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$60 Million Fine Affects Penn State Campus Wide

The statue of Joe Paterno was taken down after Sandusky scandal. Photo courtesy of pennstatelive/Flickr.com

As united as the Penn State community stands, you still have to shake your head to the ones who let them down. Of course, the one who deserves the most blame would be Sandusky, but as revealed in the media last spring, many people in authority at Penn State were responsible in attempting to cover up the scandal. Because of this, Penn State will be paying for this for many years. According to CBS Sports, the school has already paid $16.8 million for legal fees which included lawyers and consultants. But that’s not even the worst of it, as the school will be facing many lawsuits from the sexually abused victims.

Though the football program did not receive the “death penalty” in which they would have to sit out for a year, they will still be facing severe punishment that will greatly hinder the program. NCAA slapped on a $60 million fine to the football program, reduced the amount of football scholarships and put the team on a four year probation from the Big Ten Championship. Since investigators found evidence that head football coach Joe Paterno persuaded university officials not to report any of the rapes to outside law enforcement, he was fired. His statue in front of the football stadium was torn down this summer and according to ESPN his wins from 1998 to 2011 were vacated, resulting in his 409 wins dropping to 298.

This whole scandal has turned Penn State upside down, but who is Penn State? It’s easy to think of the menacing face of Sandusky and not feel bad one bit. It’s even easy to think of Paterno and the greed that clouded his moral responsibilities. But Penn State is not just comprised of Sandusky, Paterno and other school officials who made a huge mistake. Penn State is the sophomore studying pre-med in the library until two in the morning. Penn State is the basketball player from New Jersey whose athletic full ride is what made college possible. Penn State is the kid from Bellefonte who attended every Penn State football game with his dad growing up. Penn State is the painting and drawing professor who never attended a football game in her life.

It makes you wonder if the right people are being punished. Not only were the 1998 to 2011 wins taken away from Paterno, but also from over two decades of Penn State football players. Their hard work and dedication to the team has been erased by the NCAA. Adam Taliaferro, a former Nittany Lion, suffered a spinal cord injury during a game in 2000. After hearing about the vacated wins, he expressed his dismay in a tweet, “NCAA says games didn’t exist. I got the metal plate in my neck to prove it did… I almost died playing 4 PSU…punishment or healing?!? #WeAre.” There will be hundreds of other players whose history of Penn State football will have vanished. Sandusky will rot in prison for what he did. The late Paterno will have his reputation tarnished. Some school officials will struggle to find new jobs after being fired for the part they played in trying to cover this up. But the small people, like the students, professors, staff and outside community are left to pick up the pieces and keep hope afloat at Penn State University.

Vanessa Righeimer can be reached at vanessa.righeimer@spartans.ut.edu

4 Comments on $60 Million Fine Affects Penn State Campus Wide

  1. Seems very poorly researched.

    Paterno reported the 2001 allegations to Curley and Schultz and let them decide how to handle it. Freeh’s conclusion that Paterno was some sort of mastermind in a coverup is ridiculous.

    Curley and Schultz told Spanier and the university lawyer. They also told Second Mile officials and their lawyer. Second Mile employed Sandusky and supplied him with the boys he abused.

    It seems clear that Second Mile assured Penn State they would investigate and deal with Sandusky appropriately. Unfortunately, Second Mile did nothing.

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  2. I would add to what Mr. Poole said.

    You said, “Since investigators found evidence that head football coach Joe Paterno persuaded university officials not to report any of the rapes to outside law enforcement, he was fired.”

    Joe Paterno was fired before Freeh’s investigation even began.

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  3. I can’t tell whether you’re a writer for your school’s newspaper or just a student with an opinion being published. If a writer on staff, I want to offer advice (which probably comes across harsher than intended) that it’s important that you fully research your topic before writing about it. I can tell that you did not read the Freeh Report (which puts you in same company as most others reporting on the situation). While I appreciate the intent of your writing (are the correct people being punished?), I was disheartened that inaccuracies attributed to the Freeh Report continue to be spread as if they were fact. You state, “Since investigators found evidence that head football coach Joe Paterno persuaded university officials not to report the rapes to outside law enforcement…” when in fact there is no such evidence.

