November 29, 2020

Rick Reilly: Joe Paterno’s True Legacy

“That professor was right, all those years ago. I was engaging in hagiography. So was that school. So was that town. It was dangerous. Turns out it builds monsters.”

Read the rest of the article by Rick Reilly


  1. A lot has transpired since I posted my original piece on the (then) unfolding scandal at Penn State. As predicted, it has gotten a lot worse for the institution in general. With a host of lawsuits pending, I’m curious to see where the University goes next. The NCAA has spoken and whether you agree with the sanctions or not, phase 2 of the fallout is complete–the first phase was the public reaction to the scandal. The worst is not yet behind the university in terms of re-establishing trust and credibility. There are too many good people in Happy Valley to allow this sad chapter to define the school. Unfortunately it has sullied Coach Paterno’s legacy permanently. Strng leaders now need to step up and ensure the best lessons of this tragedy have been learned. The school must ease the sufferings of the victims of Jerry Sandusky first. From there they must incorporate the lessons of this tremendous failure in leadership into the formal and informal curriulla. Leadership is about action and not allowing problems to go on unchecked. Leadership is about personal accountability, up and down the chain-of-command. Finally, leadership is about transparency. The actions of all should be open to public scrutiny–particularly where the public trust is involved (this is the defining flagship sport at the state’s flagship institution). Nittany Lion football will eventually rise again. It may take a decade or more but it is inevitable. The prestige of the University may take longer to recover. The team must “win with honor.” A fairly straightforward, if not simple, task. Re-establishing the public trust and changing the perception of hollow rhetoric may take longer. When the students chant “We Are…” at all future games, there should be meaning in the response.

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