Local Penn State alums question sanctions, don't excuse cover-up

Laura Lovins, a Penn State University sophomore from State College, Pa., center, reacts while listening to a television in the HUB on the Penn State University main campus in State College, Pa., as the NCAA sanctions against the Penn State University football program are announced Monday, July 23, 2012.  (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Photo by Gene J. Puskar

Laura Lovins, a Penn State University sophomore from State College, Pa., center, reacts while listening to a television in the HUB on the Penn State University main campus in State College, Pa., as the NCAA sanctions against the Penn State University football program are announced Monday, July 23, 2012. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

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Penn State coach Joe Paterno (AP Photo/Al Goldis)

Photo by Al Goldis

Penn State coach Joe Paterno (AP Photo/Al Goldis)

Barry Fagan grew up in State College, Penn. He played football there. He still has his mother, two brothers and two sisters there.

Fagan knows how Penn State football is a blue-and-white lifeblood that runs through Happy Valley. And he knows how Monday's punishments from the NCAA, handed down in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, will cripple not only an athletics department, but a community as well.

"It's not just going to hurt Penn State," said Fagan, a North Naples resident and former Ave Maria football coach. "It's going to rock State College. I just think it's overkill."

Local Penn State alumni made no excuses for the actions that led to Monday's devastating sanctions, but they questioned how and why the NCAA put the school's football program on life support, calling the $60 million fine, four-year bowl ban and other punishments excessive and ill-advised. While decrying Sandusky's sexual abuse of 10 boys and, in some cases, the alleged cover-up by coach Joe Paterno and administrators, several alumni said the NCAA overstepped its bounds.

"I don't think the NCAA should have been involved," said Fagan, who played for Paterno in the mid-1970s. "I think they saw the political pressure and thought they had to."

The unprecedented sanctions will set back one of college football's most storied programs, likely banishing it to years of irrelevancy. In addition to the fine and bowl ban, the football program will lose 20 scholarships a year for four years, current and incoming players will be allowed to transfer without losing a year of eligibility and Penn State will vacate 111 wins between 1998 and 2011.

"Football will never again be placed ahead of educating, nurturing and protecting young people," NCAA President Mark Emmert declared in announcing the penalties.

The NCAA's decision comes one month after Sandusky, a former Penn State defensive coordinator, was convicted of sexually abusing 10 boys, and one week after an investigation commissioned by the school, known as the Freeh Report, found Paterno and three other administrators hid accusations against Sandusky to protect Penn State from negative publicity.

Richard Achilles, president of the Penn State Alumni Association's Fort Myers chapter, said he didn't excuse Sandusky's actions, but questioned the reliability of the school's investigation.

Achilles noted three top administrators and others tied to the school weren't interviewed for the Freeh Report, often on legal advice. Two former administrators face perjury charges, and the Freeh report alleges a third, former school president Graham Spanier, helped conceal sex abuse accusations against Sandusky. Paterno wasn't interviewed and died of cancer in January.

"There's some commentary in the Freeh report that asserts (Paterno's) complicity in this cover-up, but it's rather vague and it's more assertion than fact," Achilles, 72, said. "They interviewed 430 people, and of the 430 people, none that they interviewed were at the top of the food chain."

To Achilles, the NCAA should have stayed out of the Sandusky scandal because the abuse and alleged cover-up didn't give Penn State's football team an athletic advantage — which would have given the NCAA jurisdiction, he said.

"This seems to me to be more of a legal matter, a criminal matter perhaps, rather than having to do with competition," Achilles said.

Eugene von Arx, an alumnus and former assistant professor at Penn State, struggled Monday with what would have been a fair punishment from the NCAA.

"Certainly I don't approve of what was going on. I find it difficult to live with that," said von Arx, 91, of North Naples. "They had to do something. I'm not sure that the amount wasn't a little bit on the high side, but who am I to know about these kinds of things."

For Fort Myers resident Nancy Walters, who graduated from Penn State in 1954, the NCAA's decision further tarnishes the legacy of Paterno, who she still supports. Walters said she was "very disgusted" with the sanctions and sympathized for the program's players and coaches, but she conceded that punitive actions were necessary.

"I can understand their reasoning to a degree," Walters said, "but I cannot agree with it 100 percent."

© 2012 Naples Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 36

CarpeVeritas writes:

Football brings millions a year to US universities; the better the team, the more money.

