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What Paterno Needs to Say

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The allegations against former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky have become the biggest story in sports this week, and the silence from Coach Joe Paterno has only fueled the firestorm of outrage.  With the cancellation of today’s regular press conference the pressure on Paterno and Penn State has only increased, to the point where his firing or resignation seem inevitable.  While he already released a statement over the weekend it fell short in both scope and contrition.  While no statement will make up for a decade of inaction from the coaches and administrators at Penn State we present the statement that Joe Paterno should have made directly to the press the moment the Grand Jury report came in.

I am saddened to have to come before you today to have to address these charges against my long time colleague.  As a football coach our main responsibility, before winning football games, is to take care of the young men who are placed under our direction. These allegations, if true, are a fundamental violation of that trust against the most vulnerable of victims and my heart goes out to them.

While I can not comment on any specifics of an ongoing case I want to make it clear that I have no tolerance for child abuse, and I reported the alleged crime to the administration as soon as I was informed of them.  As someone who had known and worked with Jerry Sandusky for over 30 years I did not want to believe the charges, but expected a full investigation by those I reported it to.  While at the time I felt I did what I needed to address this, I now see that I trusted the wrong people and should have used the full force of my position at Penn State to make sure that they followed up.

I love Penn State University and have dedicated my adult life to the school and the football program.  It is with that love that I announce my immediate resignation as Head Football Coach.  It is unfair for the young men on my team to have to face questions about this while they are trying to excel both on the field and in the classroom, and I hope the press will have the restraint not to question them about these horrible allegations.

I want to be clear on this, I am stepping down voluntarily to protect the young men on my team and the University.  I am not a victim in this situation, your sympathy should go out to the real victims in this case.

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