Today in sports: Joe Paterno's culpability in the Penn State sexual assault scandal, looking back at Magic Johnson's HIV announcement 20 years later, and a Wednesday deadline in the NBA labor talks.
- Penn State football coach Joe Paterno wasn't one of the school officials charged with covering up sexual abuse allegations against former Nittany Lions defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, but the nature of the 84-year old coach's response is drawing scrutiny and criticism from the press. At issue is Paterno's response in 2002 after a Penn State graduate assistant informed him he saw Sandusky assaulting an underage boy in the team's locker room. In a statement released yesterday, Paterno defended himself by noting he "referred the matter to university administrators." The problem, according to Yahoo Sports college football writer Dan Wetzel, is that that's all he did. "Legally Paterno wasn’t required to do more," writes Wetzel. "But since when has just doing enough been sufficient for a man such as Paterno? ... A true leader would’ve done everything he could to spur action and not been satisfied with [Penn State athletic director Tim] Curley’s decision to simply ban Sandusky from bringing young boys onto the Penn State campus." Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Bob Ford says the coach's future with the school isn't in doubt: "Joe Paterno is done." [Yahoo Sports and The Philadelphia Inquirer]
- It was 20 years ago that Los Angeles Lakers guard Magic Johnson held a press conference announcing he was retiring from the NBA after testing positive for HIV. In the world of sports, the news was a "Kennedy moment," writes ESPN NBA reporter Marc Stein, but looking back, the coverage is also a reminder of how reporting has changed in two decades. He notes that "the story of Magic's first positive HIV test had been kept quiet for nearly two weeks" and the only leak before the press conference was that Johnson was about to announce his retirement. Stein says that in retrospect "the closest thing to a break [Johnson] was catching here" was that his announcement came in the pre-cell phone camera, pre-Twitter sports world, which allowed him to have some control over how and when the news was released. [ESPN.com]
- The University of Missouri's move to the Southeastern Conference is official, but the school still hasn't reached a deal regarding the exit penalty it will have to pay for departing the Big 12. Various sources put the exact amount Missouri is on the hook for "as low as $14 million and as high as $30 million," according to The Kansas City Star. At his press conference yesterday, Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton stated that the school would be covering any and all penalty costs without any assistance from the SEC. [The Kansas City Star]
- The NBA has given its players an ultimatum in negotiations to end the league's work stoppage: accept the 50-50 revenue split currently being offered by owners by 5 p.m. Wednesday or the offer is coming off the table. It will be replaced by a less favorable "reset" offer that, according to The New York Times, "would cut the players’ share to 47 percent, roll back current contracts, impose a hard salary cap and reduce contract lengths." NBA commissioner David Stern issued the ultimatum in a letter that went out to players yesterday. The ticking clock didn't throw union attorney Jeffrey Kessler, who reiterated that the union won't sign off on any labor deal that doesn't guarantee "at least" 52.5 percent of basketball revenues go to the league's players. [The New York Times]
- Former heavyweight champion Joe Frazier is under hospice care in Philadelphia, where he's in the final stages of his battle against liver cancer. Frazier's manager tells the AP that the 67-year-old "sleeps for most the day but is coherent when awake" and hasn't allowed anyone outside his immediate family to see him, though he has received calls from former heavyweight champs Larry Holmes and Leon Spinks. Frazier was the first man to knock out Muhammad Ali and famously let their rivalry simmer well into retirement, joking in 1996 that "[i]t would have been a good thing [Ali] had lit the torch and fallen in" after the opening ceremony of the Atlanta Olympics. That didn't stop Ali from passing along his well-wishes in a statement. [The Philadelphia Inquirer]