Posts tagged ‘ESPN’

The Paterno Family Responds

Couric_Paterno

Sue Paterno (right) on the Katie Couric show on Monday, Feb. 11.

Those of us who work on The Penn Stater got together first thing this morning to talk about the latest development in the Sandusky scandal—the release of the Paterno family-commissioned rebuttal to the Freeh Report—and to figure out how to accommodate it in the next issue.

As I’m sure you know, ESPN devoted its Outside the Lines program yesterday to a new report in which four key figures, including former U.S. attorney general Dick Thornburgh and former FBI profiler Jim Clemente, blast the findings of the Freeh Report. (The other two experts are a Johns Hopkins expert on sexual disorders, Fred Berlin, and the Paterno family attorney, Wick Sollers.) The ESPN segment coincided with the launch of the website Paterno.com, where the newly released analysis can be found, and a segment on ABC-TV this afternoon in which Katie Couric interviews Sue Paterno ’62, three of the Paterno children, and two former Penn State football players, among others.

The Paterno family, in other words, is fighting back—fighting to get its side of the story heard and to refute the Freeh report’s claim that Joe Paterno helped cover up Jerry Sandusky’s sexual abuse of children.

Before this latest news hit, we had thought we were pretty much finished with the March/April issue. We were putting the final touches on two of the features and my column, while all of the other pages had already been put to bed. But this morning we agreed pretty quickly that we’ll need to rework the “Fallout” section, which is the department in each issue where we put ongoing news about the scandal. We’re adding a page to that section, and instead of leading off with Gov. Corbett’s lawsuit against the NCAA, we’ll push that to a later page and instead lead with the news of the Paterno family’s initiative.

Our story will most likely be just a recap of what’s happened in the past 36 hours or so, and it may or may not tell readers anything they don’t already know. But we’re unanimous in our feeling that it has to be there. From a credibility standpoint, if nothing else, we can’t imagine readers flipping through the March/April issue in a couple of weeks and not seeing a word about this.

Bimonthly print magazines generally aren’t the most nimble of media, and this isn’t the first time that developments in the scandal have forced us to scramble. But, to the staff’s credit, they just roll with it.

In the meantime, you can download the new Paterno analysis at Paterno.com. If you read nothing else, you might at least check out the section written by Clemente, the FBI guy; he talks quite a bit about how pedophiles operate and offers pragmatic advice for parents and others.

Also at Paterno.com, you’ll find Sue Paterno’s message to Penn State football lettermen, in which she answers the question of what the family hopes to accomplish by its newest efforts:

Is it the return of the statue? The restoration of Joe’s wins? His name on the football stadium? … Joe Paterno’s legacy wasn’t a statue, a winning record or public adulation. … His legacy is his family and you his players. How you live your life speaks louder than any report. The great fathers, husbands and citizens you have become fulfill the dreams Joe had. All that we want — and what I believe we owe the victims, Joe Paterno and everyone who cares about Penn State — is the full record of what happened.

It remains to be seen how much momentum the Paterno family’s efforts might gather. Early media reaction has been mixed at best; Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports and Gene Wojciechowski of ESPN are among those who have been critical, and the Harrisburg Patriot‘s David Jones argues that it’s not about a cover-up anyway—it’s simply about Paterno’s failure to do enough to stop Sandusky.

On the other hand, a Philadelphia media outlet reported today that one Penn State trustee, Alvin Clemens ’59, thinks the trustees should now take a fresh look at the Freeh Report. And Sollers, the Paterno family attorney, hasn’t ruled out the possibility of taking legal action of some sort. What happens from here is anyone’s guess.

Tina Hay, editor

February 11, 2013 at 6:30 pm 24 comments

Moving Forward, in Unity and Defiance

It started quietly, with Bill O’Brien releasing a short statement Monday morning. He followed that Tuesday with a teleconference with local media in which he laid out his approach to dealing with the NCAA-imposed obstacles to on-field success: He will emphasize all that Penn State still has to offer—home games in front of 100,000-plus fans, facilities on par with any in the nation, a coaching staff that understands how to prepare prospects for a chance at the NFL. Already, he is pitching players and recruits—any of whom can leave for another program if they choose—on rising to the challenge. And, yes, he says he’s “committed for the long term.”

O’Brien’s media tour continued Wednesday with appearances on ESPN (this 15-minute interview is well worth watching), all leading up to his trip to Chicago for this week’s Big Ten media days. As he’s done almost without fail in his first seven months on the job, O’Brien continues to say all the right things. On Wednesday morning, he got some backing from his players, as a group of a few dozen, led by seniors and likely captains Michael Zordich and Michael Mauti, met the media to publicly state their unity and commitment to the program.

