Joe Paterno’s Name Off Big Ten Trophy

The Big Ten has decided that naming its championship trophy after a man who enabled the raping of multiple children is a bad idea.

The Big Ten has decided that naming its championship trophy after a man who enabled the raping of multiple children is a bad idea.

ESPN (“Joe Paterno’s name off Big Ten trophy“):

In light of the child sex-abuse scandal at Penn State, Joe Paterno’s name has been removed from the new Big Ten championship trophy, the conference announced Monday.

The Big Ten said that the crisis at Penn State, which led to Paterno’s firing as coach Wednesday night, prompted the decision to remove his name from the trophy. The new trophy, to be awarded Dec. 3 at the inaugural Big Ten football championship game at Indianapolis, had been named for both Paterno and former University of Chicago coach Amos Alonzo Stagg.

It will now be known only as the Stagg Championship Trophy.

“We believe that it would be inappropriate to keep Joe Paterno’s name on the trophy at this time,” Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said in a statment. “The trophy and its namesake are intended to be celebratory and aspirational, not controversial. We believe that it’s important to keep the focus on the players and the teams that will be competing in the inaugural championship game.”

To be safe, perhaps “Amos Alonzo Stagg Trophy” would be better than “Stagg Trophy” given the somewhat dated association between “stag” and pornography.

As Charles Pierce notes in a piece titled “The Brutal Truth About Penn State,” this story is far from over.

The crimes at Penn State are about the raping of children. That is all they are about. The crimes at Penn State are about the raping of children by Jerry Sandusky, and the possibility that people lied to a grand jury about the raping of children by Jerry Sandusky, and the likelihood that most of the people who had the authority at Penn State to stop the raping of children by Jerry Sandusky proved themselves to have the moral backbone of ribbon worms.

It no longer matters if there continues to be a football program at Penn State. It no longer even matters if there continues to be a university there at all. All of these considerations are trivial by comparison to what went on in and around the Penn State football program.

[…]

If that blights Joe Paterno’s declining years, that’s too bad. If that takes a chunk out of the endowment, hold a damn bake sale. If that means that Penn State spends some time being known as the university where a child got raped, that’s what happens when you’re a university where a child got raped. Any sympathy for this institution went down the drain in the shower room in the Lasch Building. There’s nothing that can happen to the university, or to the people sunk up to their eyeballs in this incredible moral quagmire, that’s worse than what happened to the children who got raped at Penn State.

Paterno had the power to put an end to the raping of children at least nine years ago and didn’t because it might somehow dampen his reputation. That his reputation is taking a hit is not too high a price to pay for that. Not by a long shot.

 

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Pierce make the same ridiculous argument as Will:

    Further, the institutions of college athletics exist primarily as unreality fueled by deceit. The unreality is that universities should be in the business of providing large spectacles of mass entertainment. The fundamental absurdity of that notion requires the promulgation of the various deceits necessary to carry it out. The “student-athlete,” just to name one. “Amateurism,” just to name another. Of course, people involved in Penn State football allegedly deceived people when it became plain that children had been raped within the program’s facilities by one of the program’s employees. It was simply one more lie to maintain the preposterously lucrative unreality of college athletics. And to think, the players at Ohio State became pariahs because of tattoos and memorabilia sales.

    That is, somehow college sports necessarily leads to covering up child rape. Both of these articles were about people who are opposed to college sports attempting to use the scandal to further an agenda that is only coincidentally related to the actual problem.

  2. James Joyner says:

    @Stormy Dragon: I’m both a huge fan of college football and aware of its flaws. There’s enormous incentive to break the rather arbitrary rules and my own school/team, Alabama, has done so both overtly and through uncontrollable third-party violations.

  3. Steve Verdon says:

    Paterno had the power to put an end to the raping of children at least nine years ago and didn’t because it might somehow dampen his reputation. That his reputation is taking a hit is not too high a price to pay for that. Not by a long shot.

    You know, if Paterno had done something back then, yeah he might have taken a hit to his reputation for awhile, but my guess is that later on he’d be remembered much better than he is going to be remembered now. If he came out and shined a light on these vile deeds and said, “No more.” then he’d be a good man. As it is he did the opposite and is just a selfish little man whose memory should be tossed in the rubbish bin.

