Brown Removes Paterno From Award, Alumni List, But Leaves ‘Legacy’ Page Calling Him ‘Leader,’ ‘Humanitarian’
Although he was best known for his Big Ten career, former Penn State coach Joe Paterno first made his name as an Ivy League star, playing football for Brown in the 1940’s. And while it was once an honor to call Paterno an alum, his alma mater has publicly renamed an athletics award that was given in his honor, is reviewing his membership in their Athletic Hall of Fame, and, less publicly, removed his name from a list of “Prominent Brown Alumni,” distancing themselves from their former star quarterback. Well, sort of.
The reasons for these changes are clear. In the wake of the Sandusky sex scandal, Paterno’s reputation has been severely tarnished, as it was determined that not only did he know his assistant coach had molesting young boys, he went out of his way to hide it. As Louis Freeh wrote in his independent report on Penn State released earlier this month:
“[Paterno] repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky’s child abuse from the authorities, the University’s Board of Trustees, the Penn State community, and the public at large.”
Doesn’t seem like the kind of guy that you want to be advertising on your website.
However, even after removing his name from their alumni list and taking his name off an athletic award, Brown has left up what seems to be a fairly substantial connection to Paterno: a webpage titled “The Paterno Legacy.”
Granted, it is obvious that the page is outdated: The site still lists him as “the leader in career wins by a major college coach,” which is no longer true following the NCAA’s decision to void all Penn State football victories from 1998-2011. Less obviously, the site refers to him as the “legendary Penn State football coach” and “a nationally renowned coach, educator, leader, philanthropist and humanitarian,” language that it seems unlikely would be currently used to describe him.
Especially not at Brown, who said last week:
“Joseph V. Paterno graduated from Brown in 1950, and has been honored over the years for his accomplishments as a student-athlete and his career in athletics. In light of the outcome of the Sandusky trial and the findings of the Freeh Report, the University has been reviewing these tributes to take appropriate action.”
This doesn’t seem like something Brown would just forget about or overlook. While they’re cleaning house of their Paterno connections, Brown, for some reason, decided to leave this one page up, proudly proclaiming Joe Paterno’s “legendary legacy,” both at Brown and Penn State. We’ve reached out to Brown’s athletics office for comment, and will let you know if we hear back.