It's big business. To ensure nothing jeopardized the money stream, the Penn State football program condoned child rape.

How can the penalties be too harsh? Greed and power and influence corrupts even the pristine field of "amateur" sports.

laneshad writes:

What is the NCAA going to do with this $60 million windfall? My guess is fatten up executives compensation. The NCAA is a moral dinosaur that should be disbanded and save the colleges money. The lawyers alone will punish Penn State and any other college that steps out of line.

beerbong writes:

Just shows the false importance that some people have put on college athletics. And what some will do to protect it. I have heard NONE of the top cats say anything about the young people who were hurt. One paper says Penn State 'tragedy' saddens coaches
I don't think it saddens them, it scares them. because it puts their high dollar jobs and their god like status in jeopardy. Look at Bobby Bowden. He is sad for football too. Remorse for the players, None. Would he have said anything? Who knows. If you have the cash I bet you could get a real deal on a four year education at Penn State this morning.

tiseye writes:

Right on laneshad. The $60 million will come from the taxpayers of Pennsylvania since it's a state university so taxes may need to go up OR other programs that are state funded will be cut. These monies NEED to stay within Pennsylvania and not be doled out to programs in the other 49 states. And, it will be eaten up by salaries to those administering the funds. Otherwise, I agree with the sanctions.

marti43 writes:

In my opinion, this is a criminal matter. If there was a coverup then prosecute the perpetrators. If that isn't enough or successful, then file a lawsuit. The current or future players at PSU had absolutely nothing to do with the scandal.

Gifted1 writes:

Joe was going to take this to his grave without telling a soul. Makes you wonder what He and other coaches around the country have seen, and are sitting on and do not have the integrity to discuss.
The arrogant Paterno family needs to keep it's mouth shut. There is no legacy left worth protecting with faceless "comments" that are slanted to protect the peoples memory of Joe.

Boharary writes:

in response to laneshad:

What is the NCAA going to do with this $60 million windfall? My guess is fatten up executives compensation. The NCAA is a moral dinosaur that should be disbanded and save the colleges money. The lawyers alone will punish Penn State and any other college that steps out of line.

The 60 million is going into a trust fund, and then going to a program for abused kids.

Boharary writes:

How did the NCAA not have the right to step in when for years they covered it up to protect "THEIR GOOD NAME". Which protecting their good name and "LEGACY" gave them an advantage in recruiting these athletes over their rival schools.

Beachtowel writes:

Should have been a 200 million dollar fine along with 3 years of no football being played.

GUNNER36 writes:

Punishiment is misguided and far to harsh. The people involved with the cover up need to be criminally prosecuted, not the students. The college did no harm,the people that ran it are guilty. The football program did no wrong, the cover up people did the wrong. The NCAA used a shotgun approach rather than a pistol. Terrible judgement go after the people involved that are guilty

SeeFuture writes:

This--the ignoring of ongoing sexual assaults of children--must be terribly embarrassing for all of you alums. Let's hope the future is brighter, and the people you hire are better.

ex31539er writes:

The Freeh report is quite reliable, notwithstanding alumni statements to the contrary.

Freeh discovered several theretofore unknown emails among the four top Penn State administrators to evidence his critical conclusions: 1) Paterno knew what was going on and 2) PSU's trustees lacked "institutional control" over its football program.

Except that the subject matter (sexual abuse of defenseless boys) is not a traditional NCAA matter, everything else about this sorry case, the coverups, the withholding of information, the win-at-all-cost mentality, is precisely what lands colleges in NCAA "death penalty" land.

Argument surely can be made that looking the other way when your athletic facilities are used to lure young boys into rape and abuse is far, far worse than looking the other way when a supporter buys talented football players.

Penn State University alums should be quite grateful Emmert and the NCAA didn't simply execute Nittany Lions' athletics altogether.

How would the "death penalty" have "rocked State College?"

puravida9 writes:

Too much importance placed on football instead of the things that really matter.

pittgirl writes:

Can anyone please explain why Montrelle from Haiti is bible thumbing on this blog????

pittgirl writes:

in response to pittgirl:

Can anyone please explain why Montrelle from Haiti is bible thumbing on this blog????

