When the Penn State Board of Trustees acted during the week, they decided to fire two people: head football coach Joe Paterno and president Graham Spanier.
There is one very simple reason for firing Joe Paterno: he did not respond well enough to a serious allegation brought to his attention by Mike McQueary in 2002. Most people should be able to agree with that, and if you believe that, it’s hard to disagree with firing him.
The firing of Spanier made slightly less sense. According to the grand jury presentment, Spanier was not involved in the meeting between McQueary and vice president Gary Schultz, and athletic director Tim Curley. Spanier was only involved when told of the actions Schultz and Curley were taking towards Jerry Sandusky in response to a “horsing around” incident in the shower.
Since perjury charges were brought towards Schultz and Curley, the grand jury believes those two were the ones who lied. And that’s where the Board of Trustees acted inconsistently.
If you’re going to fire people because you believe they did not properly respond to a serious allegation of sexual assault, then you have to fire nearly everyone involved. You fire Mike McQueary, you fire Joe Paterno, you fire Tim Curley, and you fire Gary Schultz.
But if you give them all the absolute best-case scenario benefit of the doubt (that the seriousness of Sandusky’s actions in the shower were not completely brought to their attention — yes, it’s a stretch, but a possibility), then wouldn’t you stand by them as the legal process unfolds?
As it is, Tim Curley is on administrative leave and the university will likely pay for his legal defense. If you’re going to stand by these men during the legal process, then shouldn’t you stand by all of them equally? Conversely, if you believe they did not do enough, then wouldn’t you fire them all equally?
It seems like the only reason Joe Paterno and president Graham Spanier were fired is because the media and public pressure was so intense, they had to act. That being the case, they were acting to protect the image of the school. They were not acting out of proper moral principles, which is sad, considering that protecting the school’s image could be the reason Sandusky was able to allegedly molest children for so many years.
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