There’s no telling how many current and future Lions will be able to maintain such a fierce commitment over the next four years. But after another rough stretch of days in an ongoing saga, this is a promising sign.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

July 25, 2012 at 11:23 am 9 comments

An Afternoon with Joe Paterno and Mike Krzyzewski

Steve Manuel captured this candid image between segments of ESPN's taping on Monday.

If you’re a veteran Joe Paterno watcher and/or a Penn State fan, when you tune into the ESPN special Difference Makers: Life Lessons with Paterno and Krzyzewski, you’re going to recognize a lot of Paterno’s material.

Reading the Aeneid in high school. A couple of Rip Engle references. A salute to his wife, Sue Pohland ’62, whom he jokingly called “bossy,” before praising her involvement with Special Olympics and their church (with a shoutout to the student Catholic center, under construction, that will bear her name).

And the explanation for why he turned down a lucrative offer to coach the NFL’s New England Patriots: “I stayed where I thought I’d be happy. … But I didn’t take the vow of poverty.”

Paterno grinned, slyly, and the 900 or so people who attended the taping Monday afternoon in Eisenhower Auditorium laughed and cheered. Brad Young ’96 wrote in our 2009 coverage of an Evening with Joe event in New York that Paterno has “probably worked as many cocktail hours as he has sidelines,” and that Paterno was much in evidence, joking, laughing, telling stories, and generally appearing to be having a fine old time.

As was Duke’s legendary basketball coach, Mike Krzyzewski. The two coaches—who have combined for 1,301 victories and six national championships—had never met before, but by the time they arrived on stage, they appeared as comfortable with each other as a pair of touring vaudeville comedians.

That was apparent from the first topic from host Rece Davis: characteristics of a great teacher. Paterno waxed eloquent about the need for convictions and empathy, and explained that various players needed to be treated differently: “some need a kick in the butt, some need stroking, some need a kiss …”

Krzyzewski broke in: “I watch Coach all the time, and I’ve never seen kissing.”

The coaches bantered back and forth a bit, although it was hard to hear everything over the laughter. Which was loud.

In the next segment, a discussion about the importance of family, Krzyzewski said that his three daughters were like sisters to his players, and with a perfectly timed pause, added, “They better be only sisters.” Amid laughter, he said that wasn’t a problem because he had told his daughters to go out only with “good-looking guys I trust,” which left out his players.

And left Paterno to respond: “I wonder what his wife’s father told her.”

There were serious moments, too, especially as the coaches talked about how they develop leaders and what they love so much about college campuses. But I think most people left the taping having enjoyed the camaraderie between the coaches.

Other hilarious moments:

Paterno, after Krzyzewski talked about dancing when the Blue Devils won national titles: “I like to dance. I can do the lindy hop.” (He made a few vaguely dance-like movements in his chair. You need to see it to appreciate it, so be sure to tune in to ESPN on Thursday, June 30. The first hour of the program will air on ESPN, and the final 30 minutes on ESPNU.)

Krzyzewski, when Paterno paused before answering a student question about what it was like to be an icon at Penn State: “Actually, I think your statue should be bigger.”

Paterno: “Tell me, What is an icon? If you mean it’s some good-looking, handsome … I like it!”

As did the live audience. And I bet the TV audience will, as well.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

June 20, 2011 at 7:36 pm Leave a comment

ESPN Brings You Penn State “Student Bodies” In 3-D

Here’s something unexpected—and a little weird—but very cool: As a tie-in with its current “Body Issue,” ESPN The Magazine chose one college from which to get a broad survey of athletes’ bodies. That school? Penn State. But these aren’t just photos of student-athletes—they’re 3-D images done through some sort of high-tech (and highly realistic) scanner. The results, which you can scroll through here, are strange, enlightening, and compelling.

Why’d they choose Penn State? According to the blurb that opens the feature, the magazine was attracted by “one of the nation’s largest (325-plus scholarship athletes) and smartest (82% graduation rate) athletics programs.”

On a cool personal side note: Five of the 29 athletes featured — including Lauren Purvis and Jack Crawford, pictured above — have also appeared as our magazine’s “Lead Athlete” profile over the past couple of years. Kind of proud of that, even if our images were only 2-D.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

October 7, 2010 at 4:47 pm Leave a comment

Terry Pegula’s “Transformational” Gift Brings Division I Ice Hockey To Penn State

Terry Pegula said he “thought long and hard” about whether donating a nearly nine-digit sum to help Penn State build an ice hockey arena was the right thing to do. When he finally decided on that massive gift — the largest private donation in University history — Pegula says, he did it because he saw it as a way to build much more than an arena.

