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, where is your servant leader HUMILITY?
You said, “I wish you could have remained the coach of highest integrity and character as well….”
…In fact, it is lessons you taught, that now obligate me to support those holding you accountable for failures under your watch:
This sounds prideful. I see no sign of humility or “servant leadership here…no admission of your own human frailty and weakness. It comes off as verbose showmanship, a mere mellow-dramatic attempt to “write fancifully” to impress other readers, and self-serving to over-emphasize the failures of another…while trying to make yourself look good.”
Thank you, Don, for holding me accountable. My intent is to underscore my support for the university’s decision (though not the method) and the necessity of accountability. I believe clear accountability is a key component of servant leadership that is often overlooked.
My own human frailty and weaknesses are great – I could write volumes. I regret that my letter came across to the contrary. You’ve given me a good idea for a future post to transparently highlight lessons learned from my own failures. Thank you Don.
This had been going on for years at Penn State. Where were you? Huddled up at bible study? What did you do? YOU didn’t do enough. Saying a prayer won’t change things. Lay off your “christian crutch” and do something about it. You will never be half the man Paterno was, in this life or the next.
Okay, When this story broke the man said he was going to retire. As someone in education. Unless something has changed he followed protocol. He reported it to the people in charge. You and your university couldn’t let him finish out the season? Some support you are. You and your university are looking for a scapegoat because someone screwed up.. And because he reported it, you fire him. Give me a break.. You forgive him but yet agree. OMG really????? Get a grip.. He’s the fall guy… DUH!!!!!!
I actually do not agree with the method / timing the Board chose.
As a PSU and JoePa fan, I feel the same way. It truly is a sad way for his career to end, yet even sadder that other children had to suffer after he knew what had happened and did nothing. As a fan, I am sad; as a father – I am enraged!
Well put Hls1162. Just one important clarification – he did report what he heard. Unfortunately, that was all he did.
I disagree w/Nccoolchick, sounds more like He was using the scapegoat by hoping to retire at the end of season instead of what true justice would demand i.e., immediate dismissal. Sure he may have followed protocol but what about having a moral obligation to and compassion for— the victim!
I like the way Pete Wilson put it in his “Should Joe Go?” post, yesterday:
“Never forget that you have influence for one reason… to speak up for those who don’t.”
Hey Ben, solid post here. Not sure how I even found your site but it looks great – I should spend some time here later.
Regarding your thoughts, I appreciated that you did not villainize Joe. I tried to do the same in mine (among a few similarities we had which was validating to me). He was among those that could have done more and I felt that although he was not the reason for these abuses, he certainly could have done more to prevent them, especially on his turf, if you will. That’s part of leadership and I think we can all learn something here.
Thank you for the feedback and your own, balanced post. I agree, our sentiments are closely aligned.
Ben, I appreciate your thoughts. I feel as if so many have lost perspective of Joe’s age and how abuse was not really recognized then as we know it today. I am not saying it in ignorance but honesty, My 73 year old grandfather in 1988 would have never thought of such a thing or fathomed it, I am sorry to say that it has only been in the past 10-20 years that we truly have had any child advocacy. I do however think those in charge should have done more and the parents who knew should have done more. I think Joe was like my 73 year old grandpa. I do not think Joe compromised his integrity – I do not even think it was ignorance – I think it was actually innocence – really everyday people cant imagine a jerry sandusky even today in all we know let alone in 1988 at Joe’s age.
Just something to think about.Best wishes
I really appreciate your comments, Drchase. In fact, I made many similar comparisons to my own grandfather while reflecting on the matter. Your expression of “innocence” given the culture in which JoePa was raised most of his life was very poignant.
Yet, leaders must be aware of the current culture. As leaders, we must adapt to our surroundings. So while I respected the man, this is why I remain aligned with the position above.
At the same time, his passing since writing this saddened me deeply. Which is why I choose to learn from his lessons – mostly good – and reflect on all the positive he gave us.
My husband & I are Penn Staters. This has been so upsetting as I loved Joe Pa. Now that Joe Pa is gone & in light of the recent Freeh report, what are your thoughts?
I will always love what JoePa taught me about character, ethics and life. In many ways, this last chapter of his life taught me most of all. I feel sick for those poor boys and appreciate their courage to come forward. While I believe JoePa could have done more, I also believe because this is the last chapter in his life, it more deeply scars our memory of the man who was a great leader through all other chapters.
Unless you’re a siamese twin, you cannot be an “alumni”. You’re an alumnus!