From Happy Valley to Philly: Reaction to Paterno

Penn State football coach Joe Paterno arrives home Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2011, in State College, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
November 9, 2011 9:51:07 PM PST
It is the end of an era.

"I immediately cried, we are a community. We are a family and just the fact he's leaving after 46 years, it really hurt me," senior Knesha Harper said.

"I think that's appropriate that JoePa is retiring; I think it's about the time for that," student Chad Sweeney said.

Joe Paterno's impact on Penn State is immeasurable.

He put the university on the map. He was a winner on the gridiron and off. He built men of character, but also built libraries.

His motto was success with honor, but his critics say he did not live up to that motto when he failed to report an alleged rape by one of his former coaches Jerry Sandusky.

"There were rumors this was going to be his last year anyway; it's sad that his retirement has a negative light on it," junior Brittany Baker said.

A mural on the University bookstore depicts popular figures of State College, but today its creator took one off, the most reviled man at Penn State - Sandusky.

The mother of one of the victims requested it.

"I'm very emotional about this because I've painted thousands of people and this is the first time I've ever painted someone off the mural," painter Michael Pilato. The question now remains will Paterno's legacy be erased as well.

"I definitely hope this is not how he is remembered. I hope he's remembered as a man of character," sophomore Marc Procopio said.

Until the Sandusky scandal exploded in Happy Valley, the prevailing notion was Joe Paterno's Nittany Lions program was squeaky clean, at least by NCAA Division One Standards.

But Alison Kiss, a nationally known campus victim's advocate of Security on Campus, Inc., says in recent years she has handled two alleged rape cases from Penn State. Both victims name football players as their attackers, but she claims cover-ups, not justice, was the result.

"I've had experiences with Penn State. I've worked with at least two victims of sexual assaults that involved Penn State football players in the past," Kiss said.

Kiss said concerning those cases she was not impressed with Paterno's response.

Congressman Pat Meehan wants a federal probe of this allegedly 15-yearlong tolerance of pedophilia right under the nose of the Penn State's power elite.

He claims they violated the Clery Act, the law that requires universities to report all crimes on campus.

"The failure is at every level. What you can clearly see is graphic reports given to highest level administrators. Now we're beginning to see some cover with other folks who are saying what they reported and what they didn't do," Meehan said.

Reaction varied Wednesday to Paterno's imminent departure.

"He had to have known what was going on and there's no way getting around that so he was wrong not following up on his reports," Garrison White of Valley Forge Military College said.

Regina Morris of West Philadelphia is a Penn State grad.

"I think that everyone who was conscious of it or aware of it, because it appears that some of it was reported, I think they all are part of the cover-up," Morris said.


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