At a press conference afterward, Penn State Lettermen who played for Paterno gave the board their own prescription for moving forward:
* A formal apology to legendary former head football coach Joe Paterno‘s family for his firing-by-telephone days after Sandusky’s arrest.
* Restoration of the monument outside Beaver Stadium that paid tribute to Paterno’s teams. The concrete wall was removed with Paterno’s statue last July, causing deep hurt to many of the players from Penn State’s most successful teams and their fans.
* Joining the pushback, currently led by Gov. Tom Corbett, against the four-year program of NCAA sanctions against Penn State football, a regime of penalties that the letterman said are unfairly punishing players, students and fans who had nothing to do with Sandusky.
They also seconded trustee Anthony Lubrano’s request for a board meeting with former FBI Director Louis Freeh, so that members at large can have their first opportunity to confront him with their questions.
Board members gave no indication that they are ready to act on those demands Friday – to date, only a small minority have expressed public misgivings about Freeh’s findings that Penn State’s top administrators and Paterno – gave cover for Sandusky in 2001.
Sandusky, Paterno’s longtime defensive coordinator, was convicted last year of sexually abusing 10 boys between 1994 and 2008. He has been sentenced to a minimum of 30 years in state prison.
The university, meanwhile, is now trying to negotiate civil settlements with 30 men who claim they were abused by Sandusky over the last 35 years.
Freeh’s findings have largely been echoed in a statewide grand jury presentment last fall that resulted in criminal obstruction of justice, child endangerment and other charges against former Penn State President Graham Spanier and two of his top administrators. (However, Paterno was not implicated in this presentment).
For the first time several trustees actually engaged in a direct discussion about Freeh’s findings, with Lubrano reiterating his concerns and Ken Frazier, chair of the special committee that hired Freeh, defending the report.
And after the meeting, Trustees Chairman Keith Masser said that he felt the board’s legal committee, where Frazier touched off this week’s Freeh discussion Thursday, has an obligation to consider Lubrano’s request.
“Whether it comes out of the committee (with a positive recommendation) is another question,” said Masser, who also sits on the Legal Committee. “But we can make sure that it gets addressed.”
Masser declined to offer his own opinion on whether the board should revisiting the reports. “It’s not appropriate for us to pre-empt committee discussion,” he said Friday.
The lettermen who set the tone for the public comment period, however, said afterward that in their mind, this is the only path back to respectability for this board after, in their view, betraying Paterno and Penn State for 16 months.
“They have an opportunity for a second chance… because a new viewpoint of what happened at Penn State with Jerry Sandusky has come out,” through the Paterno-financed critique of the Freeh Report authored by former Gov. Dick Thornburgh, said former player Tom Donchez, now of Bethlehem.
“Let’s see what they do. Let’s see if they come out and do something for this university.”
The players said they are not worried that their continuing crusade against the Freeh report and the NCAA sanctions effectively validates concerns cited by NCAA President Mark Emmert and others that Penn State does have a football-first culture.
That’s because, they said, any fair examination of the record shows that Paterno himself was so much more than football.
Mickey Shuler, an East Pennsboro High School star who played for Paterno, noted the coach’s role in elevating the entire university through his fundraising, demands on the trustees and expectations of his players.
As a player, Shuler said, Paterno’s expectations were that everyone was “responsible and accountable to one another, the team and most importantly, the university… representing that university in a positive light everywhere you go.
“And that concept,” added Shuler, who now lives in Marysville, “just became contagious… His was an example that the whole university, I think, feels they have to live up to his expectations.”
Statement by former Attorney General Dick Thornburgh
March 15, 2013
When we released our review of the Freeh report we were very careful not to question the motives or challenge the integrity of Mr. Freeh, his investigators or members of the Penn State Board of Trustees. Overheated rhetoric and personal attacks do nothing to advance the objective we all share of finding the truth in the Sandusky scandal.
That some members of the Board of Trustees want to reject our report out of hand, without the benefit of a review or discussion is unfortunate. We believe the better course would be for the Board to have a public review of both reports. I personally would welcome a chance to discuss these issues with the Board.
We also believe that all of the files and records related to Mr. Freeh’s investigation should be released to the public. This will make it easier for everyone to judge the accuracy and thoroughness of his work. The flaws of the Freeh report cannot be dismissed or overlooked. They are significant and numerous and must be addressed. This case will not be resolved until the record is set straight.
