Let me preference this post with a few disclaimers. One, I am not a JoePa fan—I am not that much of a football fan to care that deeply. I’ve just heard of the guy over the years and impressed with his great achievements. But, I am an avid Penn State University (PSU) supporter. I LOVE the main campus and been there a few times on various field trips with my students, took my oldest daughter and a friend there (which resulted in her applying last year), and have taken home my share of ice cream from the infamous creamery. So me and PSU are “all good.”
By now, you have to be under a rock to not know that the infamous JoePa passed away today. It is amazing the differing perspectives that the media has about him. Over two months ago, his name was dragged through the mud and today I saw a 15 page spread in a newspaper about him and how great he was. You cannot hear about PSU without connecting JoePa. His face is on all types of advertisements; he has a statue on campus, tons of paraphernalia in the bookstores and is the “eighth world wonder” of Happy Valley and everywhere close to that part of Pennsylvania.
My father always taught me that the two of the most valuable things that a person possesses are his name and his credit (report). It takes a long time to build and only a moment to destroy. I believe that JoePa died from a broken heart because his legacy was destroyed—one he spent over 45 years building. It was destroyed because focus was not on the most important—the welfare of those young boys involved in the scandal. As folks involved in the field of education have a duty to follow it through to make sure that it gets to the proper channels and not just “pass on information to the proper person.” I am sure with the politics, career aspirations and job preservation looming over his head, it was easier to take the route that he did. What made him go that route? Who did he have in his inner circle that he was accountable to?
What a tragedy for it to be your LAST year and someone FIRES you—over the phone no less. You’ve helped build the brand of the institution and that’s how it goes down. You’re ready to retire and this lapse in judgment ripped away the opportunity to see the season to the end and the grand ride out in a blaze of glory. I am sure the stress weighed so heavily on him. I am sure he went back and forth with the “shoulda, woulda, coulda” but it was way too late. He publicly stated that he had regrets and wished he could have done more.I even heard on the news about a month ago that PSU would sell the rest of the JoePa paraphernalia they have and once it’s gone, it’s gone. They would no longer associate PSU material with his name. Wow! What a sad way to go. Just like that the legacy is gone—a mere whisper. I believe his good far outweighed the bad. It is my hope that after all is said and done with the scandal that his legacy is put back in tact for the sake of his family. Although I do not agree of the series of decisions made, I pray that his soul is at rest and that these now young men receive some justice for the horrors done to them.
Your name is your most important asset. Protect it at all costs–and do the right thing in doing so.