    Good bye Joe Paterno, you wont be missed. Slink off stage now.

  4. They should name it the Hayes-Schembechler Trophy 😀

  5. @James Joyner:

    Here’s a question I’ve been wondering about – are there even any NCAA rules that might cover what happened at Penn State that could lead to sanctions?

  6. @Doug Mataconis:

    Well, looking at the bylaws:

    http://vmedia.rivals.com/uploads/878/957137.pdf

    It seems that 10.01.1, 2.1, and 10.1 could be applied together could be used to argue that Curley and Shulz’s actions are NCAA violations.

  7. @James Joyner:

    There’s enormous incentive to break the rather arbitrary rules and my own school/team, Alabama, has done so both overtly and through uncontrollable third-party violations.

    Yes, but that not what Pierce and Will are arguing. They’re arguing that unless we get rid of collegiate atheletics, institutionalized baby raping is the inevitable end state.

  8. James Joyner says:

    @Stormy Dragon: I don’t see that argument being made. Rather, Pierce is arguing that the pressure cooked environment of college athletics–but no moreso than that of a Fortune 500 company–makes moral courage difficult. That’s probably true. He also argues that there’s no rational reason for colleges to offer entertainment for the masses. That’s almost certainly true.

    Will seems to be making the same argument.

    I don’t see any viable alternative, alas. They became hyper competitive and spawned cheating and other scandals from nearly the outset. The massive money is a creature of the last 25-30 years and TV deals. But there’s too much tradition associated with big name athletics now to disassociate them from the schools.

    I’m not sure what argument by Will you’re referring to.

  9. 11B40 says:

    Greetings:

    Maybe they should do the whole Joe Stalin thing and start taking Coach Paterno’s pictures out of the years and years of yearbooks?

  10. A voice from another precinct says:

    Anybody interested in why the University of Chicago doesn’t have a football team anymore eventhough Amos Alonzo Stagg was the most famous coach from there ever? It’s an interesting story–you guys should investigate it and then come back to Penn State’s problem.

  11. Oz Gehlen says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Doug, it’s not for nothing that the NCAA has no rule that covers the violation of law or of moral code.

    The current rulebook is 450 pages long. It begins by outlining the nine purposes of the Association. Not a single one of those purposes is to follow the law.

    The closest it comes (in section 2.3.1) is to mandate the responsibility of each member institution to comply with federal and state laws regarding gender equity.

    There is nothing within the rules that makes it clear to football coaches that it is a violation to rape young boys in the football locker room showers.

    For those who are interested, here is the link to the current NCAA Division 1 rulebook. (Note: This is a PDF file.)

  12. Franklin says:

    It no longer matters if there continues to be a football program at Penn State. It no longer even matters if there continues to be a university there at all. All of these considerations are trivial by comparison to what went on in and around the Penn State football program.

    Sorry, but this writer needs to get a grip. At some point, I’m pretty sure the good things that a university does, from education to research (perhaps medical research that saves hundreds or thousands of lives) outweighs the rapes of a few children (not that I would want to have to make that trade).

    I’m just sick of hyperbole and the overblown armchair reactions to this case, much of which is based on misinformation. Just this morning news started leaking that McQueary actually *did* stop the rape. May or may not be true, but can we just gather some goddamn facts before riding around on our high horses?

  13. @A voice from another precinct:

    Anybody interested in why the University of Chicago doesn’t have a football team anymore eventhough Amos Alonzo Stagg was the most famous coach from there ever? It’s an interesting story–you guys should investigate it and then come back to Penn State’s problem.

    http://athletics.uchicago.edu/football/fb.htm

  14. matt b says:

    @Stormy Dragon:
    As a U of Chicago grad (and currently attending an Ivy League School with a Football Team), I can comfortably say that fielding a football team is entirely different than having a football “program.”

    U of C helped start Div I college athletics and then cut their programs. When the football team was brought back in 1969, they downgraded to Div III and has remained thee ever since.
    http://www.uchicago.edu/features/20091019_football40/

    Of course the U of C has used the excuse of maintaining academic standards to do a lot of things, including driving Jazz Clubs, Bars, (and lower class residents) out of Hyde Park.

  15. @matt b:

    That may be, but the original claim was that they have no football team, which is clearly not the case.