The trustees said the issue over how Paterno’s coaching career abruptly ended is one of the public misconceptions out there dogging them. Another, they said, is a belief that the trustees know every single detail about what’s going on at Penn State. Or, on the flipside, some think they are too far removed to know anything about what’s going on at ground zero.“Sometimes people think we’re all the way up and that we’re secluded and we don’t want to talk to people,” Deviney said. “I know at least from my perspective that’s not true. I don’t think we’d be here today if we felt that way.”Another criticism aimed at the trustees is that they did not stand up to the NCAA concerning the harsh sanctions and their impact on Penn State.“I think people didn’t think we were fighting for the university,” Suhey said. “But we were fighting for the university, honestly. Deep down, we were trying to do everything we could.”Another misconception, Suhey and Silvis said, is that folks think board members are ducking questions from the media.“I think people think that we’re hiding things or we have special information. We don’t,” Suhey said. “Everything we know is pretty much there now, too.”And Suhey said they’ve been accused of not reading the Freeh report even though they have
There is no question that they FIRED Joe Paterno, not “retire him 3 weeks early“–how stupid does Suhey think we are. There is a copy of the letter that was written by Cynthia Baldwin on the internet that clearly “fires” Joe and requests his return of all University items to the University immediately. And you don’t tear down the statue of someone who has “retired”. You take down a statue of someone who was fired in “disgrace”–and Joe never disgraced himself or the University he loved so much. The most baffling thing is that they expect us to believe their line of “crap”–This article infuriates me even more and I will make every effort to continue to replace every member of the Board of Trustees that was there in November 2011.
If the comment that Silvis made is true, that Erickson took it upon himself to agree with the NCAA without the consent of the Board of Trustees, he needs to be fired immediately. Also, due to the conflict of interest and the known effort of John Surma and his brother Vic Surma to destroy Joe Paterno (Vic Surma’s own words), John Surma needs to be fired immediately as well
Posted on March 10th, 2013 in News and Commentary
“Let me be clear – we got this wrong.”
“None of us are proud of how we handled this.”
by Bill Keisling
Penn State trustee Stephanie Nolan Deviney is up for reelection to the school’s governing Board of Trustees. On March 9, on her webpage, she responded to the following question: What was your thought process with respect to Coach Paterno?
“PLEASE NOTE: THE THOUGHTS BELOW ARE MY OWN, NOT THAT OF THE BOARD. EACH BOARD MEMBER HAS THEIR OWN REASON FOR MAKING THE DECISION. I DO NOT SPEAK FOR THEM. ALSO, I AM NOT TRYING TO LAY BLAME OR MAKE EXCUSES. I AM ONLY TRYING TO ANSWER THE QUESTIONS YOU HAVE ASKED.
“Saturday, November 5, 2011, I received an email from a fellow PSU grad at approximately 3 p.m. with a messaging along the lines of ‘I bet you never thought you signed up for this!’ There was also an email from the university scheduling a conference call. Realizing something was going on I googled ‘Penn State’. This is how I learned the news.
“I immediately searched the web and found the presentment. I read the entire thing by our 5 p.m. call. When I read the presentment my initial reaction was that we needed to determine who knew what and when. The Presentment stated that Coach Paterno had been told of activity “of a sexual nature” between Sandusky and a young boy. During our call we planned a meeting for 7 p.m. the next evening.
“When I arrived at Old Main I was given a press release that had been issued by the Paternos. I asked if the press release had been run by anyone at the university before it was issued. I was told it had not been run by the university. When the decision was made to cancel the regularly scheduled press conference, there was no agreement with this decision. Instead, the press was told to stay tuned as plans were in the works for an off campus press conference (no such conference ever took place).
“At that time it was clear that the university’s interests and Coach Paterno’s interests were not aligned. We should have been working together on this issue – the biggest crisis the university had ever faced. Rather, we were two ships not communicating with one another. I did not think these actions were in the best interests of the university. My decision to remove Coach Paterno as head coach was largely based on the events that transpired after the presentment was issued.
