Walter Mencken 9:23 a.m., Oct. 10
One Columnist Wasn't Fooled by Paterno's, Penn State's Feigned Piety
The 919 Gang, a daily online newspaper going to more than 500 current and former U-T reporters and writers, has a fascinating report today (July 15) on Penn State and Joe Paterno. Tom Cushman, retired sports editor and columnist for the U-T, had spent 15 years reporting and columnizing on sports for the Philadelphia Daily News before arriving in San Diego in 1982. "I had enough interaction with Joe Paterno over the years to have long ago developed the sense that he was one of the major egos with which I came in contact during 43 years in the sports reporting business, that he could be ruthless in dealing with anyone who questioned his authority or his carefully-constructed image," wrote Cushman. "I probably am one of the few who are not surprised by what took place in the Sandusky situation....the stonewall conduct at Penn State and absence of any noticeable humanitarian instinct can be traced directly to Paterno. He pretty much ran the place."
Cushman related one incident. After star running back Tony Dorsett had had a great game playing for the University of Pittsburgh, Cushman and a handful of other reporters interviewed the Pitt hero. He revealed that after he had signed a commitment to play for Pitt, a Penn State recruiter asked him to change his mind. This request was not really kosher. Cushman ran the item on a Monday. He got a call from Penn State. Soon, Paterno was on the line. He asked, "why I would believe such a story from a college freshman. I told him I couldn't think of any reason why he would have manufactured that answer," wrote Cushman. Paterno said that the Penn State program was devoted to improving the image of college football in the East, and such negative stories undermined that goal. Cushman replied, "to my geographical knowledge Pitt [is] also in the East." Paterno hung up. Wrote Cushman to the 919ers, "There were other incidents. I'll go with that one."
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