New Question: Should Joe Paterno Remain in the Hall of Fame?

The inevitable question is now surfacing:

Built into the by-laws of most sports Halls of Fame is something called a “character clause.”

It’s a loosely-defined metric meant to gauge whether a potential Hall of Famers’ off-the-field conduct should prevent an athlete or coach from being honored.

The rules use words like integrity, sportsmanship and community to determine whether a sportsman or woman can be inducted into the prestigious club.

But once that tribute is bestowed and a Hall of Famer made, can it be rescinded and undone?

“It would be unprecedented,” said Brad Horn, a spokesman for the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

Do sanctions alter Penn State legacy?

“I suppose they could,” added Rick Leddy of the body that governs the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.

That question is now being tossed around about the late Joe Paterno, a college football Hall of Famer since 2007.

Officials at the professional basketball, football, baseball and collegiate basketball and football Halls of Fame say it’s never happened before.

While governing-bodies may use the clause to keep out candidates, once inducted, a Hall of Famer’s status is historically safe.

But this week’s “unprecedented” NCAA sanctions against Penn State for its handling of a child sex abuse scandal threaten to shake that very bedrock and raise questions of whether Paterno will be removed from its ranks.

“The question is ‘What do you want your Hall (of Fame) to stand for?’ ” said Sports Illustrated’s Andy Staples, a college football writer.

“Is there a character component to it?”

This question is slightly similar the the question that has long raged about the antics of some celebrities who get huge salaries, perks and become role models for young people. Is all that matters the performance? The show? The film? Or is there a point where people who perform well but are poor or terrible role models due to other aspects of their life should not receive almost blind adulation and the financial rewards stemming from being famous?

In the Paterno case it becomes even more debate bait: if Paterno not just looked the other way but helped cover up the child rape occuring at Penn State via someone associated with his program, does it detract from his history from a Hall of Fame standpoint as one of the giants of his sport? And should it?

Prediction: Paterno will remain in the Hall of Fame. But if there is another high profile shocking incident involving a Hall of Famer, expect some to call for a more narrow definition of who can be in a Hall of Fame in the 21st century. Values do change; and so can criteria.

  

21 Comments

  1. Paterno Should most definitely remain in the Hall. He was a man of the highest character and if he fails the test, then there is no hope for any of us. The fact is, there is NO evidence that Paterno failed in his duties to report his second-hand information of a possible crime. None at all.

  2. “The rules use words like integrity, sportsmanship and community to determine whether a sportsman or woman can be inducted into the prestigious club.”

    Of course Paterno was very supportive of the community. It revolved around him and if you were in his community his standard was to be loyal to you as long as you were loyal to him. However if you were some poor kid who was raped by someone in Paterno’s community, then you were just SOL. Paterno stood by his community, for better or for worse.

    (Yes, that’s snark.)

  3. unless there are police reports filed for sexual intrusion on a child, with Joe Paterno as Complainant, over the VAST amount of time he had heard of Sandusky’s sick intercourse with children, there can be no Hall of anything. Those who love Joe can still love him. But the rest of the sports community nationwide shouldnt have to be saddled with ‘fame’ about a man who has become notorious for having sexual intrusions on the underaged DIRECTLY reported to Paterno via witnesses, with no record of Paterno ever even contacting let alone pursuing complaints re law enforcement/ police from Paterno’s high position as leader. He apparently did nothing to intervene for children’s sake. That’s not Sports’ Hall of Fame example by a long shot.

  4. “He was a man of the highest character”

    A man who knew that young boys were being raped and never did anything about it?

    Tell that to those boys (now young men) and to their loved ones.

    Unbelievable!!

  5. If the definition of character is what you do when no one is looking, then Paterno flunks big time.

    MeKub- You might read the report that Louis Freeh came up with that reveals that Sandusky almost certainly would have been stopped a lot sooner in his career as a pedophile had it not been for Joe’s forbearance. He turned a blind eye so that he could protect the program that he had dedicated his life to. Now that program is in shambles, its wins vacated, its heroes revealed to be gutless cowards. In trying to protect the football program Paterno and others crossed the line and now have destroyed it

  6. Hey they banned Pete Rose from Hall of Fame consideration, and it looks like there is NOT going to be rescinding that ban.

    The reverse should apply as well. A Hall of Famer, who does not met the character standards should be removed from Hall of Fame listing.

