The firing of Joe Paterno is a good first step for Penn State, but that has to be the start of something much more substantial. Besides getting their house in order (calming down students, finding out how many college officials knew about this case, etc.), their efforts to stop this disgraceful behavior from ever happening again have to continue long after the press and public stop rattling their cage.
Penn State has to take the lead here. It must set high standards for all employees, students, and teams. Something like Virtus must be initiated that will provide continuing education that allows all parties to recognize situations and individuals who may be predators. This effort must go beyond the firing of employees to putting the fire of knowledge and understanding into them. They have to be infused with the awareness that something like this can never, ever happen again, but if it does, that genuine protocols will be in place to handle the situation immediately.
A once mighty star has fallen at Penn State, and there will be those who do not get it and never will, but they cannot be allowed to dictate how this situation is handled. At this point Joe Paterno and his legacy mean nothing. He now becomes an enabler, someone who will not be remembered for winning games and anything else he has done. Now he is at best a bystander who was no innocent. He knew what was happening and did nothing substantial to stop it, like a captain of a ship who doesn't notify his passengers that it is going down.
Unfortunately, that puts him and Sandusky in the same sinking boat, and all the life preservers in the world cannot rescue them. Whoever joins them in that vessel (and there will no doubt be more revelations to come) is going down too. Drowning is a terrible way to die, but that is nothing compared to what Sandusky's victims had to endure and have to continue to live with for the rest of their lives. As Joe goes down after his last breath he will eventually be remembered not for what he has done but what he failed to do. That is a fitting legacy to be sure.
Photo Credits: Penn State students - AP; Joe Paterno - NY Daily News