Posts filed under ‘Joe Paterno’
I’ve been driving by the former site of the Joe Paterno statue next to Beaver Stadium for the past week or so, watching the transformation from “statue/plaza” to “construction zone” to “grassy slope with trees, where you’d never know a statue once stood.” The project is pretty much finished now, and the fencing came down the other day; the photo at right is how things looked this morning.
Below is a short slide show of seven photos I took, starting Saturday, July 21 (the last day the statue was standing) and ending this morning. Click on any photo to pause the slide show.
Yesterday I spent some time talking with Brian Curran, a faculty member in art history who is fascinated by statues, monuments, and memorials, and who sees the controversy over the Paterno statue from multiple perspectives: as a member of the Penn State community as well as a scholar and historian. We’re hoping to include some of his thoughts in our next print edition, due out at the end of this month, and I’ll probably post a longer version of the interview on the blog as well.
Tina Hay, editor
With the flurry of emotions and opinions surrounding Monday’s NCAA announcement, PCAR’s Kristen Eisenbraun Houser ’93 is focused on the victims’ perspective. The sanctions, says Houser, will be a “catalyst for change not just at Penn State, but nationwide.” She talked with us about the NCAA’s ruling and what it means for all victims of child sexual abuse.
What message does the NCAA send to survivors of child sexual abuse with the sanctions against Penn State?
There are several important messages. First off, using the $60 million fine to endow services is the most appropriate thing that could have been done. It’s a phenomenal gesture to begin an endowment of that size, and that speaks volumes. The NCAA is recognizing a national problem of great scope, and the need for victims’ services should be first and foremost.
Dr. [Mark] Emmert’s statements were very much on target with conversations we’ve been having in the PCAR office. The sanctions send a strong message that protecting human dignity and safety trumps sport, period.
I’ve been very frustrated that the recent conversation has (more…)
Like everyone, we’re gobsmacked. Associate editor Mary Murphy and I were just discussing the NCAA’s unprecedented sanctions against Penn State, and she said, “I feel like I’m in that movie Inception, you know? When everything starts crumbling?”
Honestly, it’s felt that way around here since Nov. 4. This morning was a particular low point, though.
It wasn’t just the sanctions, although as I’m sure you know by now, they were bad enough:
- A $60 million fine to create endowments for organizations that fight child sex abuse. (This can’t be paid by cutting non-revenue sports or academic programs, the NCAA said, and Penn State doesn’t have to cut a check tomorrow. The fine can be paid over five years.) The Big Ten’s additional penalty: (more…)
I stopped by the Paterno statue twice yesterday and again this afternoon, just to shoot some photos before and after the statue’s removal. I’ve put about about a dozen images into the slide show below.
I don’t know what to tell you about all of this. Emotions are running so high right now, and I don’t think too much useful dialogue goes on when that’s the case. On the one side, there’s been some pretty hateful stuff being said about Penn State and Penn Staters, especially since the Freeh report was released. As Sports Illustrated‘s Michael Rosenberg said in an excellent piece on Thursday: “The scandal at Penn State is so outrageous that any level of outrage seems appropriate. And as a result, any level of punishment seems appropriate. Fines. Firings. Scholarship reductions. Frogs. Hail. Boils. Locusts.” (Rosenberg goes on, by the way, to argue that the NCAA death penalty is not called for here.)
On the other side, there are many Penn Staters who loved and still love Joe Paterno, are unconvinced of his culpability in the Sandusky scandal, point out that the Freeh report is not necessarily gospel, and think the University is throwing Paterno under the bus. For them, today’s removal of the statue was painful, a punch in the gut.
For what it’s worth, I continue to think that the statue had become a safety concern, an accident waiting to happen. Why? Because, as I said above, emotions are running so high right now. All it would take is one really angry person who happens to also be unstable mentally and … well, I don’t want to think about what could have happened. There may well have been other reasons to remove the statue, especially with the NCAA news conference looming tomorrow, but it’s hard to argue with the safety one.
Among the more than two dozen comments so far on my previous post about the statue, there is this one that stood out for me. It’s from Barbara Morgan-Cicippio ’74, who writes:
The statue is just a thing. I seem to remember that Coach did not like it and did not want it displayed anyway. We need to move past caring about things. I do not need a statue or a football team for that matter to remind me (more…)
At 5:30 a.m. or so, I took my first real, close-up look at the Joe Paterno statue. I’d passed it too many times to count; I’d stopped by when Paterno was dying and it was surrounded by mourners. I’d written about it, and its sculptor. But I’d never really seen it.
