Joe Paterno

HAPPY VALLEY is sporting a constant frown these days. It is one that will not likely go away anytime soon.

That is what happens when a living legend is found not to be what his adoring public believes he is.

Joe Paterno is the winningest coach in Division I college football history. Until this past week, he was also one of the most — if not the most — respected man in the business.

A lot can change in a week’s time.

The beloved 84-year-old was Penn State, or very near to it. He was embraced for doing things the right way and teaching his players meaningful life-long values.

Paterno won, and won in above board fashion. His program never had to deal with NCAA investigators. JoePa was revered by all.

Such is no longer the case.

Paterno is now the former Penn State football coach. He was fired by the university’s board of trustees late Wednesday night.

JoePa was done in by the alleged misdeeds of one of his former assistants. Jerry Sandusky, Penn State’s longtime defensive genius under Paterno, has been charged with multi-counts of sexual abuse of young boys, dating back to 2002.

Paterno was made known of Sandusky’s transgressions by a graduate assistant. He passed the information to his athletic director as he should.

Unfortunately, that is where Paterno stopped.

JoePa did nothing else.

He still made the facilities available to Sandusky, even after the aide retired more than a decade ago. Moreover, Paterno did not notify law enforcement authorities when no action was taken against Sandusky.

Paterno cultivated a culture that buried its head in the sand in regard to possible heinous crimes. As a result, the coaching icon had to be dismissed immediately.

We commend the board of trustees for having the fortitude to make a most difficult decision.

Paterno’s termination has been met with varying reaction — disbelief, bitterness and even campus unrest. We believe Paterno received his just reward.

The real losers are the innocent victims abused in this sad saga. At least nine young boys were allegedly robbed of their innocence. They will forever be saddled with the scars of senseless and brutal acts.

Paterno cannot be forgiven for turning a blind eye to such atrocity.