As announced Friday, Pegula ’73 and his wife, Kim, are giving $88 million to fund the construction of a new ice hockey arena and the formation of men’s and women’s Division I hockey programs. Athletic Director Tim Curley ’76, ’78 MEd called the gift “transformational” and “a game changer” that would position Penn State as a national power in the sport (and indeed, the announcement rated front-page space Friday afternoon on ESPN.com). The gift also figures to generate jobs, provide the athletic department with a third revenue-producing sport, and make the University a regional hub for hockey and skating development.

Pegula made his fortune as founder of East Resources Inc., an oil and natural gas company that was recently sold to Royal Dutch Shell for $4.7 billion. A longtime hockey fanatic, Pegula said he decided to share some of his wealth with Penn State after a conversation with Joe Battista ’83, former coach of the Penn Stater Icers. “This started in late 2006, when Joe and I were having dinner, and I asked him, ‘Why doesn’t Penn State have varsity hockey?’ He informed me that money doesn’t fall from the sky.” Four years later, Pegula has done the next best thing.

Most of the details are still to be worked out, but here’s what we know about the arena and the team that will call it home. The facility will be built on campus between the Shields Building and Holuba Hall, across University Drive from the Bryce Jordan Center. An architect hasn’t yet been chosen, but a rough floor plan includes a main rink with seating for 5,000 to 6,000 and a second rink that will host camps, clinics, and public skating, among other events. Curley said he expects the arena to be completed by the spring of 2014, in time for the Penn State Nittany Lion hockey teams to begin play there that fall.

The teams themselves are expected to start skating in the 2012-13 season, when they’ll be housed at the Greenberg Sports Complex. Both teams will play as independents initially, with the expectation of conference play — either in a newly formed Big Ten hockey conference, or in an existing league — within two to three years. The men will have 18 available scholarships and the women will offer 20.

We’ll have much more on this story in our Nov/Dec issue, but for now, you can check out the official University release. There’s also plenty of interesting perspective on the Web, both from on campus and out of state:

-The Kalamazoo Gazette, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, and AnnArbor.com offer interesting takes on how Penn State’s jump to Division I might impact the college hockey world, from possible conference realignment to its effect on some of the smaller but traditionally competitive hockey schools.

-How big is this news nationally? ESPN and The New York Times weigh in.

-Joe Battista, who arguably wore the biggest smile in the room Friday (as he often does), wrote about the emotional experience of finally seeing DI hockey in Happy Valley on StateCollege.com.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

September 17, 2010 at 11:57 pm 3 comments

Tanisha Wright On The Verge of a WNBA Title

Tanisha Wright ’06 scored 17 points and added a game-high 5 steals Tuesday night to help the Seattle Storm take a 2-0 lead over Atlanta in the WNBA Finals. Wright, who was recently named to the WNBA all-defensive first team for the second straight season, is one game away from following Kelly Mazzante ’04 as a WNBA champion. Mazzante won a ring last season as a member of the Phoenix Mercury.

ESPN.com posted a video interview with Wright earlier this week, and it’s worth a quick look. Game 3 of the best-of-five series is Thursday night in Atlanta.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

September 15, 2010 at 11:08 am 1 comment

Writing Inspiration from Jayson Stark

Jayson Stark, baseball writer for ESPN.com, usually asks the questions. Wednesday morning, he fielded them as he spoke to a room crammed with Penn State journalism students. I especially hope they paid close attention to how he answered the first question, about how he developed his conversational writing style.

“All I’ve ever tried to do is be me,” he said. “But I grew up in Philadelphia, which is a city of great sports writers. And I read them all. I devoured every word. If you want to be a writer—or a journalist, or anything—you really should be watching and reading and listening and studying the people you love the most.”

I know exactly what he means. The only way to learn to write is to read, read, read. And when I was in college, spending most of my time in The Daily Collegian office, one of the people I read was Jayson Stark. I’m a Pittsburgh girl, but I splurged on The Philadelphia Inquirer every Sunday during baseball season to read his Major League Baseball notes column. It was always well written, it always made me laugh, and it always taught me something about writing.

Stark was the second speaker at the Foster Conference of Distinguished Writers, a two-day event sponsored by the College of Communications. I require that my journalism students go to one of the two lectures because the other thing that young writers must do, whenever possible, is listen to other writers talk about the craft. Make that any writer. I no longer qualify as young, but I still learn by listening to writers tell about the story behind the story.

