Students Remember Joe Paterno

January 24, 2012 by staff 

Students Remember Joe Paterno, At Penn State Brandywine on Monday, students largely refuted the official cause of death for football icon Joe Paterno.

“He didn’t die of lung cancer. He died of a broken heart. Penn State was his life,” said Jordan Gillespie, secondary education major from Aston. “Penn State was broken, so he was broken.”

Paterno bore the reputation of a sainted figure at the university for almost a half-century. But that reputation became scarred forever by the child sex abuse scandal involving his one-time heir apparent, Jerry Sandusky, during the final months of his life. Paterno died Sunday at age 85. His death came just 65 days after he was diagnosed with lung cancer.

“Half the people, why they went to Penn State was because of Joe Paterno. Not for the education, not for the degrees, but because of his legacy,” said Gillespie, 18.

When the scandal broke in November, Paterno said he would retire following the 2011 season. He also said he was “absolutely devastated” by the abuse case.

But university trustees immediately fired Paterno. Graham Spanier, one of the longest-serving university presidents in the nation, also was fired. Paterno was notified by phone, not in person.

After weeks of escalating criticism by some former players and alumni about a lack of transparency, trustees last week said they fired Paterno in part because he failed a moral obligation to do more in reporting the 2002 allegation.

Freshman elementary education major Josh Mancini called Paterno’s ouster and death “shocking.”

“I grew up all my life and he was the coach, and everyone looked up to him,” said Mancini, of Aston. “When I go up to main campus in a couple of years, Paterno will not be there. I think it changes the atmosphere of the football games, the whole campus.

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