Sorry, I meant bible thumping..

sylindersam writes:

I know many PSU alums, most of whom are still very involved with PSU and some are friends with Trustees who are conversing openly about this. They are ashamed but haven't got thru how they feel because they say it isn't over yet. PSU wants to get clear of their limited part in this of providing the venue and culture. 2nd Mile, Sandusky's charity, involved many rich powerful folks steeped in PA politics and contributed $600k+ to Gov Corbett's election campaign. Their fears are that the Gov as Attorney General is as culpable as JoePa, Spanier and the rest. They also suspect foul play in Ray Gricar's disappearance and possible connection to his investigation.

Gifted1 writes:

in response to sylindersam:

I know many PSU alums, most of whom are still very involved with PSU and some are friends with Trustees who are conversing openly about this. They are ashamed but haven't got thru how they feel because they say it isn't over yet. PSU wants to get clear of their limited part in this of providing the venue and culture. 2nd Mile, Sandusky's charity, involved many rich powerful folks steeped in PA politics and contributed $600k+ to Gov Corbett's election campaign. Their fears are that the Gov as Attorney General is as culpable as JoePa, Spanier and the rest. They also suspect foul play in Ray Gricar's disappearance and possible connection to his investigation.

Your quote:
PSU wants to get clear of their limited part in this of providing the venue and culture.

Are you kidding me?
Limited part?
PSU's part was a systemic failure from the President, to the AD to the most heralded coach in America. There were the ACTS and the PSU brain trust who covered up those ACTS. There is no " limited part" or party. Include other organizations or deflect PSU blame as much as you would like, but PSU administration was integral to these offenses and that is why the penalty is so severe to the universe directly, while some say not severe enough. Students who happen to be athletes from the past, present and in the future need to be affected.
As much as supporters dislike it.
THAT IS HOW PUNISHMENT WORKS

pittraul writes:

in response to tiseye:

Right on laneshad. The $60 million will come from the taxpayers of Pennsylvania since it's a state university so taxes may need to go up OR other programs that are state funded will be cut. These monies NEED to stay within Pennsylvania and not be doled out to programs in the other 49 states. And, it will be eaten up by salaries to those administering the funds. Otherwise, I agree with the sanctions.

tiseye, 60 million is approx. the one year revenue made by the PSU football program. Tickets,concessions,etc. The NCAA has already stated that the fine will go directly to child abuse awareness, not NCAA admin. cost.
In comparison to the gravity of Sandusky’s crime & what the school will have to pay in civil court to the 10 victims the NCAA fine is a drop in the bucket. Is it your position that since it may hurt Pennsylvania tax payers the victims should not be granted restitution?

pittraul writes:

in response to GUNNER36:

Punishiment is misguided and far to harsh. The people involved with the cover up need to be criminally prosecuted, not the students. The college did no harm,the people that ran it are guilty. The football program did no wrong, the cover up people did the wrong. The NCAA used a shotgun approach rather than a pistol. Terrible judgement go after the people involved that are guilty

gunner36, you just don't get it! Do you? PSU from the top to the bottom of the football program looked the other way & concealed the crimes of a pedophile for 14yrs. As early as 1998 Paterno & PSU administration concealed reports to protect the Football program from the potential embarrassment and fall-out of Sandusky's crimes. 10 victims had nobody to defend them or protect them against a sexual predator, while PSU officials protected the program and Sandusky’s reputation above the welfare of children.
What could be more misguided & harsher to the victims than that? Wrong or Right? The whole of PSU needs to accept the consequences & take responsibility for its leaders. Instead of making excuses about guilt, remember that when the football team won games everybody was proud to be included in the glory of being "PSU" so now the disgrace of some of you, falls on all of you. All those who cheered "We are Penn State" along with Sandusky & Paterno in Victory, may not be guilty of the crime but you all need to be held just as accountable... especially now in Disgrace

felipe writes:

the powers to be kept this hushed up and by doing so , they got to recruit players that would have never of gone there if they knew what was going on , so yes the football team did win games because of the secrets that PATERNO knew that he kept hushed up of the horrible crimes that were committed against these young men !!! 60 million dollars is a drop in the bucket , thats 1 years gate intake of the football season , so look at how much money they made in all the years that PATERNO knew about this and did nothing !!! i would have banded them forever , after all colleges are suppose to be education above everything else and at PENN STATE it is obvious that football came first !!!

straighttalkinnaples writes:

Most people appreciate the obvious angst the NCAA penalties are causing current Penn State students, football players and alumni.

However, the penalities are aimed not at them personally, but at an institution that allowed the sexual abuse of children for over a decade, while engaging in a conspiracy of silence to protect both careers and the instituion.