“The trustees had a call on Tuesday night during which time I thought we would decide what actions to take with respect to Coach Paterno and Graham Spanier. However, many trustees thought that such a decision could not be made over the phone. Rather, we needed to be face to face, to look each other in the eye, to read each other’s body language in making such a monumental decision. We agreed to make the decision on Wednesday night when we met in person.
“I could not sleep that night as the decisions weighed heavily on my mind. I did not know what other trustees were going to decide. I appreciate all this University has done for the Commonwealth. I appreciate all Joe Paterno has done for Penn State. I understood what Penn State meant to so many people. I understood the magnitude of the decisions we would make the next day. No matter what we decided, we would forever change people’s lives, Penn State, and history. This decision was left in the hands of 32 people. I was one of them.
“On Wednesday Coach Paterno announced his retirement without consulting with the university.
“By Wednesday evening none of the trustees thought that the football season could go on “business as usual” with Coach Paterno on the sidelines and in front of the press. As such, we made the decision to remove him as head coach for the remainder of the season. We did honor his contract. Yes, I have seen the letter that Cynthia Baldwin sent to him. It should not have been sent to him.
“It seems so clear now that the university and Coach Paterno should have been speaking to each other and working with each other during those five days. Looking back it seems unbelievable that neither side communicated with one another. I often think of how things might have been different if any small changes were made that week. Posnanski recently wrote that after reading the presentment, Coach Paterno’s own family told him that he might have to face the possibility of never coaching another game. Under such circumstances it saddens me that we didn’t find a way to handle this better. We both should have been working together. When we made out decision, it was around 9 p.m. at night. It has also been widely reported why we made the decision to call his home. First, there were news vans and students surrounding his home. We did not think it was appropriate to have such a message be delivered so publicly. It surely would have been caught on camera. No one would have liked that either. Second, we did not think we could wait until the morning as many details of our meetings that week were reaching the press. The last thing we wanted was for Coach Paterno to hear the news from the press. Let me be clear – we got this wrong.
“I agree 100 percent with Sue Paterno’s statement – Joe Paterno did deserve more.” (sorry, Stephanie, too little too late–where have you been for the past year and a half? Why were you and Paul Suhey not out there with McCombie and Lubrano asking the important questions?)
“Every board member has a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for all that Joe Paterno and his family did, and continue to do, for our university. He influenced and molded countless men. He and Sue were generous with their time, money, and talent. You may wonder how we could all feel this way and still remove him as head coach but as fiduciaries we had to make the decisions in the best interests of the University.”
editor note: it is my opinion that the Board of Trustees (John Surma) had a vendetta against Joe Paterno to not only fire him but to destroy his reputation, and that was the goal (not necessarily known by the general board membership).
Penn State trustee Paul Suhey admits relieving Joe Paterno of his head coaching duties in November 2011 over a late-night phone call was not the right tact. Stephanie Deviney, another trustee, is certain the whole board feels that way.“We apologize, we screwed it up as far as how we delivered the message,” Suhey said Friday in an interview. “Our decision, we’re not going to go back on. But we messed that up big time.“People are still so hurt by that, and you know, damn it, we screwed it up.”The Paterno decision will go down in the annals as the trigger of when Penn State alumni and diehard fans turned against the board, and the anger has not relented. They email the trustees, write letters — even call them out in advertisements in this newspaper. But, four trustees, in an interview with the Centre Daily Times’ editorial board, said they are committed to turning the corner, opening up and building on the progress the university has already seen in responding in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky abuse scandal. The trustees — Suhey, Deviney, board Chairman Keith Masser and Paul Silvis — said they hope the university community will meet them in the middle as part of moving forward.
Editor note: It took them a year and a half to say this?? Shame, shame, shame on them.
for more information on John Surma‘s role in destroying Joe Paterno, go to:
John P Surma, current vice chair (seved as chair the night Paterno was fired) of the Penn State Board of Trustees, and his brother, Vic Surma, Sr, may have carried out a vendetta against Joe Paterno that started in 2007 and culminated in the firing of Paterno in November of 2011.
I have been reading all the information put forth in the Freeh Report and the Paterno Family Report trying to figure out the truth in how this despicable tragedy all came about. I also have been reading information from the investigations of the authors of “Framing of Joe Paterno.”
