Firing Joe Paterno was a just and appropriate way for Penn State to start to rebuild its tattered reputation. But ridding a great university of an 84-year-old man doesn't do anything to help solve the deeper societal problem at issue -- the plague of abuse.
As everyone knows, the real wrong in the Penn State scandal was done many years before there was a scandal at all. That was the alleged molestation of innocent children. So the real right needed is a gesture that can do something to help victims past, present and future. And that is simple: donate the gate for this Saturday's home game -- the last of Joe Paterno's last season -- to a shelter for victims of abuse.
Some students are leading a "Blue-Out," selling t-shirts to raise money for charity. Good for them. But that's not an institutional move. The only institutional moves have been to fire people. That's internal, not external. It does nothing to burst the self-sustaining but ultimately self-defeating bubble where Paterno has reigned for all these years.
Some have said Saturday's game should be canceled. But why penalize players? And for that matter, why punish student fans? They are, in a way, the future of the university. They will go out into the world and hopefully repair the image of a great school.
It's the old guard who should be punished. And there's no way to punish the old guard more than by hitting them in the wallet. There are only a precious few home games every season. So giving all the money from Saturday's home date would be a large percentage of profits from a season that will not be remembered for football.
The annual budget for a shelter is not that large. So this chunk of money would be not only a powerful statement of remorse, but also an effective way to make a difference in the community. It would make justly reluctant ticket-holders feel part of a solution. The world is watching; here's a chance to do something bold and brave.
Like him or hate him, Joe Paterno did a lot of good as Penn State head coach. He built. He gave. He taught. He graduated a lot of great kids. Now let's see Penn State show the world that the post-Paterno era will bring a new philanthropy. Let Penn State return to its roots as a place where teachable moments happen.
Let Saturday be the very first.
Follow Eric Adelson on Twitter @eric_adelson.
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