Paterno family, others react to Penn State punishment
July 24, 2012 2:00 AM
Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press
Beaver Stadium, home of the Penn State Nittany Lions football team.
Statement by the Paterno family in response to the NCAA sanctions:
Sexual abuse is reprehensible, especially when it involves children, and no one starting with Joe Paterno condones or minimizes it. The horrific acts committed by Jerry Sandusky shock the conscience of every decent human being. How Sandusky was able to get away with his crimes for so long has yet to be fully understood, despite the claims and assertions of the Freeh report.
The release of the Freeh report has triggered an avalanche of vitriol, condemnation and posthumous punishment on Joe Paterno. The NCAA has now become the latest party to accept the report as the final word on the Sandusky scandal. The sanctions announced by the NCAA today defame the legacy and contributions of a great coach and educator without any input from our family or those who knew him best.
That the President, the Athletic Director and the Board of Trustees accepted this unprecedented action by the NCAA without requiring a full due process hearing before the Committee on Infractions is an abdication of their responsibilities and a breach of their fiduciary duties to the University and the 500,000 alumni. Punishing past, present and future students of the University because of Sandusky's crimes does not serve justice. This is not a fair or thoughtful action; it is a panicked response to the public's understandable revulsion at what Sandusky did.
The point of due process is to protect against this sort of reflexive action. Joe Paterno was never interviewed by the University or the Freeh Group. His counsel has not been able to interview key witnesses as they are represented by counsel related to ongoing litigation. We have had no access to the records reviewed by the Freeh group. The NCAA never contacted our family or our legal counsel. And the fact that several parties have pending trials that could produce evidence and testimony relevant to this matter has been totally discounted.
Unfortunately all of these facts have been ignored by the NCAA, the Freeh Group and the University.
Statement by Gov. Tom Corbett on the NCAA penalties::
"The appalling actions of a few people have brought us once again into the national spotlight. We have taken a monster off the streets and while we will never be able to repair the injury done to these children, we must repair the damage to this university.
"Part of that corrective process is to accept the serious penalties imposed today by the NCAA on Penn State University and its football program.
"However, as governor, I am grateful that the NCAA did not impose the 'death penalty,' which would have also had a severe detrimental impact on the citizens of State College, Centre County and the entire Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
"I also want assurance from Penn State that no taxpayer dollars will be used to pay the $60 million fine imposed on the university today.
"Penn State is more than football -- it is a world-class university, providing an outstanding education to our young people in a variety of areas from scientific research and engineering, to the arts and humanities.
"I am confident that the university will move forward from this experience, complete the healing process and once again be worthy of its great reputation."
Statement from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni::
"Penn State does not need the NCAA to issue sanctions regarding the Sandusky scandal; Penn State needs its trustees to step up and address the egregious actions themselves. Not only do the sanctions undermine the board, but they unduly punish innocent students and athletes who had no part in the tragedy or ensuing cover-up. Said ACTA president Anne Neal: 'Rather than injecting itself into an area where it has no real legal authority, the NCAA should realize that its president-centric world view is part of the problem and leave the matter to the board of trustees.'
"Boards at universities across the nation need to take a long, hard look at their own governance procedures and their policies on athletics."
Reaction to NCAA sanctions on Penn State via Twitter:
Former Penn State defensive back Adam Taliaferro: "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?!?"
Penn State wrestling coach Cael Sanderson: "Penn State is much bigger than the actions of a few. Take medicine. March forward."
Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley: "No matter what yall think of the penn st sanctions, lets all remember whats MOST important here; which is 2 think about the victims..."
Reaction via Twitter from high school football recruits:
Dorian Johnson, OL, Belle Vernon HS (@DorianJ64): "If you plan on
calling me/texting me about this today...STILL NO COMMENT"
Ross Douglas, DB, Avon (Ohio) HS (@RDPSU_21): "One of the roughest
days of my life and it just started." (Note: Douglas has reportedly decommitted from PSU today.)
Adam Breneman, TE, Cedar Cliff HS (@AdamBreneman87): "We will not be
making any comments regarding Penn State or Adam's recruitment at this
time. Thank you. -Brian Breneman"
Garrett Sickels, DE, Red Bank (N.J) Regional HS (@GarrettSickels): "#unfair"
Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship statement on NCAA sanctions:
Today, by enabling yet another knee-jerk reaction -- this time by the NCAA -- the Penn State Board of Trustees has egregiously failed every single one of its constituents. It is beyond comprehension how the NCAA can possibly believe it has the power to control events that do not violate NCAA rules, nor how the NCAA can issue punishment without ever even launching an investigation in accordance with their own rules. What's unprecedented is the NCAA basing its conclusions on a report -- the Freeh Report -- which on even a cursory review, the legal counsel of Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship has determined is fraught with factual and legal errors, filled with opinions and unsupported conclusions, and, in a word, faulty. Coach Paterno was never interviewed for the Report, and the two University employees charged with crimes have not had their day in court. To rely upon such a report to issue punishment is beyond reckless, and should not be supported in any way by the leadership of Penn State. By agreeing to these sanctions, every single member of the Penn State Board of Trustees has blatantly failed in their fiduciary responsibilities to the University. With each passing hour, we are gaining additional alumni support in our demand to have them resign immediately. -- Maribeth Roman Schmidt, Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship
An excerpt from former Penn State linebacker LaVar Arrington's blog on the Washington Post web site:
There was a failure by individuals in powerful positions at the school, and it has impacted everyone from Penn State, including those who played on its football team. We shoulder those mistakes because we must; it's the right way. We didn't make this mess, but we can now start to fix it.
Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, at the conference's media day:
The one piece that I was surprised at was the magnitude of the fine. And I'd like to hear a little bit more about how that number was derived. I don't know that it is absolutely clear on what basis this becomes an NCAA issue. Having said that, there are certainly elements of our constitution and bylaws that go right to the heart of ethics, and clearly there are some ethical issues here.
I think perhaps the lesson that will be taken away from it is that things can get pretty far afield when there are people running the show that don't ever get frank feedback and don't ever have anybody push back against them in terms of re-centering their decision processes.
Former Big 12 interim commissioner Chuck Neinas:
It certainly is a landmark move, a landmark decision to do this. What (the NCAA is) saying is football became too important to the university. It's changed the image of Penn State University which was always considered one of the finest universities. Graham Spanier as president had an outstanding reputation among his peers. Of course those of us who know Joe Paterno are both shocked, embarrassed and saddened ... It's a shameful experience, and one Penn State will never overcome.
Oklahoma Coach Bob Stoops:
The whole situation is just incredibly tragic. That's the only way I can describe the whole thing. ....I don't know all the facts. I'm not one to judge. But in every way, in every way possible, children should always be protected by adults. And that's all I would say about it.