Should Paterno Be Honored?

On September 16, 2016, Penn State honored one of the most famous college coaches in the nation during the half time show. It was the 50th anniversary of Coach Joe Paterno who started his coaching debut in 1966 for the Nittany lions. In that 50 year time span, Paterno racked up some very impressive awards and accomplishments.

Joe Paterno holds an official NCAA total of 18 bowl victories. He holds the NCAA record for total bowl appearances with 37. He had 34 before the NCAA sanctions, and he had a bowl record of 24 wins, 12 losses, and 1 tie following a defeat in the 2011 Outback Bowl. Paterno was the first coach with the distinction of having won each of the four major bowls—Rose, Orange, Fiesta, and Sugar—as well as the Cotton Bowl Classic, at least once. Including the 2012 NCAA sanctions, Penn State won at least three bowl games in each of the three decades between 1970 and 1997.

As far as legacies go, Paterno‘s is as big as they come. He coached for over 40 years and won over 400 games. This makes him the most winningest head coach in the history of the game. Paterno’s ideas of what kind of athletes he wanted on his team will also stand the test of time. Paterno wanted to recruit athletes that could also do just as well in the classroom as they did on the field. This idea helped many of his student athletes get there degrees and created a legacy for Penn State that didn’t just rest on football. Paterno’s ideas were recognized by the NCAA and they also put importance on athletes getting good grades and graduating. The NCAA started making grade requirements for athletes to compete in sports.

With all the good that Paterno did, there is still a huge blemish on his career from his involvement in the Sandusky sex scandal. Paterno’s long time defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was sentenced to over 50 years in prison for molesting young boys that he got access to through his charity “Second Mile” that was created to help underprivileged youth. Paterno was made aware of the incident, but not only did he not tell authorities, he was also accused of trying to cover it up. It is said that he knew about the scandal as early as 1976. He was fired from his coaching position in 2011 when the scandal was revealed and charges on Sandusky were posted.

Should Penn State honor a man who would cover up something as serious as this? Does the scandal erase Paterno’s his legacy he left as a coach? Former alumni believe that he is the best thing to ever happen to Penn State, and they acknowledge how he made them a football and academic powerhouse. The fans at Saturday’s game chanted Paterno’s name as the video honoring his 50th anniversary was played, but there are others who believe that he should not be honored at all. Many students wore shirts that stated “He Knew” in protest of his honoring.

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