Penn State Nittany Lion Crying Tear (Not an Official PSU Logo)

Our Weeping Nittany Lion

Dear Joe,

In addition to others, especially the victims, I am praying for you and Sue.

You could not have stopped it, but you could have mitigated this catastrophe. Therefore, I want you to know, while I may not agree with the method, I must support the university’s  decision to let you go. As a Christian, I forgive you. Yet I also realize we must reestablish confidence and integrity in our great institution.

Please understand, although our paths only crossed for 5 minutes in person, you’ve been an inspiration, role model and teacher in my life. Barely a day has gone by since my days in Happy Valley that I don’t think of you. In fact, it is lessons you taught, that now obligate me to support those holding you accountable for failures under your watch:

  • You taught me character and integrity matter more than perception and achievement. You would bench players long before they failed to meet NCAA regulations. As a result, Nittany Lions stood for more than score boards and records. Win or lose, I was always proud of you, our team and our university.
  • You taught me the team matters more than the individual. With no names on the back of our jerseys, we are all Nittany Lions. There is no Sandusky, Curley, Schultz, Spanier or Paterno. There is only Penn State. We must ensure those baring our name will always represent us well. I may be named Lichtenwalner, but I am also a Nittany Lion.
  • You taught me We are… Penn State. We always do what is right, not only when it is easy. You stood for more than football. As students and alumni we all stand for more than our education. We must continue to hold each other accountable to the highest standards.

It pains me to see you removed from your position. Unfortunately though, you are human and conducted one colossal, ethical and potentially legal failure. That failure was simply not doing more than most would do. But you are JoePa, we are Penn State and we excel where others fail.

I’ve learned something from every leader in my life. From many I learned examples I wish to follow. From others I learned examples I hope to never replicate. From you, I learned both. You will always be the greatest football coach to me. I wish you could have remained the coach of highest integrity and character as well. You could have done more. We expect more. We are integrity and character. We are… Penn State.


Ben Lichtenwalner