There is no such thing as a free lunch.

Unhappy Valley

Penn State is widely regarded as a top-tier public university, but it is probably most famous for its Division I football program. The program’s current coach, Joe Paterno, has held the job since 1966. In the 42 seasons under his leadership, Penn State football has finished in the AP Top 25 a remarkable 30 times, including 5 undefeated seasons and national championships in 1982 and 1986. At the same time, the program has been respected for maintaining high academic standards.

However, in recent years the team has struggled, enduring 4 losing seasons since 2000. Coach Paterno, now 81, has been under considerable pressure to retire and hand over the reigns to a capable successor. Despite the team’s recent struggles, there was never much attention paid to off-the-field issues, until now. A new investigative report from ESPN’s Outside the Lines series has shed light on the increasing rate of criminal charges filed against Penn State football players over the past 8 years. In the report, OTL insinuates that Paterno decided to recruit talented players with known character issues in the hopes of returning the program to past glory. Additionally, OTL says that Paterno and the University used the influence of the football program to secure favored treatment for athletes. Paterno denies the allegations and I have to side with him. He’s been a character guy for his entire career, and I can’t believe he would risk his reputation for a few more wins now. Also, the story is clearly one-sided – there is little comparison of Penn State to other football programs or a comparison to past years when the program was winning. But the report is still cause for concern. You be the judge.


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