The minute you think you’ve got it made, disaster is just around the corner. — JVP
On November 9th, 2011, the unthinkable happened. After devoting 61 years of his life to Penn State, Joe Paterno was fired. Earlier that day, he had offered his resignation but the Trustees chose instead to end his distinguished career with a late night telephone call.
After 61 years, he deserved better. — Sue Paterno
Many of us will never forget where we were and how we felt when we heard the news. Coach Paterno had always been there for us whether we knew him personally or knew him only through his words and actions. From him, we learned how to be humble in victory and gracious in defeat. What could we do now when it seemed the whole world was rushing to a judgement that we knew in our hearts could not be true?
Publicity is like poison; it doesn’t hurt unless you swallow it. — JVP
Had this happened just a few years ago, we would have been helpless as a tsunami of mass media hysteria flooded the 24-hour news cycle. With ESPN leading the charge, Fox News, CNN, USA Today, The New York Times, and every talk show host in the country piled on, eager to pull down the legendary proponent of Success with Honor to their own level. The alleged actions of a former assistant coach had become the Penn State/Joe Paterno Scandal. The summary firing of JoePa had confirmed for many his presumed guilt. Even some who should have known better abandoned their former coach or colleague out of fear for their own reputations.
Losing a game is heartbreaking. Losing your sense of excellence or worth is a tragedy. — JVP
But Joe handled adversity as he always had. He simply told the truth. Even when his health failed, his faith in his God, his family, and in the Penn State community that he loved remained unshaken. His true friends began to stand up and speak out.
Sue, Jay and Scott were rocks. And then, when Joe finally lost his last battle, the amazing Memorial Service showed the world that a lifetime spent helping so many would not go unacknowledged.
Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for? — Robert Browning
In the meantime, a small group of heartbroken but determined Penn Staters started to connect on the Internet. Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship (PS4RS) made a simple pledge on a Facebook page: WE intend to vote out the Board of Trustees. While the University was spending millions of dollars trying to manage a crises they had in large part created, resorting to spin and distortions, excuses and justifications, PS4RS provided a free forum for honest discussion. When the Trustees were overwhelmed with an avalanche of nominees for the three alumni seats up for election, PS4RS organized and ran a fair and open primary to select the three strongest candidates. As the Trustees lurched from one overpaid consultant to another, PS4RS relied on the talent of committed alumni and friends who freely offered their professional services. And gradually, one person to person contact at a time, the tide was turned.
When a team outgrows individual performance and learns team confidence, excellence becomes a reality. — JVP
By the Blue White Weekend it was obvious, even to the Trustees, that PS4RS had become a force that represented a vast majority of true Penn Staters. The election confirmed that, when a record turnout produced over 100,000 votes and all but 1,800 were a mandate for a new direction in governance. The insular club that the Board had become will no longer be tolerated. We, the University’s stakeholders, will continue to demand from OUR representatives access, responsiveness, competence, and transparency.
Believe deep down in your heart that you’re destined to do great things. — JVP
In just a few short months PS4RS has grown to an active online community of more than 5,000. We have helped change the headlines from Penn State scandal to Sandusky scandal. We have helped to restore JoePa’s legacy. And we have shown the world that Penn State Pride runs deep and strong. It’s a good beginning but it is just the beginning. We will continue to grow and we will join with others who share our commitment to building an even greater University on the solid foundation Coach Paterno bequeathed to us.
They ask me what I’d like written about me when I’m gone.
I hope they write I made Penn State a better place, Not just that I was a good football coach. — JVP
Okay, Coach, here goes:
You weren’t just a good football coach.
You were the best ever. And you didn’t just make Penn State a better place. You made every one of us a better person.
WE ARE because you were. And we will never forget.