A Few Words From Ed Rendell …

July 24, 2012 at 4:29 pm 14 comments

So, I was pulled out of a meeting Tuesday morning to take a phone call from Ed Rendell.

This is not the kind of thing that typically happens around here, but—hey—these are not typical times.

Turns out that the former governor’s most recent Saturday sports column, which he writes for the SportsWeek section of the Philadelphia Daily News, was particularly relevant to us: It’s about Penn State being more than a football team. He’d asked the Daily News if he could offer it to us for publication, and his editor said sure. “I’m not running for anything,” Rendell said, “but I thought this might be good for your alumni.”

You can find it below. Keep in mind that this was originally published July 21, two days before the sanctions were announced.

Lori Shontz, senior editor


In Wednesday’s Daily News there was an excellent discussion of whether Penn State’s football program should receive the death penalty for the transgressions of four of its key personnel and for the deeply flawed culture surrounding the program that was so clearly and forcefully laid out by the Freeh Report. The NCAA president, while acknowledging that this situation was unique, did not rule out that possibility.

I strongly believe that the death penalty would be an inappropriate sanction as a result of the immense collateral damage that such a sanction would create. In addition to punishing the University, it would unfairly punish the players and coaches who had absolutely nothing to do with the horrific behavior that occurred here. In fact, many of these same players were responsible for perhaps the only bright spot that took place in the last year, when the entire team walked out to midfield for the coin toss with the entire Nebraska team and knelt in prayer for the children who were abused.

I believe Penn State should be punished, but the correct action would be for the NCAA to take away all or a significant part of the profits generated by the football program and give them to non-profit agencies who are trying to deal with the horror of child abuse. This punishment should be meted out for a number of years. Now I realize that this action would hurt virtually every other sports program at Penn State that depends on the funds generated by football, but this loss of funds will have to be counterbalanced by what has already been a tremendous level of alumni support.

I have witnessed firsthand thousands of Nittany Lion alumni literally roar with great pride, WE ARE PENN STATE. In the face of the unspeakable tragedy that has occurred, it is time for every one of them to decide what it really is about Penn State that they are so proud of. Is Penn State all about the fabled football program that has achieved so much success in what seemed to be done in the “right way”? Or is it much more than that?

Is it the College of Agriculture Sciences, which helps make Pennsylvania one of the most productive farm states in the nation with its cutting edge research and scientific innovations? Is it the College of Education, which has provided schools all over the nation with tens of thousands of incredibly well prepared teachers? Or is it the College of Engineering, which annually graduates more engineers than any university in the country?

How about its Millennium Science Complex, where 232 US companies have used its nanofabrication facilities for research and testing and whose faculty has produced 2,194 scholarly papers on nanotechnology—15 percent of all those in America in a four-year period. During my tenure as governor, the state’s capital redevelopment assistance program gave nearly $80 million to help create this complex.  In just a few short years, we have seen it produce thousands of well paying jobs, conduct amazing research that is helping to develop potential remedies for previously incurable liver cancer, and produce advanced materials that can be used for thermal surgery cameras and in spectrum analyzers.

The obvious point of all this should be clear to everyone—that Penn State is a whole lot more than its football program. It’s a flat-out great university that does so much good for our state, our country, and the world. So this is the time for its alumni to step up and support all of Penn State’s great athletic AND academic programs.

In a true testament to the alumni’s unwavering support of the university, more donors than ever before contributed in 2011-2012, leading to a total of $208 million, which is the second largest amount in Penn State’s history. Now is clearly the time for the alumni to continue to rally around their school and to say loudly and clearly that this great center of learning will endure, will survive even the death penalty (if imposed) because the Penn State that “WE ARE” is a whole lot more than football!!!