    Joe Paterno was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007, well into the Sandusky scandal. He knew, since 1998, what was going on and continued to put his beloved, cherished, damn-the-torpedos-full-speed-ahead football empire ahead of young men’s safety and well-being. It’s not like he didn’t know what was going on when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame, and there lies the rub! No matter what he and his team’s accomplishments were, he does not deserve Hall of Fame status, and this needs to happen for it to be understood that like the game of football, these things are ‘All-or-Nothing’ propositions. Everything Joe Paterno gained from his football program has got to be stripped from him and from the records for the message to get through.

    There’s an old saying in the South that goes, “A hundred ‘Atta Boys!’ can be undone by a single ‘Ah Shit!’” No case should this be more evident than in the case of Joe Paterno being removed from College Football’s Hall of Fame.

    It really is that simple!

  7. To my prior post I meant to say,

    Hey they banned Pete Rose from Hall of Fame consideration, and it looks like there is NOT going to be a rescinding that ban.

    Just needed to get the statement in context to the posting.

    Thanks!

  8. No, he should not remain in the Hall of Fame. It is becoming clear that he knew about and did not stop the awful and repeated crime from happening. If it is shown that he had nothing to do with it, then fine, he can remain. But it doesn’t appear that is the case, and I think anyone who would allow him to keep his laurels really has a bad imagination and needs to sit down and really imagine what those poor boys went through as a result of Paterno’s complicity.

  9. A factoid is a rumor that gets repeated so often that it becomes accepted as fact. That’s what we have here. A load of factoids with no evidence to back them up. We know of one single cage report he received in 2001. He reported it to his superiors as he was required to do by law. Based on the information he had, that was exactly the right thing to do.

    What about a cover up. Again, no evidence. Look past the narrative in the Freeh report and look at the facts placed into evidence. Freeh’s narrative is not supported by the facts presented. Louis Freeh has never been accused of careful handling of evidence or of objective assessment of evidence. In fact he is notorious for leaking half-truths supported by misinformation to influence trial-by-media. Wen Ho Lee and Richard Jewell.

    By order of the PA Atty General, Freeh did not interview Schultz, Curley, or McQueary. Neither did he interview anyone at Second Mile, nor obtain any of their documents or emails. Freeh’s report is based upon an incomplete record with assumptions an innuendo filling in the gaps.

    So far, it seems, the Hall of Fame folks are the only ones taking an appropriately measured approach. Hopefully they will wait for all the facts to emerge and then make a decision.

    The criminal is in prison where he belongs. No one is at risk. There is no need to make rash judgements. Wait for the facts.

  10. “Freeh’s narrative is not supported by the facts presented.”

    Would the commenter care to present the “facts” (with sources) that do not support specific statements of “Freeh’s narrative”?

  11. Certainly.

    Page 64, Key Findings of Penn State’s response to the 2001 allegation. Freeh report ver batim, “After the February 2001 incident, Sandusky engaged in improper conduct with at least two children in the Lasch Building. Those assaults may well have been prevented if Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley had taken additional actions to safeguard children on University facilities.” (Speculative)

    Page 66: Freeh Report ver batim, “McQueary testified… [he] saw Sandusky ‘directly behind’ the boy with his arms around the boy’s waist or midsection. The boy had his hands against the wall and the two were in a ‘very sexual position’ and ‘having some kind of intercourse with him’ although he ‘did not see insertion … ‘.

    Comment: Freeh report omitted relevant testimony: p 93 line 21 – p 95 line 8 of the transcript of Curley’s and Schultz’s preliminary hearing, McQueary testifies both the boy and Sandusky were standing upright, and the boy was about 1 foot shorter than Sandusky. It is impossible to imagine anal intercourse under those circumstances.

    P. 70. Monday Feb 12, 2001, Schultz’s notes from meeting with Curley. Freeh Report ver batim, “[a]greed will discuss w JVP & advise we think [Curley] should meet w JS on Friday. Unless he ‘confesses’ to having a problem, TMC will indicate we need to have DPW review the matter as an independent agency concerned w child welfare.”290

    P. 74. Freeh report, Exhibit 5g, email from Curley to Schultz and Spanier: “… After giving it more thought and talking it over with Joe yesterday—I am uncomfortable with what we agreed were the next steps… .”