There was no crowd. Mostly media, including me, hanging around on a pleasant Sunday morning to see if anything would happen. Six “regular” people—students, and a guy from Bellefonte with his son and his son’s friend. After after days of speculation and news coverage, a pile of tributes left by other Penn Staters at the statue’s feet, including white roses, a football, and a sign that said, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. We are and always will be Penn State.”
Less than three hours later, the statue was gone.
President Rodney Erickson explained why in a statement released around 7 a.m., while Office of Physical Plant workers were hanging blue tarp on fences they’d just erected around the statue. Erickson’s statement read in part:
“I now believe that, contrary to its original intention, Coach Paterno’s statue has become a source of division and an obstacle to healing in our university and beyond. For that reason, I have decided that it is in the best interest of our university and public safety to remove the statue and store it in a secure location. I believe that, if it were to remain, the statue will be a recurring wound to the multitude of individuals across the nation and beyond have been the victims of child abuse.”
The scene was surreal.
My watch read 6:08 a.m. when (more…)
Just when we thought this whole sad mess couldn’t get any more bizarre, today an airplane flew repeatedly over campus and town, trailing a banner saying: TAKE THE STATUE DOWN OR WE WILL.
The Centre Daily Times reported that the plane is registered to an Ohio company, whose owner declined to say who hired him to trail the banner. He did, however, say, “I believe in freedom of speech.”
Is it free speech if you’re threatening criminal acts? I don’t have the legal chops to say. But I have a feeling that today’s incident doesn’t bode well for the statue.
There’s been a steady police presence at the statue ever since former FBI director Louis Freeh, hired by the Penn State Board of Trustees to investigate the Sandusky scandal, issued his report last Thursday. And today’s incident with the plane surely has Penn State police and others thinking about all of the possible things that could go wrong at that statue.
Picture the university having to have security at the statue 24/7 indefinitely. Picture the fights that could break out at the statue during home games. Worse yet, picture a bunch of fans posing at the statue before a game and some angry jerk deciding to drive a truck into the crowd. From a safety perspective, sadly, the statue is an incident—if not a tragedy—waiting to happen.
President Erickson told the Centre Daily Times today that a decision about the statue will be made in seven to 10 days. Here’s hoping someone comes up with a creative solution that, somehow, brings healing.
Tina Hay, editor
As the Penn State community continues to reel from the release of the Freeh Report, the national media has been busy weighing in on the findings and the fallout. Following the coverage can be overwhelming, but here are some articles from the past four days that are worth a read:
Guides to the Freeh Report
“A Guide to the Penn State Investigation”: From The Chronicle of Higher Education, an annotated summary of the report’s most significant findings.
“Analysis: Freeh report sheds new light on Jerry Sandusky scandal, but needs context”: Sara Ganim ’08 breaks down the important revelations, and identifies some of the report’s shortcomings. “It’s not the whole picture,” she writes.
The Paterno Statue
“After Report, Calls to Remove Paterno Statue at Penn State”: From The New York Times’ “The Lede” blog, a collection of Facebook and Twitter comments calling for the removal of the Joe Paterno statue immediately after the report’s release.
“Penn State denies decision made on Joe Paterno statue”: An update on the future of the statue and other landmarks bearing Paterno’s name and image.
“Joe Paterno, at the end, showed more interest in his legacy than Jerry Sandusky’s victims”: “Everything else about Paterno must now be questioned,” writes Sally Jenkins, the Washington Post reporter who interviewed Paterno before his death, in one of the harshest pieces out there.
“Paterno Won Sweeter Deal Even as Scandal Played Out“: A New York Times report on Paterno’s retirement contract, which it says was worked out long before Paterno announced his retirement last Nov. 9.
“A Failed Experiment”: At Grantland.com, Michael Weinreb ’94 reflects on Penn State’s moral culture, concluding, “The Grand Experiment is a failure, and the entire laboratory is contaminated.”
NCAA and the Death Penalty
Amidst handfuls of articles weighing the pros and cons of the NCAA-imposed “death penalty” at Penn State, here is a take from each side:
“Should Penn State Football Get the Death Penalty?”: Slate’s Josh Levin advocates for a temporary shutdown of Penn State football.
“In calls for justice at Penn State, NCAA death penalty would be injustice”: Columnist David Whitley takes the opposite stance: “When it comes to punishment, Penn State will have an unprecedented amount without the NCAA getting involved.”
Penn State Pride
“‘We Are Penn State’ and What That Means Today”: John Milewski ’79 on accountability as an alum.”For me, the burden of being Penn State includes taking responsibility for being part of the myth machine that brought us to where we are today.”
“I Went to Penn State—But Don’t Pity Me”: Vicki Glembocki ’93, ’02g on finding comfort—and pride—among fellow Penn Staters.