Those who kept silent will be judged in a court of law, and they will be held personally accountable, including the loss of career and personal legacies.

Just as important, the institution of Penn State is being held accountable by the NCAA sanctions and court of public opinion. Both are necessary to ensure this school along with others understand the consequences of putting institutional interests over the welfare of innocents, thereby compromising the values, mission, and reason for existence of the institution.

Part of these consequences include less student enrollment, loss of athletic revenue, and indeterminite loss of prestige, integrity and reputation. All of which will have to be earned back in the future, but only if Penn State makes every effort to regain the public trust through their actions and deeds.

I guess we'll see which path the institution takes in its rehabilitation.

beachykeen writes:

Wow, there are some thoughtful posts on this thread. I can't say it any better than carpe veritas, beerbong, ex35139er, straighttalkinnaples, etc.

Right on, dudes. There is no justifying what Penn State covered up. Not at all.

pittgirl writes:

I am as horrified and angered by the Sandusky scandal as anyone inside or outside the university. The NCAA penalties are what they are; PSU President Erickson accepts them without appeal. Done! The full impact of the penalties will ripple through the university and its athletic programs for years. The stain of the scandal will never be removed. Joe Paterno will now be remembered for what he did TO Penn State, not for what he did FOR Penn State. Yes, today's innocents will be impacted by the university's revenue shortfall, but far from the suffering of the innocents by the pedophile and his enablers.

Penn State has an outstanding reputation in many fields of research, education, science, technology, engineering, mathematics, etc., but most folks first identify Penn State with football. Right or wrong, the reestablishment of the Penn State reputation and tradition of "Success with Honor" will be borne by the kids in the generic PSU uniforms on the fields of Big 10 football, kids playing without the goal of a Big 10 Championship or a bowl game. None of them have any involvement in the sordid scandal that now stains their university, So they'll be playing for pride as well as the education provided, but not the glory of championships and bowl games.

New head football coach Bill O'Brien signed a five-year contract knowing that he faced the biggest challenges of a new coach in the history of college football. In little more than a month he'll coach his first game under the glare of a national spotlight that is, as are the NCAA penalties, "unprecedented." It's more than a football game ~~ it's the first-step in restoring Penn State Pride!

Sandusky has been found guilty and awaits sentencing. Joe Paterno is being judged by higher authorities. Spanier, Curley and Schultz await their trials. The NCAA and the Big 10 have rendered judgment and penalties. Penn State now stands at the bottom of the trough of public opinion, brought down by an "old boy network" and the football program. Oddly enough, the rise from the trough's bottom to public respectability will lie mostly on the shoulders of the new football program, and the innocents who are now answering for the crimes of others.

I think the team and coaches will be more than equal to the task along with current and future undergrads, the administration and faculty, will support and reinforce all efforts to restore PENN STATE PRIDE!!!

drgirl writes:

in response to laneshad:

What is the NCAA going to do with this $60 million windfall? My guess is fatten up executives compensation. The NCAA is a moral dinosaur that should be disbanded and save the colleges money. The lawyers alone will punish Penn State and any other college that steps out of line.

All the money goes to a fund for victims of sexual abuse. Clearly stated.

drgirl writes:

in response to tiseye:

Right on laneshad. The $60 million will come from the taxpayers of Pennsylvania since it's a state university so taxes may need to go up OR other programs that are state funded will be cut. These monies NEED to stay within Pennsylvania and not be doled out to programs in the other 49 states. And, it will be eaten up by salaries to those administering the funds. Otherwise, I agree with the sanctions.

Administrator compensation will be public record and won't make a dent in $60 million. The IRS will require the fund to annually distribute at least 5% of the three-year rolling average of the fund.

paul_vincent_zecchino writes:

This is a shakedown, plain and simple. It will hurt many innocent people and fund who knows what.

Nice job on the 'report', written by the same guy who reported that when aircraft run out of fuel, they blow up.

Nice job indeed. He confined the margins of blame to those already named, assigning the maximum blame to the individual with the highest profile.

This nicely protected the pedophiles who donate large amounts, and who are too big to be inconvenienced by mundane things such as legal consequences for their heinous actions.

Look for more of this. It's a way of 'recovering the wealth of nations', the design outlined a century ago by Cecil Rhodes, who loved to travel the mid-east in company of a young boy.

