Penn State students, professors and alumni mourned Joe Paterno on Sunday and expressed hope that he would be remembered more for the good he did than for his downfall.
“Longtime Penn State fans like myself always thought this day would come, but by no means did we think it would be through these circumstances,” said Steve Wrath, a 1984 graduate who choked up as he spoke in front of Paterno’s statue outside the football stadium. Its base was decorated with scores of lit candles, flowers, T-shirts and blue-and-white pom-poms.
“It’s certainly sad. Joe has done so much for this university, community and the state of Pennsylvania,” he said, adding that the former football coach’s decades of leadership, integrity and public service would help counteract any tarnish caused by the arrest of one-time trusted assistant Jerry Sandusky.
Sandusky was arrested in November and faces charges he sexually abused 10 boys over a 15-year span, sometimes in the football building on the Penn State campus.
Paterno, who died at 85, was fired Nov. 9 by the Penn State trustees for not going to the police in 2002 when he was told that Sandusky had been seen molesting a boy inside the football complex. Pennsylvania’s state police commissioner said Paterno may have met his legal duty but failed to execute his moral responsibility.