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The NCAA Ruling and the Victims Moving Forward, in Unity and Defiance

14 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Anonymous  |  July 24, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    I am not an Alumni of Penn State but my brother is. I totally agree. It is a shame that those that had nothing to do with this scandal are being punished for others actions. I’m not sure what percentage of the students are football players but I am sure that it isn’t the majority. And I am also sure that “WE ARE PENN STATE” is roared from the fans at other Penn State games and functions and millions of alumni ……

  • 2. Warren Whiteoak  |  July 24, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    I also agree that those who had nothing to do are being punished, all the current and few athletes in all Penn State sports sand the local Happy Valley economy. Where was the NCAA when then Attorney General Tom Corbett (now Governor) was first investigating the allegations. What ever happened to the local prosecutor who disappeared during his investigation of the allegations. Hopefully in time all the truth will come out in the mean tim as Ed Rendell said we should be proud of all the good about Penn State and move on.

  • 3. Tom Leahy  |  July 24, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    I do wonder why current Governor Corbitt didn’t help orchestrate a more measured and less reactive plan of action by the Board. How could Pennsylvania’s chief executive allow our “flat out great university” mis-manage the public relations on a National Level.
    Seems Ed, the U of P grad from NYC relates better to the value of Penn State than his Lebanon Valley successor…Just saying.

  • 4. gman91478  |  July 24, 2012 at 11:31 pm

    To answer Warren’s and Tom’s questions about good ole’ Governor Corbett, everything can be summed up in one response: He is a tea-party Republican. Republicans are notorious for not supporting education on any level. In Corbett’s short reign of terror, he has cut more funding from education (public K-12 and higher education) than most institutions can handle without raising local taxes or increasing tuition. (These cuts came after promising during his campaign not to cut funding to education.) The ONLY Board of Trustee meeting he went to at Penn State (as governor, he is automatically on the BoT… unfortunately) was the emergency meeting to discuss the firing of Joe Paterno. From what I understand, he was the biggest supporter of firing Paterno. He has done nothing for Penn State. He screwed up his investigation of Sandusky (anytime a child is abused, it is the responsibility of those that know about the abuse to report it to child protective services: Corbett did no such thing). However, because Corbett is a crooked politician (more so than most others), he will never see any repercussions for what he did… or did not do… with this scandal.

  • 5. SemiSpook  |  July 25, 2012 at 10:03 am

    gman, I’d like to refer you to this site: yardbird.com. Gives an excellent case on why your claim that Corbett is a Tea Partier is dead wrong. He had already served one term as AG under Governor Ridge (oddly enough, it was right around the time of the ’98 allegations), and at during the time of the Victim #1 case, he had already shunted most of the AG staff into “Bonusgate” as well as campaigning for governor. I think his role in this entire scandal is much more detrimental to the University than you realize (case in point, Joe didn’t even give him an endorsement).

    Also, I take issue with saying Rs aren’t for education (again, look at who was thrown under the proverbial bus for the past 9 months). Far from it. We just believe there’s a better way than simply throwing more money at the problem, and many of us also believe that draconian cuts aren’t the solution either. Accountability is the key.

  • 6. Brenda  |  July 25, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    Gman, I agree with you completely and SemiSpook, you really do not know what you are talking about!

  • 7. kathi Blake  |  July 26, 2012 at 9:21 am

    The NCAA’s sanctions have created another set of victims, the football players, who had absolutely nothing to do with the Sandusky atrocities. I agree that there are those who should be severely punished for their part in this. The players had no part.

  • 8. Nancy Jessup  |  July 26, 2012 at 9:56 am

    This article is so right on! It puts the emphasis where a school’s importance should be placed which is on the academic accomplishments of the school. The football program at PSU was way out of sync in the importance it was receiving in comparison with all the wonderful academic and research accomplishments of the school. The football bubble has burst and how it is time to put the athletics programs in their proper place which is on the same level with all the other wonderful programs at PSU — right along side of them — not above them! PSU clearly deserves to be recognized for all its outstanding academic programs and having the football program kicked off its pedestal so it can be realigned along side of ALL the wonderful programs at PSU is the way to go! I love PSU and will always support the PSU community.

  • 9. JoJo  |  July 26, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    Kudos to Ed Rendell

  • 10. Dean Patton  |  July 26, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    While “One Term Tom” has done all he could to portray PSU and Joe Paterno as the evil doers here, he has forgotton one thing… he will long be forgotten in just a few short years. The Board of Trustees have proven that money and an education does not make you someone with integrity, but it does prove that you really need to evaluate and make educated decisions, before you allow any media, or Government agency to dictate and rush to a judgement… a false one to boot.