    P. 75. Freeh Report, ver batim: “Several people told the Special Investigative Counsel that Curley is a State College native with a long family history at Penn State, including his father and brothers who worked at Penn State.338 A senior Penn State official referred to Curley as Paterno’s ‘errand boy.’339 Athletic Department staff said Paterno’s words carried a lot of weight with Curley, who would run big decisions by Paterno.340 Others interviewed described Curley as ‘loyal to a fault’ to University management and the chain of command, someone who followed instructions regardless of the consequences, and someone who avoided confrontation.341″

    ANALYSIS:
    “A senior Penn State official”, reference 339, identified only as:
    [?] Interview (4?12?12), thus one unnamed interview.
    “Others… described Curley as ‘loyal to a fault’ to University management and the chain of command.” reference 341 identified only as:
    [?] Interview (2?6?12); [?] Interview (4?25?12); [?] Interview (1?24?12); [?] Interview (1?3?12); [?] Interview (2?7?12); [?] Interview (1?23?12); [?] Interview (12?12?11), thus 7 unnamed interviews.

    If we assume the synthesis of these interviews is accurate, then Curley is “loyal to University management and to chain of command”. As Athletic Director, Curley was Paterno’s direct supervisor, therefore Curley would not necessarily act according to Paterno’s bidding despite “Paterno’s words” carrying a lot of weight, because Paterno was underneath him in the chain of command. Only one individual referred to Curley as “Paterno’s errand boy, whereas 7 people indicated Curley was loyal to chain of command.

    Comment Regarding Exhibit 5g: THERE IS NO INDICATION IN ANY EVIDENCE THAT PATERNO ORDERED OR SUGGESTED TO CURLEY TO NOT REPORT TO DPW. THE PREPONDERANCE OF EVIDENCE INDICATES CURLEY WOULD LISTEN TO SPANIER RATHER THAN PATERNO. THE MATTER IS LEFT TO THE READER TO CONCLUDE BASED UPON SYNTHESIS OF UNIDENTIFIED INTERVIEWS. IN FACT, SYNTHESIS OF UNDIDENTIFIED INTERVIEWS INDICATES CURLEY WOULD NOT NECESSARILY FOLLOW PATERNO’S RECOMMENDATION TO NOT REPORT EVEN IF PATERNO HAD DONE SO. THE NARATIVE CLEARY IS WRITTEN SPECIFICALLY TO STEER THE READER IN A CERTAIN DIRECTION: WHICH IS TO CONCLUDE THAT PATERNO ORDERED CURLEY TO NOT REPORT TO DPW. DESPITE THE SPECULATIVE NATURE OF THE CONCLUSION, NO OTHER ALTERNATIVES ARE OFFERED.

    P. 76 Also exhibit 5g, Schultz responds “Tim and Graham, this is a more humane and upfront way to handle this. I can support this approach, with the understanding that we will inform his organization, with or without his cooperation (I think that?s what Tim proposed). We can play it by ear to decide about the other organization.”

    P. 76 Freeh report ver batim: “The ‘other organization’ mentioned by Schultz APPEARS (emphasis added) to be a reference to the Department of Public Welfare.” (assumes facts not in evidence) “Again, at no time did Spanier, Schultz, Paterno or Curley try to identify the child in the shower or whether the child had suffered harm.” (Fallacy of logic: absence of proof is not proof of absence) “By advising Sandusky, rather than the authorities, that they knew about the February 9, 2001 assault, they exposed this victim to additional harm because only Sandusky knew the child victim’s identity at the time.” (speculative).

    P 77 Freeh report ver batim: “Paterno gave the following explanation to a reporter for the Washington Post as to why he did not more aggressively pursue the information that McQueary provided. “I didn’t know exactly how to handle it and I was afraid to do something that might jeopardize what the University procedure was. So I backed away and turned it over to some other people, people I thought would have a little more expertise than I did. It didn’t work out that way.” Paterno added, “In hindsight, I wish I had done more” and regretted that he had not.361

    Comment: “…and regretted that he had not.” is an embelishment. There was no statement to this effect reported from the interview. The embelishment was intended to indicate Paterno knew he was at fault. Paterno’s actual statement, “In hindsight…” was introspective, reflecting on what he knew then versus now, i.e., if I knew then what I know now.

  12. DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist
    DR. CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTÉS, Managing Editor of TMV, and Columnist

    You people are reporters, why haven’t you done your own independent fact checking?

  13. I may be wrong, but all the comments following the Freeh report’s statements appear to be your or someone else’s opinions. Where are the facts rebutting the Freeh report and the authoritative sources?

  14. MEKub:

    While I respect your opinions — and disagree with them — I hope that you will respect my opinion wherein I agree and concur with the exhaustive and comprehensive reputable Freeh Commission report on the Sandusky-Paterno scandal, rather than with your opinion and with those gathered from a variety of anonymous, questionable sources.

