Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk

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Penn State Owes a Public Apology to Paterno, Now not Later.

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | January 22, 2012

No. 791

The following post was written before the death of Joe Paterno had been publicly announced.

The way the Penn State Board fired Joe Paterno was cowardly and wrong.  They bowed to overwhelming pressure of a media-driven lynch mob.  Ultimately, in cooler times, Mr. Paterno will be vindicated before the law and in the court of public opinion. He did what every subordinate in an organization should do, he reported the information to the highest authorities in the University hierarchy, the ones who had the responsibility to make those decisions.  That group included the supervisor of  the University’s private police force.  In time, when the hysteria has dispersed, that truth will be generally recognized. But it appears that JoPa won’t be around to see that day, so it is imperative that Penn State apologize in person and in public now.  But if the craven leadership won’t do it, and they probably won’t, then the rest of us should.

I’m not a Penn Stater, but I once attended an alumni function where I learned something very important.  In response to one of the speakers the gathered alumni repeated a football cheer, but in a somewhat hushed and even reverential mode.  “We are,”  said the speaker, “Penn State,” responded the crowd.  After several repetitions, the room was silent while the meaning of those words sunk in.

We Pennsylvanians are all Penn Staters, whether we attended class there or not.  It is one of our state’s premier universities.  And Joe Paterno did as much as any one person could to make it a great institution of higher education.  If the school’s administration won’t do it, we must.  After all, we are Penn State.



CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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