What I know now as fact is that the Vice President of the Board of Trustees and his brother (a former PSU football player) had a personal grudge against Joe Paterno since 2007, and vowed to “expose his (Paterno’s) fraud to the national media before he checks out.”
Victor Surma Sr is quoted by Sara Ganim as her source for the “attitude of former players.” This information was also used in the Freeh Report, who relied on Ms Ganim’s accounting of events.
In 2002, Vic Surma, Sr is quoted in a book as saying, “Joe instilled in us how to win. He’s a special man, a special person. There’s nobody better in taking high school players and making them men.”
Vic Surma, Sr, ( a Pittsburgh Dentist) further writes in 2007 “The RAT (Paterno) has hurt so many young men, destroyed their self esteem, ruined their confidence, etc. I’m starting with a Pittsburgh reporter (Sara Ganim quoted in Freeh report) and hope to take his fraud national.” This is quite a change from 2002–what happened?
The person who started the implosion that put Penn State on the defensive and supported Tom Corbett‘s plan of distraction of firing Joe Paterno to take the heat off the Board of Trustees was John P Surma, younger brother of Victor Surma, Sr. and VP of the Board of Trustees.
John P Surma was responsible for the cancelling of the press conference Joe Paterno was holding to explain what he did, when, and why.
This cancellation fueled media speculation that the Board of Trustees would remove Paterno as head coach. Nothing could have had a greater impact on the public’s view of the guilt or innocence of Joe Paterno or Penn State.
We know that the attorney general used blatant lies “that Paterno was informed of a blatant sex act by McQueary–which we now know is false.
Vic Surma Sr was removed from the listserv board for former PSU football players because of his antipathy toward Paterno (demand of other players) in 2007.
According to one source, John P Surma, after cancelling Paterno’s press conference, made it clear that it was his intention to have Paterno fired so the board would finally show Joe who was “really in charge.”
Evidence shows that John P Surma’s antipathy toward Joe became obvious around 2007 after Vic Surma, Jr. left the team and Vic Sr went online to rant against Paterno.
Not long after Vic Surma, Sr started his online attack of Paterno, Tom Corbett began his “slow” investigation into Sandusky and John P Surma came to prominent power over the Trustees.
Vic Surma Jr was a walk on wideout receiver on PSU football team from 2003 thru 2005.
Vic Surma, Jr left the team in 2006, with some “personal problems.” The Surma family put this problem on Joe and never forgave him.
Joe and the Surma family never talked again after Vic, Jr. left the team.
Did Vic Surma, Sr and his brother’s (John) anger over at Vic Surma Jr’s lifestyle choices, and their blaming Joe Paterno lead to the actions of John P Surma in November 2011? If the prejudice and anger shown by Vic Sr and John P coincide with something of this nature it is Joe Paterno and Penn State that are paying the price for a private family matter .
Vic Sr writes, “You know what kind of people we are dealing with. We’ve all played for him–the biggest fraud of the college football world. To expect Paterno and his gang to help is a dream…..try to get blood out of a stone. Good luck.” Obviously, he is angry that Vic Jr or the Surma family has not received some sort of assistance. After his glowing remarks of Paterno in a book in 2002?
No less than seven sources including arrest records indicate there were lifestyle and drug problems for Victor, Jr.
Conflict of interest abounds in the handling of the Sandusky Scandal at Penn State.
There was a failure to disclose the following:
Freeh report’s client was the Board of Trustees, not Penn State, and therefore had a duty to act in the best interests of the board of trustees.
In August 2012 FSS (Freeh) had been acquired by Pepper Hamilton.
Failure to report on written threat by the brother of Trustee Chair John P Surma to publicly disgrace Mr Paterno.
It is time to pull all the pieces together and put the blame firmly where it belongs–on Jerry Sandusky as a “nice guy” pedophile who is serving essentially a life sentence in prison, and to repair the broken board of trustee system that currently runs Penn State. There clearly were conflicts of interest here, including relationships between Louis Freeh, the Second Mile, and individual members of the Board of Trustees.
by Carolyn Todd
Why did Louis Freeh determine that Penn State had a so-called “football culture”?
In his report, Freeh states the following key finding:
“In the Fall of 2000, a University janitor observed Sandusky sexually assault a young boy in the East Area Locker Building and advised co-workers of what he saw. Also that evening, another janitor saw two pairs of feet in the same shower, and then saw Sandusky and a young boy leaving the locker room holding hands. Fearing that they would be fired for what they saw, neither janitor reported the incidents to university officials, law enforcement, or child protective agencies.”