    I especially agree with this finding:

    “The most saddening finding by the Special Investigative Counsel is the total and consistent disregard by the most senior leaders at Penn State for the safety and welfare of Sandusky’s child victims.

    Four of the most powerful people at The Pennsylvania State University – President Graham B. Spanier, Senior Vice President?Finance and Business Gary C. Schultz, Athletic Director Timothy M. Curley and Head Football Coach Joseph V. Paterno – failed to protect against a child sexual predator harming children for over a decade.”

    Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan LLP was engaged by the Special Investigations Task Force on behalf of The Pennsylvania State University’s Board of Trustees to perform an independent, full and complete investigation of this most sordid affair.

    Absent my own talent, time or resources to perform any such fact-finding or “fact-checking” to anywhere near the extent and depth done by the Special Investigative Counsel and absent — thus far — any other convincing, authoritative evidence to the contrary, I accept the Commission’s findings.

    Feel free to criticize my naïveté and disagree with my opinions, but please do not question my motives or my professionalism.

    And, by the way, I am not a reporter.

  15. DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist: Yes, all the comments are mine pointing out the fallacies in Freeh’s conclusions. I never said I had facts to refute Freeh’s conclusions, I said Freeh’s conclusions are not supported by facts in evidence, and they aren’t.

  16. I respect your right to voice your opinion, and I respect you for the level of your discourse. But I do not respect your opinion regarding the scandal because it is wrong.

    The Freeh report is neither exhaustive nor comprehensive. Tim Curley, Gary Schultz, and Mike McQueary were not interviewed. There are no data in the report from anyone at the Second Mile.

    I don’t agree with your assertion that the Freeh report is reputable. Louis Freeh has a reputation of being less than honest in assembling and synthesizing evidence, and for deliberate leaks to foment trial by media. Richard Jewel, Wen Ho Lee, and most recently the FIFA debacle.

    You can agree with a finding, but if the finding has no basis in fact, then you are agreeing with a falsehood. One need do nothing more than to objectively consider the facts in evidence to determine if they support the claims made in the document. And they don’t. I’ve demonstrated that they don’t. If you don’t believe that I have, then show me where, in evidence, Paterno tells Curley et al to cover it up.

  17. If the evidence that Curley, Schultz, Paterno and Spanier failed to report a crime is so strong, why haven’t Curley, Schultz, and Spanier been charged? Why isn’t the word “alleged” ever used when referring to this possibility?

  18. if you want to initiate a debate of facts MEk, which you did initiate, it’s up to you to do your own research and present it. No one here is obliged to do your research for you as you seem to be demanding. Facts are what you claimed were missing, and you were asked what your facts were to support your claims. Not your comment or analyses. Facts to support your claims. It’s up to you.

    Also suggest you read the commenters’ rules. One of TMV’s rules is no highjacking threads by attacking or being uncivil to writers or commenters, and to keep to the topic of the post. There are other rules that keep the conversations/debates/teachings here civil. Abide by the rules and all will be well.
    Thanks/

  19. Dr. Clarissa, You have taken my posts and flipped them upside down! Where did I ever demand others do my research for me? Where did I claim facts were missing? Where did I go off topic or get uncivil? Your claims don’t make any sense! I said “the narrative is not supported by facts in evidence”. That means the facts don’t support what was said. It doesn’t mean “facts are missing”, it means what was said in and about the report is wrong.

    Now, I stated the narrative in the report is not supported by the facts, that it goes beyond the facts. I was challenged by Dorian to show where, and I did so. I realize you don’t like that I did so and my analysis is spot-on, but that’s not my problem.

  20. MEk, read your own comments. I really dont have time to remind you of what you demanded of writers here. Also, you were asked to provide facts. You provided what you yourself called “analysis” and “comment” from yourself. Sorry, but those are not supporting facts.

    This is not on topic and I will delete further comments that are not on topic as per our TMV rules. Read them, is my advice.

  21. For the last time: I stated the narrative is not supported by facts placed into evidence. Do you even know what that means? It does not appear that you do! Then, I was challenged to demonstrate how the facts do not support the narrative, and I did so. You can pretend I didn’t all you wish, but it doesn’t change the fact that I did. You should read it. It will educate you.

    This has been an incredible exchange of commentary. The manner in which you can take simple statements by one of your readers and twist them beyond all recognition, and then claim they are off topic, is astounding. Given that, I am not at all surprised that so many have gotten the story so wrong for so long.

    Good bye.

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