    In the years to come and the dirt settles the Freeh Report will be found to as flawed and not worth the paper it was printed on. Then, and only then will the victim’s of Sandusky be treated with respect. The media made a total circus of them and their plight just to sell papers, TV ads, and to spread nothing more then garbage.

    The NCAA in all it’s mighty has fined the school 60 million, Instead of the money going to a good cause the heads of the all knowing, and godly NCAA will sleep better. In reality they were manipulated by the media. The victims are not being considered in anything. They were tools and just fodder used by the Media to make a big splash for ratings.

    For the first time I agree with some of Ed Rendell’s thoughts. The money would be better spent on victim’s causes, and education. Ohh, let’s take away Joe’s record…… in 20 years and after the truth finally comes out they will have to put them back in place. Something earned truthfully, and honestly has to stand, and no governing agency can ever take it away. The truth, no matter how much they want to hide it, or how much they do bend the truth it will be told. Guess blaming it all on the dead guy works for those who can not really look at themselves in a mirror.

  • 11. Katie  |  July 26, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    Thank you for your post, Dean. Very well stated, and it echoes my belief that this just isn’t over.

    As for gman above, I have to respond. I suspect you are a teacher, as am I. You do our profession no good when you stereotype Republicans . . . especially when you don’t seem to process that Coach Paterno was a longstanding and vocal member of the Republican Party. Guess what? There are Republicans out there who do support public education AND want to see tax dollars spent wisely. Corbett is an idiot because he just is, and ethically/morally bankrupt politicians come from both sides of the aisle . . . just ask John Edwards. And what on earth did the PSEA/PACE agenda for Corbett-hating have to do with this situation? What you said with respect to that was irrelevant and, frankly, odd.

    Thank you, Ed Rendell.

  • 12. Realist  |  July 26, 2012 at 9:06 pm

    Who cares about the stupid football team? If that’s the only thing the university has going for them, then what’s that say about the school. Time to actually do what you attended college for, kids -STUDY.

  • 13. Katie  |  July 26, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    Here’s a does of reality, Realist, The Pennsylvania State University experience is far more than football . . . and it’s far more than just studying . . . it’s learning how to be an adult, how to be independent, how to be successful in a field of study, and how to be a member of a community. Football at Penn State provides a sense of community, whether the member of that community is 19 or 91. It’s what brings us together. And, as Rendell has pointed out by enumerating our successes (which exceed what this article has outlined), we did/do study . . . hard. Do you have any idea what kinds of grades those kids up at University Park have to obtain in high school to attend that campus? Do you know that Penn State football players are a model of academic perseverence? Apparently not. If all those kids up there did was study, then we’d send a lot of young adults out into the world who had no idea how to live in it. THAT’S being a realist, friend.

  • 14. MDGuy  |  July 26, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    gman. I hate to say but you are wrong on your politics, yet correct on Corbett. He is nothing but a lying cheating typical politician. He is the one who insisted on not prosecuting in ’98 and could have prevented the last 14 years of chaos. He could very well have led to a more appropriate response, after all he is the freaking governor. It sure seems as though he fully well understood the importance of Paterno taking all the flak. It’s no secret that Joe Paterno is the fall guy. You’ll see Corbett won’t be questioned, Spanier won’t be charged. The dead man who cannot defend himself is the scapegoat. I hope his family’s investigation brings more facts to light. I think it will because they have plenty of money to toss around into such a venture. I am no longer a resident of PA so I wasn’t there for his campaign, but cutting education funding at the state level is a good thing. Per student we spend more money than anyone else in the world, yet our standards keep falling. Education should be run on the local level, not the state or federal level and if taxes go up then so be it. Actually it’s best if taxes go up, because once they go up the residents really see the effect of the bad decisions their school boards are making and can finally begin to reign them in and get us to low tax, high result situations. Same for federal funding. I don’t like knowing I’m paying to school kids in California any more more than the county next door. And in fact even next door neighbors. But that is an entirely unrelated tangent.

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