Later in his report, Freeh describes an interview with one of the janitors involved: “Janitor B explained to the Special Investigative Counsel that reporting the incident ‘would have been like going against the President of the United States in my eyes.’ ‘I know Paterno has so much power, if he wanted to get rid of someone, I would have been gone.’ He explained, ‘football runs this University,’ and said the University would have closed ranks to protect the football program at all costs.”
And so according to Freeh, even though a more senior janitor discussed with these two janitors how to report what they saw, the two janitors involved decided that because they were fearful of losing their jobs, they would not report a tremendously awful crime. Or at least that’s what they told Freeh twelve years after it happened.
They blamed Paterno’s power for their failure to do what was the right thing to do at the time – to call the police.
I don’t necessarily want to judge them. I can understand the fear of losing a job, whether that fear is founded or not. But it’s a true shame that they did not report the crime when it occurred in 2000.
Sandusky might have been behind bars a lot sooner given what appears to be the clearest eye witness account of Sandusky performing a sexual act on a victim. A lot of victims might have been spared over the past decade.
And as the Paterno family report published last week has pointed out, just because a janitor assumed that Joe Paterno MIGHT fire him for reporting a crime doesn’t make it true that he WOULD have or even COULD have.
There is no evidence that Paterno would have dismissed these janitors and not taken them seriously. There is also no evidence that Paterno would have fired these janitors.
AND significantly enough there is no evidence that Paterno had the authority to fire these janitors even if he desired to, which in my opinion is not something he would have done.
Remember, in the year 2000 Sandusky didn’t report to Paterno or have anything to do with his program. And it has been well documented that Paterno wasn’t close to Sandusky or consider him a friend.
In addition there is ample evidence that when Mike McQueary reported something in 2001 that was far more ambiguous than what one of the janitors reportedly saw – he told his dad and a medical doctor that night and the jury during the Sandusky trial that he did NOT see a rape – Mike was neither fired or told by Paterno to keep it quiet.
Paterno made sure that Mike met with Tim Curley and Gary Schultz to report to them what he saw. Mike was kept on as graduate assistant coach and then later on he was promoted to assistant coach.
So why was Freeh so sympathetic to these janitors for not calling the police and so willing to blame the “football culture” for their inaction?
I probably never will understand that part of the history of the Sandusky scandal. It’s hard for me to fathom how anyone can be blamed for somehow ignoring a crime that was never reported. But that is in essence what the Freeh report does. It blames Paterno and the football culture.
Joe Paterno had a lot of influence, for sure, at Penn State. But was he powerful enough to decide EVERYTHING at the university? No, he wasn’t. That is a myth perpetrated by people who have a limited view or don’t understand how academia works.
Dr. Vicki Triponey, the former VP of Student Affairs, was another one of Freeh’s interviewees and it appears that her assertions also had influence on Freeh’s conclusions about a football culture. She is well-known for her complaints that she couldn’t wrest control away from Joe Paterno on whether or not his players could continue to play while facing disciplinary proceedings. Her complaints have been well-publicized in the media. She felt that it should be up to Judicial Affairs, not coaches, to determine player involvement in practice or games. Joe Paterno objected to that.
But what was NOT so well publicized in most media, although reported in a Centre Daily Times article written by Anne Danahy, is that an independent Faculty-Senate committee at the university interviewed 40 people about Triponey’s concerns and about her proposal for Judicial Affairs to determine whether or not an athlete should continue to play on a team if faced with disciplinary proceedings. This Faculty-Senate committee, NOT Joe Paterno, made the final recommendation to the university president as to how student discipline of both athletes and non-athletes should be handled.
Essentially this academic committee confirmed the notion that coaches should be allowed to determine whether or not a player should continue to play, not Judicial Affairs. They determined that for non-athlete extra-curricular activities it was left to the leader of those activities (e.g. advisor) to determine whether or not a non-athlete facing discipline should continue to participate. The committee felt that athletes should not be treated any differently than non-athletes.
The Freeh report’s opinion that there is some sort of a ”football culture” that needs to be rectified at Penn State seems to be one of the reasons that the NCAA has come down especially hard on Penn State in assessing the harsh sanctions that it has.
