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Joe Paterno & the Ancien Regime

The Widow Paterno listens to advice of counsel

Absolute power corrupts absolutely:

The university’s full board of trustees was kept in the dark about the arrangement until November, when Mr. Sandusky was arrested and the contract arrangements, along with so much else at Penn State, were upended. Mr. Paterno was fired, two of the university’s top officials were indicted in connection with the scandal, and the trustees, who held Mr. Paterno’s financial fate in their hands, came under verbal assault from the coach’s angry supporters.

Board members who raised questions about whether the university ought to go forward with the payments were quickly shut down, according to two people with direct knowledge of the negotiations.

In the end, the board of trustees — bombarded with hate mail and threatened with a defamation lawsuit by Mr. Paterno’s family — gave the family virtually everything it wanted, with a package worth roughly $5.5 million. Documents show that the board even tossed in some extras that the family demanded, like the use of specialized hydrotherapy massage equipment for Mr. Paterno’s wife at the university’s Lasch Building, where Mr. Sandusky had molested a number of his victims.


The board did draw the line at the family’s request to use the university’s corporate jet, arguing that the contract limited that use to the coach himself. And it refused the family’s demand to retain use of the stadium box next to the university president’s, the one reserved for the head coach, offering the family the choice of two other suites on a different floor.

Royalty comes to expect privileges.

UPDATE: I was thinking more about this just now, while out mowing the lawn. I think Paterno is about on the same level of utterly clueless, privilege elite as Boston’s Cardinal Law. It is amazing to consider the degree of entitlement these men have, or had. Both achieved great things, without question, but both presided over, and helped bring about, grave damage in the lives of children, and the near-destruction of the reputation of the institutions over which they had been given charge. Knowing what they knew about their own fault in their separate catastrophes, they ought to have acknowledged their tragedy, and contritely accepted judgment. Neither did. Law’s story is well known. And now we know that Paterno, knowing that he allowed his former right-hand man to fellate children in the locker room, and knowing that the police were on the case, had the unmitigated gall (either himself or his family after he died) to demand use of a private jet, free access to the best skybox for a generation, and spa therapy for Madame Paterno.

Unbelievable, these people and their folly. They have no class, no noble spirit about them.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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