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Learning from Joe Paterno’s Leadership Failure, Joe Paterno Dead, Paterno Dead at 85

Coach Joe Paterno was laid to rest this week. He’s clearly loved. 10,000 tickets were reserved for his memorial service in seven minutes. His accomplishments on behalf of Penn State, college football, and his football players are indisputable.

Two failures:

Paterno’s failures are delay and lack of follow through.

His own words:

Joe Paterno should have done more when Mike McQueary told him of a sexual encounter between Jerry Sandusky and a young boy in a Penn State locker room. He said so himself.

“In hindsight, I wish that I had done more.” Joe Paterno

I wish:

I wish Joe had let his simple heartfelt statement stand. But he didn’t. In an interview with the Washington Post …

Joe later added:

“I didn’t know exactly how to handle it and I was afraid to do something that might jeopardize what the university procedure was. So I backed away and turned it over to some other people, people I thought would have a little more expertise than I did. It didn’t work out that way.”

Joe went on to say:

“So I sat around. It was a Saturday. Waited till Sunday because I wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing. And then I called my superiors… I had never had to deal with something like that. And I didn’t feel adequate.”

Leadership lessons:

Leaders get in over their heads. Expect it.
Say what you know even if you don’t know what to do.
Say what you know privately. Avoid hysteria and grandstanding.
Follow through, privately.
Follow through persistently.
Leaders take responsibility without excuses.
I believe Joe when he says, “I was afraid,” and “I didn’t feel adequate.” But, I don’t need to hear it.

“I wish I had done more,” is enough. Joe said more when he said less.

Fired Penn State coach Joe Paterno dead at age of 85

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) —Joe Paterno Other than family, football was everything to Joe Paterno. It was his lifeblood. It kept him pumped.
Life could not be the same without it.
"Right now, I'm not the c+oach. And I've got to get used to that," Paterno said after the Penn State Board of Trustees fired him at the height of a child sex abuse scandal.
Before he could, he ran out of time.
Paterno, a sainted figure at Penn State for almost half a century but scarred forever by the scandal involving his one-time heir apparent, died Sunday at age 85.
His death came just 65 days after his son Scott said his father had been diagnosed with lung cancer. Mount Nittany Medical Center said he died at 9:25 a.m. of "metastatic small cell carcinoma of the lung," an aggressive cancer that has spread from one part of the body to an unrelated area.

JOE Paterno

Friends and former colleagues believe there were other factors — the kind that wouldn't appear on a death certificate.
"You can die of heartbreak. I'm sure Joe had some heartbreak, too," said 82-year-old Bobby Bowden, the former Florida State coach who retired two years ago after 34 seasons in Tallahassee.
Longtime Nebraska coach Tom Osborne said he suspected "the emotional turmoil of the last few weeks might have played into it."
And Mickey Shuler, who played tight end for Paterno from 1975 to 1977, held his alma mater accountable.
"I don't think that the Penn State that he helped us to become and all the principles and values and things that he taught were carried out in the handling of his situation," he said.

Paterno's death just under three months following his last victory called to mind another coaching great, Alabama's Paul "Bear" Bryant, who died less than a month after retiring.
"Quit coaching?" Bryant said late in his career. "I'd croak in a week."
Paterno alluded to the remark made by his friend and rival, saying in 2003: "There isn't anything in my life anymore except my family and my football. I think about it all the time."
The winningest coach in major college football, Paterno roamed the Penn State sidelines for 46 seasons, his thick-rimmed glasses, windbreaker and jet-black sneakers as familiar as the Nittany Lions' blue and white uniforms.
His devotion to what he called "Success with Honor" made Paterno's fall all the more startling.
Happy Valley seemed perfect for him, a place where "JoePa" knew best, where he not only won more football games than any other major college coach, but won them the right way. With Paterno, character came first, championships second, academics before athletics. He insisted that on-field success not come at the expense of graduation rates.
But in the middle of his final season, the legend was shattered. Paterno was engulfed in a child sex abuse scandal when a former trusted assistant, Jerry Sandusky, was accused of molesting 10 boys over a 15-year span, sometimes in the football building.
Outrage built quickly after the state's top law enforcement official said the coach hadn't fulfilled a moral obligation to go to authorities when a graduate assistant, Mike McQueary, reported seeing Sandusky with a young boy in the showers of the football complex in 2002.
McQueary said that he had seen Sandusky attacking the child with his hands around the boy's waist but said he wasn't 100 percent sure it was intercourse. McQueary described Paterno as shocked and saddened and said the coach told him he had "done the right thing" by reporting the encounter.
Paterno waited a day before alerting school officials and never went to the police.
"I didn't know which way to go ... and rather than get in there and make a mistake," Paterno told The Washington Post in an interview nine days before his death.
"You know, (McQueary) didn't want to get specific," Paterno said. "And to be frank with you I don't know that it would have done any good, because I never heard of, of, rape and a man. So I just did what I thought was best. I talked to people that I thought would be, if there was a problem, that would be following up on it."
When the scandal broke in November, Paterno said he would retire following the 2011 season. He also said he was "absolutely devastated" by the abuse case.
"This is a tragedy," he said. "It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more."
But the university trustees fired Paterno, effective immediately. Graham Spanier, one of the longest-serving university presidents in the nation, also was fired.

Joe paterno ...