    The actual evidence cited in the Freeh Report starts with an email from Schultz (the VP who oversaw police dept) to Tim Curley (the Athletic Director) identifying their plan forward for Curley to (1) talk with Sandusky about appropriate use of University facilities (i.e. don’t bring 2nd Mile guests into showers), (2) contact 2nd Mile, and (3) contact Dept of Welfare. Note that contacting non-local jurisdiction law enforcement was not part of the plan (rightly or wrongly). The next day there is an email from Tim Curley to Spanier (president) and Schultz which states, “After giving it more thought and talking it over with Joe yesterday – I am uncomfortable with what we agreed were the next steps. I am having trouble going to everyone, but the person involved.” Curley then lays out a plan where he first sits down with Sandusky and tells him what he’s heard and why he thinks it’s inappropriate (exactly what it was that they heard is subject of upcoming trials … Curley says it was horseplay/wrestling in shower which is what he talked about with Sandusky (again, rightly or wrongly)). Curley then goes on to say that he’d tell Sandusky not to bring kids into showers and to tell him “We feel a responsibility … to inform his organization (2nd Mile) and maybe the other one (Dept of Child Welfare)”. Curley ends his email with “I need some help on this one. What do you think about this approach?”.

    That’s the sum total of “evidence” of Joe Paterno masterminding a cover-up. About the only thing that changed in the plan after Curley talked to Paterno (and then Curley thought about the whole thing overnight) was that Curley wanted to tell Sandusky what they’d heard and why it was wrong (as opposed to only telling him not to bring kids into showers) and telling Dept of Welfare became a “maybe”. What we don’t know is anything about Curley’s conversation with Paterno — did Paterno agree? Did he disagree? There are examples cited in Freeh Report where Curley did not do what Paterno recommended (like Paterno recommending years before that they not allow 2nd Mile kids in football facilities in the first place — oh, if they had only heeded Paterno’s advice back then). Did they even talk about Dept of Welfare aspect or did Curley only ask Paterno for advice on how to go about talking to Sandusky? The answer is WE DON’T KNOW and neither does Freeh because his investigators didn’t speak to Paterno, Schultz, Curley, Sandusky, McQuery, 2nd Mile, and the host of other key witnesses because of the pending trials (although why they didn’t speak to Paterno escapes me since The Washington Post, his biographer, and many others did speak with Paterno and Freeh acknowledged that Paterno wanted to speak to his investigators).

    Given that, I’m sure you can understand why some of us get upset by continued misrepresentation that Paterno told them to cover it up. Your initial statement of “fact” is the perfect example. I’m not a Paterno apologist — I’m just someone who thoroughly read the Freeh Report prior to reading any media coverage. For me, what this all boils down to for Penn State is whether there was a heinous, despicable cover-up or whether it was a (heartbreaking) human mistake resulting from the blindness that child predators are able to create in those around them. Hopefully, we’ll get more answers in January during the Curley/Schultz perjury trials. Until then, the jury is still out … literally.

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  4. Informed Reader // September 13, 2012 at 9:10 am //

    Before writing an article you should do your research and check your facts versus regurgitating the popular media spin. You clearly haven’t read the Freeh report or any of the other documents related to the case. There is no evidence that Paterno, as you write, “persuaded university officials not to report any of the rapes to outside law enforcement.” Much to the contrary Joe Paterno reported that which was reported to him to the head of the University Park police, Gary Schultz. (Of special note: “rape” was not reported to Paterno by Mike McQueary.) In addition to the University Park police, the State College police, State College DA’s office and PA Child Welfare investigated the Sandusky at that time and none of those organizations found evidence enough to charge him with a crime.
    I could go on with much more detail and fact but I encourage you to do so. It’s the responsible thing to do.

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