Sparse PSU campus absorbs findings



UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- In the hours after the Freeh Report was released Thursday, people trickled past the statue of Joe Paterno outside Beaver Stadium on Penn State's campus.

There was no mass gathering or vigil, but a security guard was present, just in case.

One visitor, a 1992 Penn State graduate, had come back for football games but never took the time to look at the statue of the former Nittany Lions coach. News Thursday compelled her to visit.

Mood at Penn State after Freeh report is released

Post-Gazette reporter Sam Werner reports from Penn State on the release of the Freeh report. (Video by Andrew Rush; 7/6/2012)

"I feel like I had to come and look him in the eye and think, 'How could you do this to kids? How could you do this to us?' " said the woman, who only gave her first name, Pam.

There have been several calls to remove the statue, which previously has served as a rallying point and memorial spot for Paterno, who died in January of lung cancer.

With most of the students away on summer break, the overall response on campus was somewhat tepid.

PG VIDEO

A handful of students watched former FBI director Louis Freeh's news conference on a projector television in the university's HUB-Robeson Center.

"Because it's summer session, obviously there aren't too many people here," Penn State senior Maddy Pryor said. "Not too many people have been talking about it, but it's been all over social media, Facebook, Twitter."

Pryor was one of just four students in front of the TV around 8:45 a.m., 15 minutes before the report was released. More trickled in before and during Freeh's 10 a.m. news conference, and by 11 a.m., about 30 students were watching.

At 9 a.m., right when the report was released, the TVs switched from CNN -- seemingly prepared to discuss the report -- to the Pennsylvania Cable Network, which was airing a state budget meeting from Allentown. PCN did air the Freeh news conference at 10 a.m..

After students had a chance to digest the report and news conference, in which Freeh cited a "total disregard for the safety and welfare" of children who were sexually abused by former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, students expressed disappointment in the report's findings.

Freshman Katie Wismer said the most upsetting part of the report was its condemnation of Paterno.

Wismer and freshman Jessica Knoll were in HUB-Robeson Center to work on a school project but were distracted by Freeh's news conference. When Knoll heard the news, she called her father, a longtime Penn State fan, and struggled to hold back tears.

"I was just really upset because, throughout this whole thing, I really believed in Joe Paterno, I guess you could say," Knoll said. "I thought he did everything he could, but the report proved me wrong."

Still, other students defended Paterno and thought the blame should be spread among the other administrators, namely former university president Graham Spanier, former athletic director Tim Curley and retired vice president Gary Schultz.

"I keep hearing Paterno's name more than I hear Curley, Spanier, all those guys," senior Michael Corbacio said. "I don't hear their names, I don't see their pictures. Every time you see the Sandusky thing, it's a picture of him, then Paterno."

Some students did express relief that the report is finally out, shedding light on the inner workings of a scandal that has engulfed the university for the past eight months.

Pryor and Corbacio said they plan to read the entire 267-page report.

"If you're going to make an argument about something, you've got to be informed," Pryor said. "Even if I send out a single tweet about this thing, I want to be informed about it."

After Freeh's news conference ended, students dispersed to go to class or return to their dorm rooms. The prevailing sentiment was sadness, rather than the anger displayed after Paterno was fired in November.

"We're really just trying to heal the wound, but it seems like it just keeps reopening," Knoll said. "We dealt with the scandal, then [Sandusky's] trial. It just keeps coming back and it feels like it's never going to go away."

state - psusports

Sam Werner: swerner@post-gazette.com and Twitter @SWernerPG. First Published July 13, 2012 4:00 AM


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