Stark said one of the reasons he left the newspaper business after 21 years was because tightening deadlines made it difficult to do good work. He used to have to file a story after a baseball game, for instance, as fast as 10 or 12 minutes after the final out. Now, as a writer for ESPN.com, he is able to continue his reporting after the newspaper journalists have run back to the press box to meet their deadlines.

“I have the ability, the luxury, the time, the space to tell those stories the way they deserve to be told,”  he said. “It’s really cool to be able to do that. I am going to be the last person out of the locker room. They are going to have to kick me out.”

Celebrating the 2008 World Series.

Stark has always had a knack for finding the perfect number, the telling statistic, so I also loved hearing about how he came up with this nugget: When the Philadelphia Phillies finally won the World Series in 2008, the city had watched its four major sports teams play 9,029 games without celebrating a championship.

No, Stark didn’t have that number at his fingertips. He did a ton of advance research. He counted every game played by the Phillies, the Eagles, the Flyers, and the Sixers over a quarter-century. “I believe in details and trying to add facts and numbers that give perspective,” he said. “The next thing I know, I’ve ruined an hour of my life. But I have to find the answers to those questions.”

He was smiling as he said it. “Ruining” an hour? Hardly. For those of us who love to dig for information and find entertaining ways to present it, it doesn’t get any better.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

March 24, 2010 at 3:56 pm Leave a comment

Football Season Gets Closer By The Second

Tickets went on sale Monday for Penn State’s 2010 Big Ten matchup “at” Indiana — the quotes nodding to the fact that Indiana has chosen to play its home game at FedEx Field outside Washington, D.C. The Hoosiers’ motivation is purely financial, while Penn Staters benefit by having lots of tickets available for a game just a few hours from Happy Valley. Tickets are available to Nittany Lion Club members, with the high point holders getting first crack; NLC members can click here to log into their accounts and check on availability.

There won’t be nearly as many tickets available to Penn Staters when the Nittany Lions face defending national champion Alabama next September in Tuscaloosa, but there is good news: The game is almost certain to be a prime-time national telecast on ESPN. The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports that CBS, which has dibs on SEC home games, will pass on the game because it would conflict with the network’s coverage of US Open tennis. The story quotes CBS executive VP Mike Aresco saying the network tried to talk Penn State into moving the game up a week, but that the administration wouldn’t budge.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

March 16, 2010 at 8:50 am Leave a comment

Christine Godleski Joins WNBA Front Office

Add another Penn State alum to the growing number of women who are making their way into the management of professional sports. The WNBA announced today that Christine Godleski ’86 will become its chief operating officer.

The league hasn’t had a COO since 2005, according to this article in the Sports Business Journal (which you can read if you have a subscription or want a free trial), but is expanding its local sponsorship and ticket sales programs. It’s likely that Godleski, who majored in accounting, will be involved with that, and she’ll be in charge of day-to-day business operations for the entire 12-team league.

Godleski previously worked at the Walt Disney Company and ESPN, most recently as vice president/general manager of ESPN Outdoors. She’s been working as a consultant since 2006.

And while her resume doesn’t include any on-court basketball time, she’s got an array of fascinating accomplishments, including volunteering as a teacher in Tanzania and reaching the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

January 25, 2010 at 6:40 pm 1 comment

Paterno Antsy for Big Ten Expansion

A friend called my attention to a story in yesterday’s Chicago Tribune about the recent talk of expanding the Big Ten. Joe Paterno has told ESPN (again) that he’d love to see a Big East team join the Big Ten, and he mentioned Rutgers, Pitt, Syracuse, “even Connecticut.” Having a 12th team would pave the way for a Big Ten championship game, which would keep the league in people’s minds a little longer each fall.

“Right now we play—and then we sit and watch,” the paper quotes Paterno as saying. “We were through (with the regular season) Nov. 21st.”

It’s not the first time Paterno has made his views on the subject known; last April, when he was in New York City for one of the Alumni Association’s “An Evening with Joe” events, he told ESPN pretty much the same thing.

It also brings to mind this item from our senior editor Ryan Jones, writing last March about Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese’s regret that that conference didn’t add Penn State back in 1982. Penn State was an independent at the time, and the Big East came within one vote of inviting the University to join. Interesting to think about how things might be different today if that vote had turned out differently.

Tina Hay, editor

December 26, 2009 at 12:26 pm 2 comments

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