Paul Vincent Zecchino
Manasota Key, Florida
24 July, 2012

drgirl writes:

Penn State and its supporters should be so thankful to be given a second chance. If ever there was a case to shut down an NCAA football program altogether, this is it. Businesses go under all the time because their leadership is inept or corrupt, why not a football program? PSU could still have all the education they ever had, they could have all the other athletic opportunities they ever had; they could even have football as a "club sport" for those who really just love to play the game. The fact that they can already start planning for the day when they are a fully eligible NCAA program is almost unbelievable. I see the current situation as merciful, humane, and hope-filled.

drgirl writes:

in response to paul_vincent_zecchino:

This is a shakedown, plain and simple. It will hurt many innocent people and fund who knows what.

Nice job on the 'report', written by the same guy who reported that when aircraft run out of fuel, they blow up.

Nice job indeed. He confined the margins of blame to those already named, assigning the maximum blame to the individual with the highest profile.

This nicely protected the pedophiles who donate large amounts, and who are too big to be inconvenienced by mundane things such as legal consequences for their heinous actions.

Look for more of this. It's a way of 'recovering the wealth of nations', the design outlined a century ago by Cecil Rhodes, who loved to travel the mid-east in company of a young boy.

Paul Vincent Zecchino
Manasota Key, Florida
24 July, 2012

A "shakedown?" Seriously? And you believe that this is some conspiracy to hide wealthy pedophiles? Incredulous.

tacoloco writes:

SMU paid players under the table and an entire season was canceled, doesn't seem like the NCAA went far enough...

Jarvis (Inactive) writes:

How many teenage boys did Saint JoePa blow? He was an egomaniac who managed to turn an unknown school into a national powerhouse, and he clearly abused his power with impunity, and arrogance. He should have been exposed in 1998, and he should have gone to prison with the other pedophile, Sandusky.

Guaranteed, JoePa was into this more than just the cover-up.

numiclassic26 writes:

in response to beachykeen:

Wow, there are some thoughtful posts on this thread. I can't say it any better than carpe veritas, beerbong, ex35139er, straighttalkinnaples, etc.

Right on, dudes. There is no justifying what Penn State covered up. Not at all.

I totally agree....excellent posts!

reallifeswfla writes:

Hey Montrelle, why don't you focus on your own country's problems than worrying about ours. Haiti is loaded with corruption, crime and brutal poverty that you can rail against.
Save us from your diatribe.

Despite all the deniers, the penalty against Penn State is more than fair.
The NCAA could have been much harsher.
Lots of good posts here.
A few deniers, but in the end there will be no appeal.
It's all over except the crying.
Today they knocked down the Paterno monument, tomorrow they will bulldoze the Sandusky showers.
ESPN announces that Governor Corbitt is under the magnifying glass now and may be next.
There is a lot of blame to go around and this investigation is far from over.
Stay tuned.

volochine writes:

I'm just waiting for the first gay guy/girl who was outed and fired in the Penn State regime, yet they covered up a child rapist for 14 years.

Bigdealitis....Worst disease of all time.

Makes you think your s*** doesn't smell.

Gifted1 writes:

in response to montrelle:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Think Bigger! There is no God. Evolution is a wonderful time tested truism. However, more advanced for some than others such as yourself.

Jarvis (Inactive) writes:

Now they can change his nickname to TAILGUNNER JOE!

sylindersam writes:

in response to Gifted1:

Your quote:
PSU wants to get clear of their limited part in this of providing the venue and culture.

Are you kidding me?
Limited part?
PSU's part was a systemic failure from the President, to the AD to the most heralded coach in America. There were the ACTS and the PSU brain trust who covered up those ACTS. There is no " limited part" or party. Include other organizations or deflect PSU blame as much as you would like, but PSU administration was integral to these offenses and that is why the penalty is so severe to the universe directly, while some say not severe enough. Students who happen to be athletes from the past, present and in the future need to be affected.
As much as supporters dislike it.
THAT IS HOW PUNISHMENT WORKS

Did you read my post or are you just s-----? You think this is over and PSU will simply be layed low for a decade and the rest of America gets a pass? You don't fix bed rock systemic cultural problems by making examples of the ones who own up to it. Where's your indignation over priests buggering little boys for millenia? While you might considering it spitting hairs, what happened in this case while no less heinous and deserving of punishment, pales in magnitude. I am sad for PSU and adherants. Their culture, which you disparage is ubiquitous, was admired and emulated for its results with the exception of this.

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