Never mind that what happened at Penn State was criminal activity by a former coach, that none of the current players ever worked with. Never mind that it had nothing to do with creating competitive advantage on the playing field, which is supposedly what the NCAA is supposed to be investigating.
Mark Emmert, mimicking Freeh, publicly stated that Penn State’s “football culture” needs to change as a justification for his announcement of harsh NCAA sanctions. And what was even worse, he seemed to imply that academic integrity at Penn State had been compromised.
What was it about a 91% graduation rate of football student athletes at Penn State that Emmert didn’t like?
Perhaps the problem was that the people Freeh interviewed at Penn State ADMIRED the academic culture that was built within the football program?
And perhaps Freeh’s teams confused admiration for Joe’s commitment to academics and fundraising for an attitude of “Joe can do no wrong” or “Joe has too much power”?
Let us not forget, Emmert chose to accept the Freeh report and announce the worse NCAA sanctions ever against a university rather than launch his own investigation.
So Emmert doesn’t even know who Freeh interviewed in his investigation.
Trust me when I say, Penn State faculty and staff are smarter than to think Joe Paterno could have done no wrong. We respected Joe Paterno’s abilities as a head coach, his philanthropic efforts on behalf of Penn State, and his determination to make sure his players graduated.
But we also knew that he was quite human. He wasn’t perfect. We also knew that Joe had boundaries he respected. He had a lot of influence, but he didn’t always choose to use it.
Evidence of that fact is that neither Joe Paterno nor anyone else from the football office has ever interfered with a faculty decision related to the academics of a football player.
There has been no pressure to pass any athlete. None. Ever. By any coach of any athletic program at Penn State.
As an instructor at Penn State I’ve had my share of student athletes in the classroom – football and otherwise – and all I can say is that every scholarship athlete I have had in my classes is very closely monitored, three times per semester! To make sure they attend classes, to make sure they are participating, to make sure they are passing. It works, and Penn State has been admired over the decades for it working so well.
And speaking of football culture, what about the fact that football student athletes are involved in all sorts of other initiatives, such as “Lift for Life”, where this year alone they raised over $100,000 to combat kidney cancer?
And where this year Offensive Lineman Eric Shrive was named “Rare Disease Champion of the Year” by Uplifting Athletes and the Maxwell Club for his personal efforts in raising over $69,000 of that amount to fight this disease. Congratulations, Eric, on that honor!
No, Freeh and Emmert got it wrong. If you want to know what Penn State’s culture is truly about, consider this past weekend’s efforts in the dead cold of February.
710 student dancers on their feet for 46 hours. More than 15,000 students on their feet in the stands supporting those dancers. Countless Penn State student clubs and organizations spending weeks and months on end canning on street corners to raise money to combat pediatric cancer.
Countless folks – students, families, community members – standing in line for hours outside of the Bryce Jordan Center trying to get into the arena to lend their support to the dancers, and turned away because the largest inside venue on campus isn’t big enough to accommodate all who want to participate.
Numerous committees are organized throughout the year to support this event and make sure the dancers are well taken care for, and that the Thon children themselves – children who suffer tremendously from treatments related to their cancers – are having a great time.
That’s right. The children themselves who benefit from Thon interact directly with the students at Penn State, through the Four Diamonds Fund, which is the major beneficiary of the Thon fundraising effort.
Just about every student club participating in Thon has one or two of these children assigned to them. That makes the fundraising to cure cancer personal. Very personal. And given that these children sometimes don’t survive, it is agonizingly emotional in the final hours when during the Thon family hour the triumphs over cancer are celebrated, but then also the names and photos of the Thon children who passed away are flashed on the screen.
I teach at Penn State. I’m a huge football fan, as you know. But, when I think of culture at Penn State, I don’t think of football first.
I think of Thon. Thon is what pervades the atmosphere among students at Penn State, and it is what differentiates Penn State from any other major university in the world. Thon pervades all year round.
Football at Penn State is exciting, fun, a major passion each fall for seven home weekends each year. But isn’t that true at every FBS school? Isn’t it true at Alabama? Wisconsin? Michigan? Ohio State? You name it. Football is big in the fall at all of my top five favorite college football venues. I beg you to contend that Penn State football is more important than football at any other of these schools.