“Ashamed for Joe Paterno and Penn State’s leaders, but still proud of my school”: A strong alumni voice since November, LaVar Arrington ’00 believes supporting Penn State is the way to rebuild. “A big mistake would be making this all about loving or hating Paterno.”
What articles/links do you recommend? Share them in the comments below.
Mary Murphy, associate editor
Of all the answers former FBI director Louis Freeh gave today after the release of his group’s 267-page report on the Sandusky scandal, this might have been the most blunt. The report’s findings center on a Penn State leadership culture devoid of accountability at the highest level, in which a handful of men—Graham Spanier, Tim Curley ’76, ’78g, Gary Schultz ’71, ’75g, and Joe Paterno—failed in their responsibility to expose a serial pedophile. Their motivation, in Freeh’s words, was “avoiding the consequences of bad publicity.”
The Board of Trustees is cited as well for a failure to press for answers and hold the university’s administration accountable. The picture presented is clear: Jerry Sandusky ’66, ’71g was the monster in all this, but he was enabled, directly or not, by many others who had the power to stop him.
On Thursday, as throughout the scandal, much of the attention focused on Paterno’s accountability. On this, Freeh was careful but direct. “We have a great deal of respect for Mr. Paterno, and condolences for his family on their loss. He’s a person with a great legacy, terrific legacy… he, as someone once said, made perhaps the worst mistake of his life. We’re not singling him out. We’re putting him in a category of three other people who were major leaders of Penn State. He was also a major leader of Penn State. The facts are the facts… There’s a whole bunch of evidence here. We’re saying he was a major part of an active attempt to conceal… I regret that. But what my report says is what the evidence and the facts show. We laid that out as fairly and clearly as we can.”
The reactions from elsewhere in the Penn State community followed later in the day. Late Thursday morning, the Paterno family released a statement that defended its patriarch. “The idea that any sane, responsible adult would knowingly cover up for a child predator is impossible to accept,” it reads. “The far more realistic conclusion is that many people didn’t fully understand what was happening and underestimated or misinterpreted events.”
The family statement goes on: “Joe Paterno wasn’t perfect. He made mistakes and he regretted them. He is still the only leader to step forward and say that with the benefit of hindsight he wished he had done more. To think, however, that he would have protected Jerry Sandusky to avoid bad publicity is simply not realistic.”
Penn State president Rod Erickson and the university trustees met the media in Scranton in mid-afternoon. Board chair Karen Peetz ’77 and Ken Frazier ’75, who led the board’s investigative panel, both emphasized the trustees’ collective accountability in the scandal. Said Frazier, “We, the Penn State Board of Trustees, failed to provide proper oversight for the university’s operations.” Peetz echoed that statement, but said no trustees planned to resign, focusing on the acknowledgment of culpability as the first step in moving forward.
Both Peetz and Frazier addressed Paterno, commending his accomplishments and his massive positive impact on the university. But Peetz also acknowledged the “clarity that comes out of that report, that shows 61 years of excellent service to the university is now marred.”
The Board’s official statement on the Freeh Report, including details of action already taken and future plans, can be found here.
The public response to the report was immediate and harsh, much of it damning of Paterno and demanding NCAA sanctions against the Penn State football program. In Oregon, Nike announced that Paterno’s name would no longer adorn the childcare center at its headquarters. Phil Knight, the Nike founder and longtime Paterno family friend, said in a statement, “According to the investigation, it appears Joe made missteps that led to heartbreaking consequences. I missed that Joe missed it, and I am extremely saddened on this day. My love for Joe and his family remains.”
Ryan Jones, senior editor
Every three years, the Alumni Association surveys its members. It’s a way for us to see what alumni are thinking about their alma mater, to identify any problems, to see how better we can meet members’ needs.
The most recent survey was a little different. It included the usual questions—how satisfied are you with your student experience at Penn State; what are your overall feelings about Penn State; etc.—but it also took a look at perceptions and attitudes related to the Sandusky scandal and its aftermath.
The results are in.
Despite the tragedy of the scandal and the resulting negative publicity, 82 percent of respondents described their feelings toward Penn State as “very positive” or “somewhat positive.”
That said, 58 percent said that Penn State’s handling of Joe Paterno was all or mostly wrong. Asked the same question about Penn State’s handling of Graham Spanier, 20 percent responded that Penn State’s actions were all or mostly wrong.
Those of us in the Alumni Association were especially interested in the results of this question: “Please indicate the extent to which you trust the following the following groups to provide you with information about Penn State.” Of those who responded, 57 percent said the Alumni Association, 56 percent said current Penn State students, 23 percent said the administration, and 13 percent said the trustees.
