The Philadelphia Personal Injury Law Blog

Joe Paterno Dies, Penn State Negligent in Keeping Him So Long?

Joe Paterno dies. Given his obvious failing health, one must ask whether Penn State University was in any way culpable for the Jerry Sandusky sex scandal given its decision to keep Paterno in such an important position for so long -- even as the man aged before our eyes.

In the last decade, Paterno's age and failing health became very noticeable as he spent as much time in the coaching booth as he did on the sidelines. Yet Paterno was still given full control over the Penn State football program and was warmly embraced as the "benevolent dictator," reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.

But as JoPa aged, and his capacities lessened, he was also known to become surly snarling, "It's nobody's business," to anyone asking a question he did not like, reports the Inquirer.

Given Paterno's failing health and age, at what point should the university have asked itself whether he was only allowed to stay because the Trustees were, it should be argued, afraid to make the difficult decision to push him out.

Perhaps as a result, Paterno did not have all bases covered, and allowed his former assistant coach to have free access to campus facilities when he knew (or should have known) that Sandusky was allegedly a danger to young children.

Joe Paterno dies and sadly, a part of his legacy may be the culpability he bears for allowing the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse. But JoePa was aging and in frail health, and the trustees at the university allowed him to remain at his position. Does the university then bear some legal responsibility for being afraid to make the unpopular decision, and allowing a football program to go unchecked as the greatest sports scandal of the past decade unfolded.

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