurred outside Second Mile programs and events, this does not change the fact that the alleged sexual abuse involved Second Mile program children, nor does it lessen the terrible impact of sexual abuse on its victims,” the organization said in a statement.

Raykovitz, a psychologist, had testified before the grand jury that indicted Sandusky and the board added that it would conduct an internal investigation of its policies.

Sandusky, who retired as Penn State’s defensive coordinator in 1997, founded the organization in 1977. In 2008, according to foundation’s statement, “Mr. Sandusky informed The Second Mile that he had learned he was being investigated as a result of allegations made against him by an adolescent male in Clinton County, Pa. Although he maintained there was no truth to the claims, we are an organization committed first and foremost to the safety and well-being of the children we serve.”

Penn State’s game against Nebraska on Saturday was closely watched, as many tuned in to see whether the community would rally behind their former coach in the face of the Sandusky scandal. As John Feinstein wrote, Paterno shouldn’t be seen as a victim:

A lot of words were spilled Saturday describing the pregame scene at Beaver Stadium in the place once known as Happy Valley. As the players from Penn State and Nebraska knelt together at midfield for a lengthy prayer, one word jumped to mind above all the others: surreal.

The whole scene, the whole day and the entire week were surreal.

After Nebraska had beaten Penn State, 17-14, Saturday afternoon in what once would have been described as an important football game, Tom Bradley, who will hold the title of interim football coach until Penn State’s nightmare season is finally over, said that he hoped the healing for all involved in the ongoing tragedy had begun. Maybe.

To heal, one has to acknowledge that he or she is injured or sick. One has to seek help of some kind and then go through a rehabilitation process. No doubt some — perhaps many or even most — at Penn State are doing just that. But until all of those who lead the school and those who are part of the school understand that nothing was done to them, healing will be very difficult.

Joe Paterno is neither a victim nor a scapegoat — as some have suggested — in any of this. He was, and is, very much a part of it. Everyone knows the names and roles of the other major players in a tragedy that has been unfolding at least since 1998, in all likelihood since well before that.

There are those who argue that Paterno and assistant coach Mike McQueary are being treated as if they are somehow more villainous than Jerry Sandusky, the ex-Penn State assistant who is charged with crimes so monstrous that just reading the charges as described in the grand jury indictment is sickening.

Sandusky is the person who set all of this in motion, of that there is no doubt. If he is guilty, there is almost no penalty he can pay that fits his crimes. But there is also little doubting that for years he was enabled by a number of people at Penn State — Paterno clearly being the most important of them, even though he may not be legally liable.

Because Paterno was such an iconic figure, there will always be those who see him as some kind of victim in all this. But as the week went on there appeared to be more and more recognition of the fact that for some actions — or inactions — there are no excuses to be found, only apologies to be made.

More from The Washington Post

‘Saturday Night Live’ weighs in on the Penn State scandal

On Parenting: Most of us look away from abuse

Guest Voices: Penn State, my final loss of faith

Chat: Why the era of iconic coaches is over

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