And we at the magazine staff were particularly interested in the part where alumni were asked, “What information sources do you rely on for information about Penn State?” Some people answered in general terms (“the Internet,” “the news media,” etc.), but among those who named a specific information source, the most commonly mentioned (at 10 percent) was The Penn Stater, followed by psu.edu (7 percent), and the Centre Daily Times (6 percent).
Some other findings:
—33 percent agree that “Penn State should publicly recognize Graham Spanier for his years of service to Penn State.”
—87 percent agree that “Penn State should publicly recognize Joe Paterno for his years of service to Penn State.”
—35 percent say that “There are still people at Penn State who are accountable for this tragedy and have not been held responsible.”
—33 percent agree that “Penn State has been holding back information about the problem.”
—Only 15 percent say that “This issue is just one extreme example of a larger problem at Penn State of secrecy and cover-ups.”
—63 percent of respondents agree that Penn State “will be able to rebuild the trust and confidence that people have had in the University.”
The survey was conducted by StrategyOne, a company owned by Edelman, which Penn State has hired as a consultant. The Alumni Association provided 10,000 randomly chosen alumni records with either phone numbers or email addresses, and 1,282 alumni responded. You can download a PDF of the survey results and read a news release here.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
Exactly six months after the grand jury presentment was leaked—it was late afternoon, Nov. 4, when the charges made against Jerry Sandusky ’66, ’71g became known—the most contested Board of Trustees election in Penn State’s history ended. Adam Taliaferro ’05, Anthony Lubrano ’82, and Ryan McCombie ’70 will begin their three-year terms in July.
Everything about the election was unprecedented—the 86 candidates, the 37,579 votes cast, the hiring of KMPG to audit the results, which were announced in Friday’s Board of Trustees meeting. The university assigned PINs, allowing alumni to vote electronically, to 197,517 people, meaning that 19 percent of the eligible voters cast ballots.
Taliaferro, a lawyer and New Jersey selectman who’s best known as the football player who was paralyzed in a game against Ohio State, but beat the odds and learned to walk again, received 15,629 votes. Lubrano, a businessman who donated money for the baseball stadium, Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, received 10,096. McCombie, a businessman and retired Navy SEAL, received 4,806 votes.
Karen Peetz ’77, chair of the board, said she doesn’t anticipate any problems integrating the new alumni trustees, although emotions have run high since the Sandusky scandal, especially over Joe Paterno. She said Penn State is “extremely fortunate” that so many alums cared enough about the university to run.
The agricultural societies that elect six trustees also voted this week, with incumbent Carl Shaffer, president of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, and Donald Cotner ’71, president of an egg company, winning with 112 and 100 votes, respectively. Current business and industry trustees Kenneth Frazier ’75 and Edward Hintz ’59, whose terms expired in 2012, were re-elected to the board; business trustees are voted on by the board members. Gov. Tom Corbett has not yet decided on his appointees; the terms of two of his six appointees expire this year, as well.
During the meeting, Peetz noted that the board is considering changes in its structure, citing the reorganization of its standing committees in March. James Broadhurst ’65, who is chairing the governance and long-range planning committee, said the board is looking into term limits and how to better use the experience of the emeriti trustees, among other suggestions.
At this point, one of the spectators in the room asked if the board were taking questions from the public. Told that was not the case, he then said he just wanted to make a statement—that the trustees consider making it possible for students and faculty to interact directly with them.
But no aspect of the trustees has received more attention recently than the alumni vote; the Associated Press reported that it drew more attention that the Pennsylvania primary election. Eighteen other candidates received more than 1,000 votes:
Barbara L. Doran ’75: 4,040
Mark S. Connolly ’84g: 2,967
Ben Novak ’65, ’99g: 2,957
Vincent J. Tedesco Jr. ’74: 2,385
Anne Riley ’64, ’75g: 1,883
O. Richard Bundy ’93, ’96g: 1,864
John W. Diercks ’63, ’67g, ’75g: 1,761
Jayne E. Miller ’76: 1,653
Jonathan L. Wesner ’65: 1,530
George T. Henning Jr. ’63: 1,503
Joanne C. DiRinaldo ’78: 1,455
Thomas J. Sharbaugh ’73: 1,410
Darlene R. Baker ’80: 1,212
Patty Marrero ’88: 1,172
Matthew J. Lisk ’95: 1,060
Amy L. Williams ’80: 1,048
Marta Pepe Forney ’00: 1,047
William F. Oldsey ’76: 1,007
Three more alumni seats will come open next year. I’m sure I’m not alone in suspecting next year’s election will be hotly contested, too.
Lori Shontz, senior editor