Legendary college football coach Joe Paterno's 46th season at Penn State will be his last. The 84-year-old head coach of the Nittany Lions announced Wednesday that he will retire at the end of the season, felled by a sex-abuse scandal involving former defensive coach Jerry Sandusky. Sandusky is accused of sexually assaulting as many as nine boys over 15 years. Paterno was reportedly made aware of a specific incident involving a 10-year-old boy in 2002, but took the report no further than the school's athletic director (who is now being accused of perjury and failing to alert the police). "It is one of the great sorrows of my life," Paterno said in a statement Wednesday. "With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more." Though Paterno is not accused of any legal wrongdoing, the state police commissioner says the coach may be on the hook for a lapse of "moral responsibility." Penn State's board of trustees is reportedly still considering its options, including forcing Paterno to step down immediately. Should Paterno be allowed to stay until the end of the season?
To save Penn State, Paterno must go now: "Penn State needs to decide if their [priority is] winning football games or speaking out against child molesters," says Ronn Torossian at Business Insider. America is watching as students rally in front of Paterno's home, celebrating him as a hero because of his wins on the football field. But really, is football even "nearly as important" as the children whose lives were destroyed by Paterno's apparent negligence? Penn State's reputation, future alumni donations, and recruitment are all at stake. The only way to save them is to fire Paterno now.
"Say it ain't so, Joe: Penn State must fire Joe Paterno"
It would be "chaotic" if Paterno stayed: The end of the season isn't soon enough, says Dan Wetzel at Yahoo. Paterno needs to go now, before Saturday's game against Nebraska. "It's no longer about what is best for Paterno, but what is best for the university, its students, faculty, and alumni." If Paterno is still with the team this weekend, Saturday's game will be a circus. Fans won't be sure "whether to cheer or boo, whether to show up or stay home in protest, the entire event overwhelmed." As controversial as the immediate removal of Paterno would be, it would be in the best interest of Penn State.
"If parting with Paterno, do it now"
Let Paterno finish the season: Paterno has earned the right to coach a few more games, says Eric Bowman at Bleacher Report. Kicking him to the curb now "would ruin everything Paterno built up." He made Penn State into the nationally recognized program it is today. The next several weeks won't be easy, but if Paterno wants to suffer through that, "it's only right the school let him." He is a college football icon, "and he should be allowed to coach one last home game and bowl game for the Nittany Lions."
"Joe Paterno reportedly retiring at season's end is right move"
It's such a shame that this is now his legacy: "Paterno, of all people, was never supposed to go out like this," says Sean Gregory at TIME. Sports scandals are rarely shocking anymore. But one striking Paterno — who was "almost beyond reproach" — is an unexpected shame. Fans may never view the venerable coach in the same light again. "When we see Paterno coaching up in the press box" on Saturday, we won't be thinking about football. "We'll be thinking about all the alleged abuses" — the "unspeakable violation to innocent children."
"Should Joe Paterno survive Penn State's sex abuse scandal?"