But while football is primarily a fall activity, the Penn State Dance Marathon drives Penn State students 52 weeks per year. The student clubs, fraternities, and sororities all organize into teams to can on weekends on street corners in communities throughout the northeast and even across the country.
Thon itself has what seem to be a zillion different committees, whether they be rules and regulations, morale, security, entertainment, communications, and of course there is a huge competitive thrust among the numerous student clubs to raise enough money to be eligible to sponsor one or more dancers to represent them, and to be recognized as a top 5 contributing student club among various designated categories of clubs when the grand amount is announced.
And so on a weekend in February, a miraculous event occurs, the culmination of a year’s worth of effort. A bunch of students hold a 46 hour dance party at the Bryce Jordan Center. No alcohol, by the way, is allowed within the BJC, and anyone who is visibly drunk is turned away.
The Thon kids have a ball. The dancers learn what it is like to suffer…and to survive.
Football culture? Football players are involved as well in supporting Thon. In fact, all the athletes at Penn State put on a show for the dancers on Saturday night. The athletic teams spend hours developing, practicing, and then competing for the best dance routine, and it’s a highlight of the weekend…you can view it here. It’s a great laugh, especially the men’s hockey team and this year’s winner, the men’s swim team.
In the end, in my opinion, the Penn State student culture is defined by Penn State students striving to make an impact on the world. The students contribute tremendously to the families whose kids are suffering from cancer, and to researching a cure for pediatric cancer. This year, they raised over $12 million. Since the beginning, over $101 million. For the kids.
And you know what? On Monday morning, the Thon mission will start all over again. New leadership for Thon will be named, a transition plan to impart all the lessons from this year’s successes and failures will occur, and committees will be formed to start the effort all over again for next year.
The janitors were wrong. Louis Freeh was wrong. So was Mark Emmert. Football doesn’t run everything at Penn State.
If you want to know what the culture at Penn State is about, especially in terms of student life, look no further than Thon.
Congratulations, Penn State students! For The Kids!!! $12.3 million plus. Every year I look at what Penn State students accomplish, and I’m absolutely amazed. As we all should be.
The world’s largest student-run philanthropy. That’s what defines Penn State culture, much more than football does. And I suspect it always will.
But it’s also what’s incredibly disturbing about the Sandusky crimes. Penn State’s culture is defined by the acronymn ”FTK”. For The Kids.
Sandusky violated first of all his victims, but also the entire Penn State University, through his heinous criminal actions. He struck at the core of Penn State’s cultural beliefs which have always been about supporting children through Thon. He also struck at the core of the community’s support of The Second Mile, the charity he founded, which has also been all about supporting children.
That is what is so hard to accept. That this monster in our midst could go after the very kids that the culture of this school and this community could work so hard to support.
As for a football culture? For any Penn Stater, they know better.
“As we have not yet had an opportunity to review the lawsuit filed by Governor Corbett today, we cannot comment on the specifics of the litigation. What we do know, however, is that this matter is far from closed. The fact that Governor Corbett now realizes, as do many others, that there was an inexcusable rush to judgment is encouraging.
“Joe Paterno’s only guidance to us was to seek the truth. Consequently, last July when the Freeh report was released and the subsequent unprecedented and unjustified actions were taken by the Penn State University Board and the NCAA, we stated that we would engage a team of experts to conduct a careful and thoughtful review of the Freeh inquiry and the actions of the Board and the Administration. That process is nearing completion. We expect to release the analysis of the experts in the near future. At that time we will address all of the issues of the past year in a comprehensive manner.”
I decided to step in and just throw a question at Bilas.
Surprisingly, he responded to me with this, “Overall, I’d say no. But, he failed to report McQueary info beyond Curley, etc. He should have done more. Others more culpable.”
With a follow up, I tweeted, “Jay, how do you think the media coverage has been unfair towards Paterno?”
Bilas answered with this, “Not all of it, but some was excessive and over the top. Understandable given nature of the story. Tragic in so many ways.”
I’m sure there are many Penn State fans out there that agree with Bilas about Paterno being treated unfairly by the media since the Sandusky story broke. However, to hear it from an employee of a company that led the charge against Paterno since last November was quite surprising.