David Joyner’s First News Conference
“My mission here has begun,” said Joyner ’72, ’76g. “I’m gonna align our core values in intercollegiate athletics with the rest of the academic units. We have a noble purpose here at the University, and it doesn’t just stop in the classroom. It continues onto the athletic fields, which in my opinion are just another classroom where young people learn to be successful.
“Given that, I consider myself the dean of the ‘College of Intercollegiate Athletics.’”
At that point, he said he’d take questions, which was about the only moment of the morning that was typical.
The news conference was held in cavernous Schwab Auditorium, with ushers checking ID at the door and smooth jazz playing at a high volume before and after Joyner spoke. Field hockey coach Char Morett ’79 H&HD introduced Joyner ’72, ’76g reading his bio and ending by noting that she had known him for 25 years, through their Penn State and Olympic connections. (Joyner, an orthopedic surgeon, has been active in the United States Olympic Committee.) Only a handful of the regulars who cover Penn State football and athletics attended; the rest were on their way to Columbus for Saturday’s football game. (And there was no telephone hookup, so they could not call in to ask questions.)
So most of the questions were asked by national media, many of them investigative reporters. They were not interested in the day-to-day operation of the athletic department. CBS’s Armen Keteyian—he of the overhyped 30-second “interview” Tuesday with Mike McQueary ’97 H&HD—immediately set the tone with his first three questions.
The first two were about the Board of Trustees; Joyner has been a trustee since 2000, although he suspended his involvement to take this job. Keteyian wanted to know if the trustees had been informed about investigations into the alleged sexual assaults by Jerry Sandusky. Joyner said he hadn’t known anything until the March 31 story in The Patriot-News, and that he didn’t learn the specifics until Nov. 5, when the grand jury presentment was released.
Keteyian’s follow-up: Why wasn’t the board informed? Joyner said he didn’t know.
And the third question: Given Joyner’s extensive ties with Penn State—he played football and wrestled here, received his undergraduate and medical degrees here, and has spent 11 years as a trustee—how can he change what some critics have called a “culture of denial” at the University?
“First of all, it’s hard to find someone that wasn’t educated at Penn State, at least in this community,” Joyner said. “Yes, I’ve been affiliated with the University for many years. That doesn’t affect me. People that know me—my mantra is ‘Do the right thing every time,’ and they will learn that about us. No matter what they say about me being an insider, as you see what I do and watch how this university behaves, you will know and appreciate that I am about doing the right thing.”
Joyner did field a few football questions. He said he’ll be the person who hires a head football coach, although he said there is no specific timetable. He fielded a lot more questions about how the trustees and the University have handled the situation. And several times, he said he was thinking of himself as the intercollegiate athletics dean.
It’s an interesting phrase. Ernie McCoy—who was athletic director and dean of the School of Physical Education from 1952–70, was known as Dean McCoy. (He is the man who hired Joe Paterno, and the natatorium is named for him.) McCoy arrived just as Penn State, which had eliminated athletic scholarships in the 1930s, had decided to beef up its commitment to athletics—football especially. He came from Michigan, where, according to Michael Bezilla’s comprehensive history of Penn State, “Administrators controlled athletics, the coaching staff held academic rank, and student athletic aid was aboveboard and subordinate to academic regulations.” Bezilla wrote that McCoy required coaches to speak with high school guidance counselors before they talked to the coaches of potential recruits.
The four athletic directors since McCoy—Ed Czekaj ’48, ’54g, Paterno, Jim Tarman, and Tim Curley ’76, ’78g—have held only the title of athletic director.
Someone asked Joyner if his emphasis on aligning athletics with the rest of the University meant that there had been “something wrong with athletics’ role in the University.”
“I knew you were going to ask me, somehow,” Joyner said. “No, I don’t mean that. I’m here to make sure they’re aligned. I’m not an insider. I am just here to tell you that whatever has or has not gone on in the past, we’re going to go forward in the athletic department with my view, which is very much aligned with President Erickson’s view, that this is an academic unit.
“What value is sport except to educate our youth and teach young people about hard work, dedication, honor, and integrity? If we’ve lost some of that luster because of things that have happened, I can tell you I’ve never lost that core value, and this athletic department will reflect that core value.”
Although doors opened 45 minutes beforehand, the news conference itself lasted less than 25 minutes. Sports information director Jeff Nelson gave the “two more questions” warning although far more than two reporters still had questions. Joyner offered to take a third question from a reporter sitting in the front row, but Nelson said no.
It’s obvious there are more questions to come.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
Entry filed under: Campus issues, Controversy, Penn State football, Sandusky scandal. Tags: char morett, David Joyner, Ed Czekaj, Ernie McCoy, Joe Paterno, Mike McQueary, Schwab Auditorium, Tim Curley.